Niner Nuggets- The Postseason

Photo Courtesy of NCAA

After one of the most successful seasons in program history, the Niners are going back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2011! Charlotte, who has been ranked as high as #15 this season, was selected as the number 2 seed in the Greenville Regional on Monday, marking the highest seeding the program has ever earned. After winning the C-USA Regular Season with a record of 24-8 and an overall record of 39-19, the Niners were rewarded with an extremely drivable regional that gives fans the opportunity to follow the team on the road.

  • The NCAA Tournament field has four Conference USA teams (#1 ODU, #1 LaTech, #2 Southern Miss), and three of the 49ers’ non-conference opponents (#1 Tennessee, #1 ECU, #3 North Carolina). The 49ers record vs 2021 NCAA Tournament teams is 6-7 with wins over ODU, Tennessee, and North Carolina.
  • This will be the sixth NCAA Tournament Appearance in the program’s history (1993, 1998, 2007, 2008, 2011) and the Niners have a 3-10 record overall in NCAA Tourney play.
  • The highest RPI that the 49ers have finished a season with is 40 in 2007. They currently sit at 29.

Before we take a look at the competition in the Greenville Regional we need to recognize the 49ers who were honored by Conference USA for their great season so far.

Now, lets take a look at the teams participating in the Greenville Regional. East Carolina is the host and #1 Seed, Charlotte is #2, Maryland is the #3, and Norfolk State is the 4 seed. First we can get a “bird’s eye view” of the four teams by taking a broad look at a few season long stats. Keep in mind that the 49ers played 58 games, ECU played 56 games, Norfolk State played 51 games, and Maryland played only 44 games.

“Bird’s Eye View” Stats of the Regional Teams

Below are a few notes we have compiled on the the 3 teams that the Niners could face this weekend in the regional. We will start with the host, the East Carolina Pirates.

REGIONAL SEED #1 –  East Carolina

  • CONFERENCE: American Athletic Conference (Finished 1st)
  • 2021 RPI: 15; 2021 RECORD: (41-15)
  • 49ers ALL TIME RECORD VS: 5-32
  • Head Coach Cliff Godwin (255-128-1) is in his 7th season as Head Coach of the Pirates. Godwin was named AAC Coach of the Year in 2021, the third time he has won the award. This will be the 5th regional that he has led the Pirates to and he has also led the Pirates to two Super Regionals.
  • Charlotte fans know the Pirates very well after playing them six times over the past two seasons. ECU swept a March weekend series from the Niners in Greenville with 7-4, 3-1, & 3-1 victories.
  • ECU Second Baseman Connor Norby was named the AAC Player of the Year. He batted .428 on the season with 15 HR, 51 RBI, and 15 SB. Norby was 5 for 11 in the March series against Charlotte with two big HRs.
  • ECU RHP Gavin Williams was named the AAC Pitcher of the Year after going 10-0 with 108 Ks, and a ERA of 1.32. Williams pitched 3.2 innings in relief against the Niners back in March. The Pirates’ ace allowed 2 ER on 3 Hits , and struck out 5 to pick up the Save in a 7-4 win over Charlotte.
  • Other Pirates named All AAC were Freshman DH Josh Moylan (1st Team), Sophomore First Baseman Thomas Francisco (2nd Team), Freshman Third Baseman Zach Agnos (2nd Team), Junior Outfielder Bryson Worrell (2nd Team) and Senior RH reliever Cam Colmore (2nd Team)
  • Freshman LHP Carson Whisenhunt was the number two starter for ECU this season and was 6-1 in 11 starts with 72 Ks and a 3.52 ERA this season. Against Charlotte this season he pitched 7 shutout innings and struck out 9 in a 3-1 Pirates win.
  • Colmore is a solid arm out of the Pirate bullpen with a 1.85 ERA over 26 appearances.
  • The Pirates offense is led by Norby, Francisco (.368, 12 HR, 60 Runs), Moylan (.321), Agnos (.275, 14 Doubles), and Worrell (12 Doubles, 9 SB).
  • This is the third straight season that ECU has hosted a regional. They are 40-62 all time in NCAA Tournament games.
  • Common Opponents and ECU’s Record Against them in 2021: ODU 0-1, App St 3-0, UNCW 0-1, UNC 1-1.

