May 20, 2009
No. 6 Charlotte 13, No. 5 Fordham 10
Senior Aaron Bray collected four hits to become the program's all-time leader and first baseman Ryan Rivers knocked in four runs as sixth-seeded Charlotte overcame an early 5-1 deficit to down No. 5 Fordham, 13-10, in an elimination game for both teams on Wednesday evening at the 2009 Atlantic 10 Baseball Championship
Vying to become the league's first team to win three consecutive titles, the 49ers will play at 7:00pm on Thursday evening against an opponent to be determined. After winning its final six league contests to advance to the six-team Championship, Fordham ends its season with a mark of 22-32.
Bray went 4-for-5 with three RBI became Charlotte's all-time hits leader with 292. The previous record of 289 was held by Bo Robinson (1995-98).
"I told Aaron how proud of him I was. He's played hurt and may have to play shortstop tomorrow," said Charlotte head coach Loren Hibbs.
"We have so many guys who are hurt and it's kind of amazing we've won 33 games. I'm proud of our guys and we get to play tomorrow."
Holding a 7-6 advantage, Charlotte exploded for six runs in the eighth inning as it sent 11 men to the plate. The 49ers collected five hits in the frame, highlighted by junior Rob Lyerly's two-run double with the bases loaded and Rivers adding a two-run single. Named the Most Outstanding Player of the 2008 Championship, Lyerly finished 3-for-4 on the evening with three RBI, while Rivers drove in a game-high four runs.
Fordham plated four runs in the ninth, fuelled by a two-run single by rightfielder John Kahn, to pull within 13-10. Junior Kelly McLain was called upon with two outs and runners at the corners and retired freshman Brian Kownacki on a popup to shortstop to nail down his fifth save of the season.
Freshman Tyler Pilkington (5-1) earned the win for Charlotte as he allowed one run on three hits over 4.2 innings in relief of starter Patrick Lawson. The junior righthander was charged with five earned runs on seven hits in two innings.
Charlotte took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first on an RBI single by sophomore Ryan Rivers, which scored catcher Zane Williams, who reached base on a two-out walk. Fordham then erupted for five runs off Charlotte starter Patrick Lawson in the second inning, fueled by an RBI double from Kownacki and senior Bobby DiNardo's two-run single.
The 49ers countered with four runs in the top half of the fourth, however, to tie the game at 5-5. Junior Rob Lyerly opened the inning with his 11th home run of the season and designated hitter Aaron Bray added a two-run double for the lone Charlotte hits in the inning.
Fordham took a 6-5 lead in the bottom of the fourth as Kownacki scored on sophomore Chris Walker's run-scoring single. The 49ers tied the game in the top of the sixth as second baseman Mike Perkins tripled with one out and scored on a RBI single by Bray. Charlotte then went ahead for good in the top of the seventh as Williams opened the inning with a walk and came around to score on a sacrifice fly to right by Rivers.
Seeking its first A-10 crown since 1998, the Rams pounded out 15 hits, including two apiece by DiNardo and Kahn, who also added three RBI.
No. 3 Xavier 8, No. 6 Charlotte 4
Senior Neil Lindgren and first baseman Ben Thomas homered back-to-back in the third inning and junior Zac Richard delivered a strong performance on the mound as third-seeded Xavier downed No. 6 and two-time defending champion Charlotte on Wednesday afternoon, 8-4, in the opening round of the 2009 Atlantic 10 Baseball Championship at Fifth Third Field.
Vying for its first-ever A-10 crown, Xavier (34-18) will face No. 2 Rhode Island on Thursday at 3:30pm. The two teams split their four previous meetings this season. Charlotte will square off against fifth-seeded Fordham in an elimination game for both teams at 7:15 pm on Wednesday evening.
Richard improved to 3-0 on the year after allowing four runs on eight hits over 7.1 innings with a pair of strikeouts. It marked just his fourth start of the season after sustaining an injury at the start of the year.
"Zac did an unbelievable job for us. We missed him this year," said Xavier head coach Scott Googins, who led the Musketeers to their first win in the opening round of the Championship since a 6-3 win over Duquesne in 2003.
