Charlotte senior infielder Austin Knight (14) at-bat during a baseball game against the University of Alabama at Birmingham on Saturday, April 22, 2023.

The Charlotte baseball team traveled to Bowling Green, Ky., and suffered a sweep in a three-game series against the Western Kentucky University (WKU) Hilltoppers on April 28-30. 


With the sweep, the 49ers fall to 22-21 overall, and 12-8 in Conference USA (C-USA) play. 


Game one


In the second inning of the game, WKU scored its first runs with a double, back-to-back walks, a sacrifice fly and a single to right field. 


In the fourth inning, trouble arose as Charlotte's left fielder, Dante DeFranco, got injured while chasing down a ball slicing into foul territory and sliding into the brick wall in left field at full speed. Will Butcher replaced him in the left and homered in the fifth inning, followed by another home run from Jack Dragum, cutting WKU's lead to one run.


However, WKU responded with two runs in the bottom of the fifth and three in the sixth, extending their lead over the 49ers. 


In the eighth inning, Austin Knight hit another home run for Charlotte, accompanied by a small rally in the ninth with a Josh Patrick double. Charlotte's comeback bid ended with a pair of strikeouts and a groundout to second, concluding the game 8-4 with WKU on top. 


Game two


In the second game of the series, WKU scored first again in the third inning with three consecutive singles and a double steal that allowed a runner to score. 


Charlotte tied the game in the fourth inning with Butcher reaching second on a throwing error and Cam Fisher hitting a home run over the center field wall. The 49ers took the lead in the next inning, with Spencer Nolan taking a walk, stealing second and Dragum singling and bringing Nolan home. 


However, WKU answered immediately with three runs in the bottom of the fifth inning, with a series of bunts, a double and a triple regaining a 5-3 lead. 


Charlotte's offense was limited to a two-out walk in the seventh, and they went down in order for the next seven batters, giving WKU the series with a 5-3 win. 


Game three


WKU started the final day with an early lead by scoring two runs in the opening frame, despite having one runner thrown out at home on a squeeze attempt. 


Charlotte answered back in the second inning with a solo home run by Brandon Stahlman to make it a one-run game. WKU then extended their lead to two runs, 3-1, in the third inning with an RBI double down the left-field line.


Charlotte cut the deficit to one run again in the fifth inning when Dragum hit an RBI single through the right line of the infield to bring home Blake Jackson, who had reached base on a fielder's choice and stolen second. The 49ers took the lead in the sixth inning with two home runs — a two-run shot by Stahlman and a solo shot by Kaden Hopson.


However, WKU responded with a huge seven-run seventh inning, highlighted by a bases-loaded hit that cleared the bases, a two-run home run and a two-run single, making it 10-5. The Hilltoppers would score four more runs in the eighth inning to extend their lead to nine. 


Charlotte scored three runs in the ninth inning with home runs by Dragum and Fisher and an RBI single by Stahlman, but it wasn't enough to mount a comeback, with the game ending at 14-10 and WKU on top after winning the weekend series. 


Next up


On Tuesday, May 2, Charlotte will conclude its five-game road trip with a game against No. 7 Coastal Carolina starting at 6 p.m. The game will be broadcast live on ESPN+, and a free radio option for Charlotte fans will also be available.