UNC Asheville catcher Ian Graham hit a pair of solo home runs and Bulldogs pitching held Charlotte to four hits in a 6-3 result to even the non-conference weekend series at Robert and Mariam Hayes Stadium. Asheville improves to 10-22 for the season, as the 49ers slip to 18-12.
Graham hit the third pitch of the game down the left field line and 15 feet inside the fair pole for a leadoff homer and a 1-0 Bulldogs lead. Asheville got the bases loaded and scored a second run in the first on a sacrifice fly for a 2-0 start.
Charlotte cut the lead to one with a run in the third inning. Junior first baseman Grant Dunnegan (Clearwater, Kan. / Hutchinson CC) singled through the middle, stole second and got to third on a groundout before scoring on a safety squeeze bunt from senior center fielder Michael Green (Richmond, Va. / Thomas Dale HS).
Graham hit his second solo homer to lead off the fifth, also down the left field line to push the lead back out to two for the Bulldogs.
Asheville got three more runs on two hits and three Niners errors in the seventh to open up a 6-1 lead.
The 49ers got two runs back in the bottom of the seventh after the loading the bases with no one out. Dunnegan drew a walk to drive in a run and a double play scored a second run in the frame for a 6-3 ballgame.
The win went to Asheville starter Dean Roland (1-6), who allowed just three hits and three walks in six innings. He struck out a pair of batters. Reliever Billy Creighton got his first save of the season by tossing the final three innings, allowing one hit in his outing.
The loss went to senior John Hamilton (Strongsville, Ohio), who was charged with three earned runs in 4.2 innings. He allowed five hits and three walks, logging three strikeouts.
Asheville third baseman Robert McIntosh led all players with three hits. Four different hitters had one hit each for Charlotte, and three different 49ers scored a run each.
The rubber game of the series will be Sunday at 1 p.m.
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