CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Freshman T.J. Nichting compiled a 4-for-5 night at the plate as Charlotte picked up a 6-2 victory over USC Upstate in baseball action on Tuesday night. Nichting’s had four of the team’s 14 hits as the Niners have now won four of their last six including four-straight in non-conference play.
“We were really good under bad conditions on Sunday and had a bunch of guys come out on the off day Monday to get some work done,” remarked Head Coach Loren Hibbs referring to the offensive outburst postgame. “That’s good. It’s a positive that led to our pretty good approach at the plate tonight.”
The Niners (7-18-1) brought across the initial run of the night in the bottom of the first as leadoff singles from Mikal Hill and Nichting began the frame. Hill advanced to third on Nichting’s single to right and later scored on a Derek Gallello groundout to second.
A pair of leadoff singles again paid off in the Niner fourth as Charlotte tacked on three more to slide the lead out to four. Brett Lang and Jordan Hudson dropped in singles to left. After Brad Elwood sacrificed both up 90 feet with a perfect bunt, Mikal Hill drove both in crushing a double off the top of the wall in right for a 3-0 advantage. Hill just missed a three-run homer by less than a foot. Nichting would soon bring in Hill with his double to left on a 3-2 payoff pitch.
USC Upstate (10-20) would get on the board in the fifth scoring a pair of runs to slice the Niner lead down to 4-2. A.J. Mackey started with a line drive double down the left field line followed by a Daniel Fickas single and Jordan Miller walk that loaded the bases with nobody out. Tyler Lesch would get the Spartans on the board with a bloop single to left scoring Mackey with the Spartans first tally.
Lesch would be the final hitter Charlotte starter Corbin Shive would face in his four-plus innings of work. Reliever Micah Wells would hit Erik Samples with his first pitch to score Fickas before getting out of the jam. Elwood would make a nice running catch in left for the first out before Hill made a diving snag at short for the second out. Wells would get Stephen Dowling looking on a 3-2 pitch to record the strikeout and end the inning. Shive final line would read four innings allowing two runs on four hits with a pair of walks and strikeouts.
Gallello would help the Niners get one of those runs back in their half of the fifth starting with a triple smoked down the right-field line. After an USC Upstate pitching change, Des Roberts would plate Gallello with his sacrifice fly to center for a 5-2 Charlotte advantage.
Charlotte would add their final run in the seventh as a USC Upstate error kept the inning alive for Jordan Hudson to drive in Roberts with his base knock to left.
Five players put together multi-hit games along with Nichting as Charlotte has now recorded 29 hits in their past two outings. Hill, Lang, Hudson and Elwood would each collect a pair of hits among the 14.
Micah Wells (1-0) registered the win in relief by tossing two innings allowing one hit with three strikeouts. In 6.1 innings of work to start his collegiate career, Wells has kept opponents scoreless scattering three hits with four strikeouts over five appearances.
The bullpen was once again strong on Tuesday night as Nate Traugh and Hunter May combined with Wells to keep the Spartans quiet over the final five frames. Traugh tossed the seventh allowing one hit while May surrendered two with a strikeout in his eighth and ninth.
“We think we’re making progress but we’ve still got a ways to go,” continued Hibbs. “We’re seeing great competition on the weekends. We see a really high level of play on the weekends. We just need to keep practicing the right way and keep doing our best to win as many of these midweek games as we can.”
Charlotte will now enter its off weekend from Conference USA play and will host Evansville for a four-game series in three days starting with a doubleheader on Friday afternoon. Game one will see RHP Corey Roberts (0-3, 4.71) throw the first pitch at 2:00 p.m. while RHP Brandon Vogler (1-0, 0.69) starts game two at 6:00 p.m. The second contest will start no earlier than 6:00 p.m. due to postgame fireworks following the nightcap.
Tickets for the doubleheader are available by calling the Charlotte 49ers ticket office at 704-687-4949. Tickets are also available online at http://www.charlotte49ers.com along with live stats and video links for the twinbill. Live, in-game updates will also be provided via Twitter by following @49erGameDay and @Charlotte49ers.com
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