After a brutal 14 run shutout defeat at the hands of Wake Forest on March 30, the Charlotte 49ers exercised some demons Tuesday night with a 6-4 win over the Demon Deacons. The Niners used two huge eighth inning hits to overcome a late one-run deficit and move to 26-8 on the year.
"We just keep playing, we never give up," Niner Head coach Loren HIbbs said following the win. "I just told them to keep playing in the seventh and something good would eventually happen."
Corey Shaylor continued his hot streak in the first when he ripped an 0-2 pitch through the left side to score Cory Tilton and make the score 1-0 Niners. The junior second baseman hit .667 last week and accumulated 11 RBI on his way to A-10 Player of the Week.
The Niners added another run in the third when Mike Perkins poked one through the right side, scoring Justin Wilson from second to put the Niners up by two. Charlotte added another run in the fourth when Tilton flied out to left field to score Shane Brown. The RBI was the 35th of the season for Tilton and made the Niner lead 3-0.
The Demon Deacons countered in the top of the fifth with two runs on two hits to bring the score to 3-2. With runners standing on second and third, Wake's Ryan Lloyd grounded out to second to score Mac Williamson and advance Matt Conway to third. Shane Kroker then stepped to the plate and singled through the left side to bring in Conway and bring the Deacons to within one run at 3-2.
The Demon Deacons continued their mini scoring barrage in the sixth, scoring two runs on three hits to take their first lead of the ballgame, 4-3. Niner reliever Bryan Hamilton got in some early trouble, allowing lead-off singles by Ryan Semeniuk and centerfielder Steven Brooks. With Semeniuk and Brooks standing on second and third respectively, Mike Murray hit a sacrifice fly to left field to score Semeniuk and tie the game at three. Williamson then grounded out to second to plate Brooks and give the Deacons their first lead of the game at 4-3.
After being in recession for three innings, the Niner bats came alive in the eighth. The Niners tied the game at four on another clutch late-game hit by first baseman Ryan Rivers. After Kevin Gillespie walked to lead off the inning, Rivers stepped to the plate and laced a 1-0 pitch down the left field line. The pitch to home was on time, but Demon Deacon catcher Mike Murray bobbled the ball and Gillespie was called safe. Rivers advanced to third on the throw to home.
After Perkins struck out, Niner catcher Zane Williams came to the plate and blasted a 1-0 pitch over the left-centerfield wall for his eighth home run of the season, giving the Niners a 6-4 lead.
"I thought Rivers' at-bat was huge, Gillespie's at-bat to start the inning was also huge, getting a walk," Hibbs said. "Rivers had been struggling a little bit but had a great at-bat. Then I think they threw a slider down to Zane, and he's always going to hit that out."
Freshman right-hander Wes Hatley got the start on the hill for the Niners and had a successful outing in the process. Hatley threw a career-high five innings, struck out a career-high seven Wake Forest batters, allowed just two runs on three hits and retired nine of the first 10 batters he faced.
"I thought Hatley was really good," Hibbs said. "When you play as many games as we do, it stretches your pitching a little bit. But I thought Hatley was really good and Lawson was also really good."
Pat Lawson (2-0) got the win in relief for the Niners, pitching 1.2 innings and allowing just one hit. On the other side of the equation, Michael Dimock (1-7) took the loss for the Demon Deacons. Dimock pitched seven innings, allowing five runs on nine hits and struck out five.
The win stretched Charlotte's home winning streak to 16 games, which leaves the Niners just one win shy of tying the all-time record. The Niners look to tie the record tomorrow against North Carolina Central at Hayes Stadium at 6 p.m.