Takeaways UTSA

Charlotte’s Jack Dragum, Todd Elwood, Craig Keuchel and Dominic Pilolli celebrate winning game one of the doubleheader on April 17.

The #19 Charlotte 49er baseball team won their series against UTSA over the weekend.

Charlotte won the first three games 6-2, 10-6 and 11-10. The Roadrunners came back and won the final game on Sunday in the 10th inning with a score of 11-5. 

“We learned that we belong, we learned that we’re capable of doing some great things when we all work together and play like we are capable of,” said Coach Woodard.

Charlotte’s record moves to 25-10 and 14-2 in the conference after winning all four conference series so far on the season. UTSA’s record moves to 15-15 on the year and 7-8 in the conference. 

Here are the takeaways from the series for Charlotte. 

A healthy Niners lineup is dangerous 

Niners stars Dominic Pilolli and David McCabe have been battling injuries this year, but this weekend, both of them returned to the lineup for the entire series, and they didn’t disappoint.

McCabe played in all four games this weekend and showed signs of the great player he was before the injury, which is very promising. But McCabe wasn’t at 100%, which led him to be the DH and being pinch ran for in the first three games.

McCabe hit .333 on the weekend with two RBIs, one run, three walks, one double, and one home run.

Piloll, coming off a Conference-USA Freshman of the Year campaign, last year was leading the Niners all weekend long. 

But as good as Pilolli was his freshman year, he has shown improvement this year and proved it this weekend. He batted .600 with 9 RBIs, four runs, two walks, three doubles, one triple, and three home runs. 

Two of Pilolli’s home runs were gaming tying bombs, showing how much of a clutch ballplayer he can be.

Charlotte shows why they are nationally ranked with a gritty series win

Last week it was announced that the Niners were ranked #21 by D1Baseball, following the Niners’ tear through Conference-USA. 

Before this series, the Niners hadn’t been behind in a game since April 4th against FAU. In all four games of this series against UTSA, the Niners were trailing at some point. 

This series was the first test for the team in conference play as they fought hard to win this series. This didn’t go unnoticed as the Niners have moved up to #19 in D1Baseball’s rankings. 

“I learned that this group of players belong at the top, they’ve worked extremely hard to be at the top of this conference and to enter the national rankings … we proved this weekend we belong,” said Woodard. 

The Niners battled back in every game, many times answering back big innings from the Roadrunners with their own the next half-inning. The team fought back from the deficits to keep themselves in the ball game no matter how demoralizing of a situation they were in. 

The Niners won game one battling back from being down 1-0 by striking for five runs the next half-inning. In game two, they were down 3-0 and went off for seven runs in the bottom of the 6th inning to gain the lead. 

Game three was a gritty back and forth game with the lead switching hands four times. Ultimately going into the bottom of the 5th inning, the Niners trailed 10-6. But they battled through, tying it with a two-run homer from Pilolli. The Niners won that game from a solo home run from LuJames Groover III in the 6th inning. 

The Niners fought back from being down 4-0 in game four but ultimately lost in extra innings. This series shows that you can’t count Charlotte out of any game no matter the situation and proves they deserve to be nationally ranked.

Bullpen proves resilient

Charlotte’s bullpen had to put in many innings this weekend following some shaky starts on Saturday and Sunday. Through that time, the bullpen pitched exceptionally well besides the 10th inning of the final game.

Following a solid start from Bryce McGowan on Friday, the 49ers bullpen closed out the final four innings, only allowing one hit. With Christian Lothes pitching the 9th inning, walking one batter, then striking out the next three in a row. 

The bullpen held the fort down in game two, only allowing one run off of a solo home run. In game three on Saturday, the second game of the doubleheader, the Niners bullpen started a little rough with the first two relievers giving up four runs, but only one earned run. The next three bullpen arms gave up zero hits and only walked two on the way to a victory. 

On Sunday, the game started in disaster for Charlotte with their starter not able to record an out, the Niners started the game down 4-0. Andrew Lindsey came in relief in the 2nd inning and shut down UTSA’s offense for the next seven innings, keeping the Niners in it.

The only bad outing for the Niners bullpen was in the 10th inning when Jackson Boss made his third appearance. The wear of his other appearances had gotten to him as the bullpen in the 10th allowed seven runs due to overuse.

Charlotte will now make a quick stop in Boone on Tuesday to take on Appalachian State ahead of a game with North Carolina and two weekend series against #20 Ranked Old Dominion.

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