REGIONAL SEED #3 – Maryland

  • CONFERENCE: Big Ten (Finished 2nd)
  • 2021 RPI: 59; 2021 RECORD: 28-16
  • 49ers ALL TIME RECORD: 1st Meeting
  • Head Coach Rob Vaughn (91-80) is finishing his fourth season as Maryland’s head coach. He is one of the youngest coaches in college baseball at 33. This is his first winning season at Maryland.
  • Maryland has seven NCAA Appearances in their program history, most recently in the Winston-Salem Regional in 2017. Their overall record in the NCAA is 9-13.
  • Six Maryland players earned All Big Ten honors: SS Benjamin Cowles (First Team), OF Chris Alleyne, (Second Team), Lefty Reliever Ryan Ramsey (Second Team), 2B Matthew Shaw (Freshman Team), RHP Jason Savacool  (Freshman Team), and DH  Luke Shliger (Freshman Team).
  • Maryland’s starting weekend rotation has started with Sophomore RHP Nick Dean & Freshman RHP Jason Savacool over the last several weeks of the season. Dean is 3-1 with a 2.87 ERA in 9 starts over the season but missed his last start due to a wrist injury. Savacool is 7-2 in 13 starts with a 5.25 ERA on the season. It appears that Sophomore RHP Sean Burke would be next in line to start for the Terrapins.
  • The Terrapin’s bullpen is anchored by Sophomore LHP Ryan Ramsey who has 39 Ks and a 1.82 ERA over 13 relief appearances.
  • Offensively, the Terps are led by Cowles (17 HR, 49 RBI, 9 SB), Alleyene (47 Runs, 22 SB, 8 HR), and Shaw (.335, 15 Doubles).
  • 49er Nick Turnbull pitched one season for the Terrapins before coming to Charlotte. He made 19 appearances for Maryland and struck out 17 in 2019.
  • Maryland is one of 3 teams from the Big Ten to be selected into the NCAA Tournament (Nebraska, Michigan). The Big Ten only played conference games during the 2021 season, so Friday’s game will be Maryland’s first non-conference game of the season.
  • Maryland finished their season winning 18 of their last 22 games.

REGIONAL SEED #4 – Norfolk State

  • CONFERENCE: MEAC (Finished 1st in Northern Division; Won MEAC Tournament)
  • 2021 RPI: 260; 2021 RECORD: 25-26 (18-10 in MEAC)
  • 49ers ALL TIME RECORD: 0-0
  • Coach Keith Shumate is in his fourth season as NSU head baseball coach. Previously coached at NC A&T and Louisburg College. His son Kory redshirted for the 49ers in 2013.
  • Norfolk State senior RHP/ SS/ C Danny Hosley was voted the 2021 MEAC Player of the Year. He was named 1st Team All-MEAC at SS and was also Second-team All-MEAC pitcher. He batted .375 with 23 RBI, and 9 SB this season. On the mound he was 7-1 over 10 starts wit ha 2.95 ERA and 79 Ks.
  • Also making the All MEAC Teams were Senior second baseman Alsander Womack (2nd Team), Senior first baseman Mason Velasquez (2nd Team), junior outfielder Dionte Brown (2nd Team),and junior LHP James Deloatch (3rd Team).
  • Alsander Womack (.358, 50 Runs, 17 SB) is the son of former major leaguer Tony Womack.
  • NSU’s rotation has been LHP Deloatch, RHP Hosley, RHP Justin Walton, & Freshman LHP Dalton Barham
  • Norfolk State has 13 Seniors on the roster.
  • This is the first NCAA Tournament appearance in program history for Norfolk State.
  • Common Opponents and NSU’s Record Against them in 2021: at ODU 0-4, Morehead St 1-3.

VIEWER’S GUIDE

  • All games will be broadcast by the ESPN family of networks. If you don’t have an ESPN+ subscription, now might be a good time to sign up.
  • On the other hand, it appears that there are still outfield GA tickets available through the ECU ticket office. Grab some, put on some green, and head down to Greenville this weekend. Regional Tickets
  • If you do decide to head down, don’t be surprised if hotel rooms are at a premium. As it happens, the NC Republican Party is having a meeting in Greenville this weekend. In fact, Donald Trump will be speaking in town on Saturday night. If you’re looking for a room, consider towns near Greenville such as Rocky Mount or Wilson. We booked an Airbnb in Kinston about 40 minutes away.
  • If you are in Greenville this weekend, come tailgate with us before the games. We plan on picking up some good Eastern NC BBQ on the way in on Friday and making a go of it prior to the game. We hope to be in the Belk Building lot near the stadium. It’s a public lot and will cost $10. That’s lot #6 on this map: ECU Baseball Parking
  • Fans will want to keep an eye on the forecast for the weekend. There’s currently an 80% chance of rain in Greenville for Friday so there’s the potential for the schedule to be impacted. If you’re attending in person, plan accordingly. Greenville Weekend Forecast

This is it, Niner Nation. A weekend a decade in the making. If you are aren’t fired up yet, we can’t help you. We will, however, leave you with this thought:

PUMP IT UP!

