Charlotte’s longest running baseball series is renewed in its third different conference this weekend as Virginia Commonwealth (VCU) makes its first visit to Robert and Mariam Hayes Stadium this weekend for an Atlantic 10 Conference baseball series. This is the home-opening conference series for Charlotte in 2013 and the only time the two teams will meet in the A-10. Charlotte enters with the league’s best winning percentage and a 16-8 overall mark, with a 2-1 league record. VCU has lost five in a row, enters at 12-10, 0-3 in the A-10. The Rams started the season 9-0, but is just 3-10 in their last 13 contests.

Charlotte and VCU were together in the Sun Belt and Metro Conferences and played every year from 1980 to 1996, with the last game in the series playing in Wilmington in 1999. Charlotte is 51-31-1 in the all-time series against VCU, the most games played against any opponent in the 35-year history of the program.

The series starts a home stand where the 49ers will play 11 of their next 12 contests at home, including the next three weekend series.

Friday’s contest starts at 6 p.m., with sunglasses being given away to fans at the game, while supplies last.  Junior righty Tyler Barnette (Hickory, N.C.) will start for Charlotte. Barnette is 2-0 this season, with a 4.58 earned run average. He has a team-high 28 strikeouts and 11 walks on the season. Kids who have completed the third quarter of the Reading with Norm program and selected this game will receive two tickets to this game. VCU senior Heath Dwyer will start for the Rams. He is 303 this season, with a 3.48 ERA. He is tied for the team lead with 32 strikeouts this season, against just nine walks.

Saturday, the contest will be started by Charlotte senior left hander John Hamilton (Strongsville, Ohio) with a 2 p.m. start. Hamilton leads the starting rotation with a 1.82 ERA, but has not received much run support to a 1-2 record. Hamilton has collected 23 strikeouts versus just six walks. Senior left hander Ryan Farrar is also 3-3 for VCU, with a 3.43 ERA. He is tied with Dwyer with the 32 punchouts and he has walked 11 batters. Saturday’s promotion is Free Youth Day for all youth 17 and under, with a postgame Catch with the Niners scheduled.

The 1 p.m. Easter Sunday contest will be started by junior right hander Brock Hudgens (Jamestown, N.C. / Southwest Guilford HS) and his 2-0 record and 3.68 ERA. Hudgens has racked up 25 strikeouts, with 15 walks. Redshirt junior Seth Greene gets the nod for VCU. He is 1-1, with a 3.13 ERA, with 13 strikeouts and four walks.

Charlotte has scored seven runs in the ninth innings of its last four games, winning in its last at bat last Friday at Richmond to take the opening game of the A-10 series. Tuesday, Charlotte scored two in the ninth in a 6-5 loss at Presbyterian. In that game, Charlotte junior Justin Seager (Kannapolis, N.C. / Northwest Cabarrus HS) deposited his league-leading 13th double of the season in the ninth to lead to the second run scored of that frame. Seager leads the league with a .440 batting average. The first run scoring in the ninth was the fifth career home run from senior third baseman Shane Basen (Waxhaw, N.C. / Marvin Ridge HS), who has hit all of his home runs on the road, including three at Xavier.

While the starters and bullpen have evenly split the eight losses this season, relief pitching has grabbed 10 of the team’s 16 wins in the late going in 2013. The Charlotte bullpen has posted a 2.25 ERA, while the 49ers have throttled opposing bullpens to a 6.00 ERA and a 3-8 mark. Charlotte junior Hunter May (Cornelius, N.C. / Pitt CC) was tied for the national lead with six wins (6-0) as of Monday’s NCAA statistics release. His 27.1 innings is nearly a third of the team’s relief innings this season to go with his 1.65 ERA. Three Charlotte relievers have combined for no ERA over 16 appearances and 13.2 innings, with two more relievers adding 13 more appearances, 19 innings pitched, each with sub-1.00 ERAs. Relievers have six saves to opposing teams recording three.

Charlotte starting pitching has posted a 3.49 ERA, still slightly better than opposing starters’ 3.65 ERA. Charlotte starters are 6-4, while opponents are 5-8.

Advance tickets are available by contacting the 49ers Ticket Office at (704) 687-4949 or can be purchased at the Hayes Stadium Box Office by a member of our friendly ticket staff.