CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Brad Elwood’s single down the left field line in the bottom of the 12th scored Des Roberts with the game-winner as Charlotte (2-1) slid past Canisius 4-3 at Robert and Mariam Hayes Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Roberts started the 12th inning rally with a one-out single to center on the first pitch. Zach Jarrett followed with a bunt single to third which moved Roberts into scoring position for Elwood. Elwood’s hit was nearly snagged by Canisius (2-3) third baseman Anthony Massicci deflecting off the top of his mitt and into left for the walk-off win.
“I told our guys joking that I was tired and can only do nine innings a day,” quipped Head Coach Loren Hibbs after the game. “We’re still a work in progress. We’re three games in and had two extra-inning games already so I guess its good were getting our extra work in.”
As they have now in all three games this season, Charlotte put the first run on the board grabbing a 1-0 lead on a rare balk call in the third. Des Roberts pushed a bunt single down the first base line hurdling Griffs first baseman Jimmy Luppens to reach with one out. After Zach Jarrett followed by reaching on a fielding error at short that pushed Roberts to second, Brad Elwood’s fly ball to right would advance Roberts to third setting up the run. Two pitches into Logan Sherer’s at-bat, a balk was called on Canisius starter Rohn Pierce that brought home Roberts with the unearned run.
The pitcher’s duel continued into the sixth until three-straight hits by the Niners extended the lead out to 3-0. Sherer and Mikal Hill began with back-to-back one out singles setting the table for Brett Lang. Lang then ripped a double to left scoring both Sherer and Hill for a 3-0 lead.
Canisius struggled in the first six innings to push across a run putting up seven hits, but had stranded eight on the base paths. That would change temporarily in the seventh as the Griffs took advantage of two Charlotte errors ending their 16-inning scoreless drought to knot the contest at 3-3.
One of those Niner errors allowed Ronnie Bernick to reach second to start the frame while a slow chopper up the middle by Ryan Coppinger put runners at the corners with no outs. As Coppinger took off to second on a wild pitch, the errant throw down to second allowed Bernick to score Canisius’ first run of the day. Three pitches later, Jesse Puscheck delivered the big blow the Griffs had been waiting for with a two-run blast to right, his first of the year, for a new 3-3 game.
Elwood, Lang, Hill and Roberts each wrapped up with two hits apiece as Charlotte knocked out 11 as a team. The Niners bullpen consisting of Jason Harris, Nate Traugh and Sherer combined for the final six innings, give up just one hit apiece to keep the Griffs silent. Traugh would fan four in his 3.1 innings of work. Starter Corey Roberts picked up a no-decision going the first six allowing just a pair of runs on eight hits also striking out four.
“I thought Roberts did a really good job. He was sinking his fastball and down in the strike zone,” remarked Hibbs. “Traugh really threw well out of the bullpen; he’s another young guy that we think has a chance to be pretty good as time goes on.”
Coppinger and Puscheck would have two-hit games for the Griffs as the visitors also recorded 11 on the afternoon. However, Canisius would strand six more runners late, in addition to the earlier eight, leaving 14 total on the base paths.
Charlotte and Canisius will play the third and final game of the weekend series on Sunday afternoon as the Niners go for a sweep at 1:00 p.m. The 49ers will turn to RHP Brock Hudgens (0-0, 0.00) while the Golden Griffins will look to RHP Devon Stewart (0-0, 0.00).
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