Xavier manufactured a run in the bottom of the second off Charlotte starter Joe Yermal (8-3) as Thomas singled to start the inning and came around to score on leftfielder Steve Brown's RBI groundout. XU pushed its lead to 4-0 in the third on Lindgren's two-run shot, his fourth of the year, and Thomas' 15th home run of the season, a blast to straightaway center. Yermal surrendered five runs (one earned) on five hits in 3.2 innings of work.
Charlotte cut the lead to 5-1 in the fifth as senior Aaron Bray singled home rightfielder Justin Wilson. It marked the 288th hit of Bray's career, good for second all-time in program annals. However, XU pushed its advantage to 8-1 in the bottom of the fifth as Lindgren and Thomas singled and came around to score on a three-run double by junior Bobby Freking, which followed a walk to shortstop Jordan Conley.
The 49ers added a run in the sixth on a solo home run by catcher Zane Williams and two additional runs in the eighth but four untimely errors and seven runners left on base played a big role in Charlotte's first loss at the A-10 Championship since 2006. Williams and Wilson both collected two hits on the afternoon for Charlotte.
Thomas led the XU offensive attack with three hits and three runs scored, while Lindgren scored a pair of runs. Sophomore Brian Muransky closed out the win with 1.2 innings of scoreless relief.
"I have a lot of respect for [head coach] Jim Foster and the URI program so we're just going to gear up and take it one game at a time."
No. 4 Massachusetts 5, No. 4 Fordham 4
Second baseman Peter Copa stroked a two-run homer and senior Mitchell Clegg notched his seventh victory of the season as fourth-seeded Massachusetts edged No. 5 Fordham, 5-4, in the opening game of the 2009 Atlantic 10 Baseball Championship on Wednesday at Fifth Third Field.
Winners of seven straight contests and making its first appearance in the A-10 Championship since 2003, Massachusetts (26-24) will face top-seeded Dayton on Thursday at Noon. Fordham (22-31) will face the loser of this afternoon's Xavier-Charlotte contest later this evening in an elimination game.
Massachusetts jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first as senior Sam Boone led off the inning with a single, advanced to second on shortstop Adam Tempesta's single, and scored on an RBI groundout by Jim Macdonald. After going down in order through the first two innings, Fordham responded with a run in the third as senior John Kahn opened the frame with a single. He then advanced to second on a wild pitch and stole third before coming around to score on shortstop Brian Kownacki's run-scoring single to left.
A two-out RBI single by sophomore Chris Walker scored Kownacki in the fifth to give the Rams a 2-1 lead before Copa's fifth home run of the season with two out off of Fordham southpaw J.P. Mack put the Minutemen back in front, 3-2. Kownacki's second RBI single of the afternoon tied the game at 3-3 as leftfielder Alex Kenny tripled to open the seventh. UMass responded with a run in the bottom of the seventh to regain the lead as junior Brian Baudinet stroked a one-out double and came around to score on an RBI single by Macdonald.
Fordham threatened in the eighth as centerfielder Mike Mobbs singled and advanced to second on a pinch-hit single by freshman Ryan Maghini. UMass junior Bryan Leigh then came on in relief of Clegg and retired Kahn on a shallow fly to center to escape the jam. The Minutemen tacked on an insurance run in the ninth on an RBI hit by senior Tempesta off of Fordham freshman Daniel Munday, Tempesta's third hit of the afternoon.
A two-out RBI single by Walker in the ninth pulled the Rams to within 5-4. With runners at first and second and two outs, Leigh retired Fordham catcher Angelo Ponte on a ground out to second for his third save of the year. Clegg (7-1) allowed three runs on 10 hits over 7.2 innings and fanned seven.
"He did a great job for us. He struggled in one inning but bounced back and did a nice job executing a lot of key pitches," said UMass head coach Mike Stone, who seeks to lead the program to its first A-10 title since 1996.
Four different Minutemen collected multiple hits on the afternoon, led by Tempesta with three.
"Adam's just a clutch guy and has been all four years. He comes through in big situations and is someone you can always rely on," said Stone.
Mack (6-3) allowed four runs on eight hits in 6.1 innings and issued a pair of walks. The loss overshadowed a strong day at the plate by Kownacki, who went 3-for-4 with two RBI. The Rams registered 12 hits on the afternoon but left 10 runners on base.