It was an afternoon of firsts as the Charlotte 49ers defeated the Arkansas Razorbacks to open the Tempe, Ariz. Regional, 3-2 at Packard Stadium in the desert. The win was the third in the postseason for the 49ers, sending No. 28 Charlotte (43-14) to the winner's bracket final tomorrow night at 10 p.m. Eastern against host Arizona State, which scored three in the ninth on a walkoff homer to win 4-2 over New Mexico.
Sophomore Corbin Shive (Salisbury, N.C. / East Rowan HS) picked a great spot to hit his first career home run, giving Charlotte a 2-0 lead on a 2-2 pitch out to left in the second inning. Corey Shaylor (Charlotte, N.C. / Independence HS) scored later in the inning after a base hit, a two-base error and an RBI groundout from shortstop Justin Roland (Salisbury, N.C. / East Rowan HS) for the 3-0 margin.
Those three runs held up for Charlotte starter Andrew Smith (Matthews, N.C. / Butler HS), who gave up his only run of the day in the third after a double, a stolen base and a sacrifice fly to make it 3-1 Niners. In 7.1 innings, Smith kept the Razorbacks off balance, giving up just five hits and a walk, hitting two batters, with four strikeouts. The Atlantic 10 Pitcher of the Year and Third-Team All-American became the ninth pitcher in program history to reach the 10-win mark (10-4). He lowered the A-10 Conference's lowest earned run average to just 1.81 through 109.1 innings. He has a team-leading 92 strikeouts.
The Razorbacks (38-21) closed the gap in the ninth, with a solo home run from left fielder Kyle Robinson, his tenth of the season, coming with two outs in the ninth against pitcher Corey Roberts (Charlotte, N.C. / Olympic HS). Roberts made his first appearance out of the bullpen this season, and the fourth of his career, striking out three of the six batters he faced to get his first career save.
Charlotte improves to 29-1 when holding the opponent to two or fewer runs, and 41-5 when scoring three or more runs this season. Charlotte also moved to 11-1 in one-run games this season and stayed perfect (35-0) when taking a lead into the ninth inning.
Arkansas starter Randall Fant took the loss (3-5), allowing all three runs in two innings of work on four hits and a walk.
Shive and outfielder Justin Wilson (Canton, N.C. / Pisgah HS) had two of Charlotte's seven hits in the game. Arkansas outfielder Jarrod McKinney had two of the Razorbacks' six hits.
Arkansas faces New Mexico in the first elimination game at 5 p.m. Eastern Saturday.
The 49ers allowed just one walk in the game and kept their ERA to 2.43, which was third-best in the nation entering postseason play.
Three seeds are 11-5 in day one of the tournament and this is the fourth-straight season at the Tempe Regional in which the three seed defeated the two seed on day one.
Freshman Tyler Barnette (Hickory, N.C. / Hickory HS) will start that contest (9-1, 1.96 ERA, 56 K, 22 BB), which starts at 10 p.m. Eastern on Saturday night against ASU junior righty Kramer Champlin (8-3, 3.13 ERA, 82 K, 27 BB).
Notes: The 49ers won their opening game as the three seed over North Carolina State in the 2007 Columbia, S.C. Regional. The 49ers won a pair of games in that regional, falling to host South Carolina in the regional final. Smith joins Adam Mills as the only starting pitchers in team history to win an NCAA postseason game.
No. 28 Charlotte 3, No. 19 Arkansas 2 (6/3/11 at Tempe, Ariz.)
Charlotte........... 030 000 000 - 3 7 0 (43-14)
Arkansas............ 001 000 001 - 2 6 2 (38-21)
Pitchers: Charlotte - Andrew Smith; Corey Roberts(8) and Ross Steedley. Arkansas -
Randall Fant; Brandon Moore(3); Barrett Astin(8) and James McCann.
Win-Andrew Smith(10-4) Save-Corey Roberts(1) Loss-Randall Fant(3-5) T-2:36 A-0
HR CHA - Corbin Shive (1).
HR AR - Kyle Robinson (10).
Weather: Sunny, 93*, Winds: SSW-6 mph
Fant, R. faced 1 batter in the 3rd.
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