A seven-run explosion in the second inning was enough for Charlotte take a lead and hold on for an opening-day home win over Delaware State 13-7 at Robert and Mariam Hayes Stadium Friday in non-conference baseball action. The 49ers win their sixth-straight home season-opening game, dropping the Hornets, a team that won 40 games last season, to an 0-1 start.
Three different 49ers had two or more RBI in their first hit of the season in aid of the win.
The Hornets scored five in the second inning and looked to run away with the contest early. They pushed across a pair of runs on two Niners errors and a passed ball in the frame before pitcher Ryan Haas dropped a bases-loaded double down the left field line for three more runs and a 5-0 lead. Haas led the Hornets with a .360 batting average and 60 RBI in 2012.
Charlotte batted around and took the lead with seven runs in the bottom of the second. A pair of walks and a single from catcher Pat Raley (Franklin, Tenn.) loaded the bases before a wild pitch scored the first run of the frame. After another walk loaded the bases, senior third baseman Shane Basen (Waxhaw, N.C. / Marvin Ridge HS) drove a ball to deep left center for a double them and extend his hit streak to a career-long 10 games. Junior Justin Seager (Kannapolis, N.C. / Northwest Cabarrus HS) then singled to right center to score Basen and tie the game. An error allowed another Niners baserunner and redshirt freshman Brett Lang (Charlotte, N.C. / Ardrey Kell HS) collected his first career hit and first two RBI with a double to left center, giving Charlotte the first lead of the game.
Delaware State got a run back in the third after a walk, a stolen base and a single, as left fielder Aaron Nardone scored his second run of the game for a 7-6 Charlotte margin.
The Niners were able to extend that lead in the fourth after loading the bases for the third time in the contest. Junior transfer Grant Dunnegan (Clearwater, Neb. / Hutchinson CC) collected his first Division I hit and pair of RBI in the same swing with two outs to push the lead to 9-6.
The Hornets pulled to within two again on a walk and an RBI groundout in the seventh.
Dunnegan struck again in the bottom half with a leadoff triple, scoring on a throwing error. Charlotte then loaded the bases again, before drawing a hit by pitch (to Seager), a walk to Brad Elwood (Indian Trail, N.C. / Piedmont HS) and a sacrifice fly by Lang to score three more runs and the final margin.
Transfer Hunter May (Cornelius, N.C. / Pitt CC) got the win in relief for Charlotte. He retired the first six batters he faced and allowed just one run and one hit in 3.1 innings. He struck out three on 49 pitches.
The loss went to starter Ryan Haas, who allowed the seven runs in the second in the decision.
All nine Charlotte starters recorded a hit or scored a run in the game. Dunnegan's three hits led all players. Charlotte's Basen and Lang and Delaware State Haas tied for the game-high total of three RBI.
Four Charlotte pitchers struck out a total of 10 batters, each with at least one, on the afternoon. The offense drew 10 walks in the game. Three relievers combined to allow just two hits and one run in the final 5.1 innings.
NOTES: Charlotte finished 2-for-3 officially with the bases loaded... The Niners had just 11 bases-loaded hits last season... Basen's three RBI got him off towards another big total... He finished second in the A-10 with 45 RBI last season... Charlotte is now 22-13 in season openers, 14-5 when opening the season at home, and 15-6 to open the season under head coach Loren Hibbs.
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