Niner Nuggets- Week 14

There were some big things happening with the Charlotte 49er Baseball program over the past week. Let’s take a quick look!!

Niners going Honey Hunting in Gastonia?

In early April following the sweep at FIU, the 49ers were one of 40+ schools to put in a bid to host an NCAA Regional. On Friday the selection committee announced that the Charlotte 49ers were selected as one of the 20 host site finalists.

With the potential capacity of the Hayes unknown at the time the bid was submitted, it was determined that the 49ers would bid to host at the larger, newly named CaroMont Health Park in Gastonia. The brand new stadium just outside of Charlotte has a capacity of 5,000+ and is home to the new professional Atlantic League team, the Gastonia Honey Hunters. The Honey Hunters are opening up their inaugural season next week but will be on a road trip during the time of the NCAA Regionals. Tickets are on sale now and you can reserve your seats by clicking HERE.

What a great milestone for the Charlotte baseball program to be named among the Top 20 programs in the country. The NCAA will determine the final 16 host sites on Sunday or Monday following the conference tournament weekend. Here is a look at how we currently stack up against the other 19 schools selected as finalists (sorted by current RPI):

2021 NCAA Regional Host Finalists

The Hayes is Open for Business!!!

The Charlotte 49ers announced on Monday that FULL CAPACITY would be allowed this week at the Hayes for the final series of the regular season against UNC Wilmington. Face coverings are also no longer required at the Hayes. Up to this point, admission to the Hayes was limited to family members of the teams and limited number of Season Ticket Holders/ Grand Slam Club Members.

Concessions will be open with plenty of ballpark food and drinks, including a large selection of beer. Get your tickets, and come support your nationally ranked 49ers this week. Get your tickets by clicking HERE

Niners win Two in Texas to Clinch Conference USA Regular Season Title

Charlotte was able to win two games at Rice this weekend to clinch the #1 seed in the upcoming Conference USA Tournament and thus claim the 2021 Conference USA Regular Season Championship. This is Charlotte’s 1st Conference USA Regular Season Championship in program history and the first regular season title since 2013 when the Niners finished 1st in the Atlantic 10.

The Niners will face the #8 seed Middle Tennessee State next Wednesday in Ruston. Also in the bracket are the #4 seed Old Dominion & #5 seed FAU. In the opposite bracket 2nd seeded LaTech will play #7 seed UTSA, and #3 seed Southern Miss will take on #6 seed WKU. We will have more on the Conference Tourney next week!!

A Look at UNC Wilmington

The Seahawks clinched the South Division in the CAA this past weekend and have a 29-17 record with an 81 RPI. They are coming off a mid-week loss at Chapel Hill on Tuesday. They’ve won 3 weekend series in a row and are hosting the CAA tournament at their place next week.

Here is a ‘bird’s eye view’ of how the teams stack up in the stats:

Niner Nuggets- Week 13

Graduates 2021
49er Baseball Graduates- Photo by Sam Roberts/ FreezeFrame

Series Sweep over Marshall  – It was a big weekend at the Hayes and the 4 game sweep was only a part of it. Before the double header on Saturday, Chancellor Gaber , AD Mike Hill and Director of the Academic Center Mark Verberg participated in a ceremony honoring the 49er Baseball graduates. The Niners are on the road during UNC Charlotte Commencement, so it was nice to hold a special ceremony at the Hayes recognizing their academic achievements. The graduates honored were : Todd Elwood, Colby Bruce, Carson Johnson, Jackson Boss, Ryan Czanstkowski, Jacob Whitley, Andrew Roach, Trae Starnes, Nick Turnbull, Matt Brooks, and Craig Keuchel. Congratulations to all the graduates!! Welcome to being an alumnus!!!

The 49ers also had Senior Day on Sunday to honor the Seniors on the team, Todd Elwood, Carson Johnson, Nick Turnbull, Ryan Czanstkowski, and Craig Keuchel. Thank you Seniors for putting the #9AcrossTheChest and representing our University so well over the years.

On to baseball, most of the games this weekend were back and forth with the Niners having to battle back to earn the sweep. Some top performances from the week:

  • Spencer Giesting got his much anticipated first start of his career, and he was up to the challenge, throwing a 7 Inning CG, with 11 Ks, only allowing 3 runs on 5 hits.
  • Bryce McGowan gave the Niners another 6 strong innings on a Friday night, striking out 10, and only allowing 1 ER.
  • Nick Turnbull threw 4 no-hit innings out of the pen on Senior Day to help the Niners earn the Sunday Sweep.
  • Austin Knight had 6 hits on the weekend including a HR and 2 more doubles to add to his NCAA lead.
  • LuJames Groover III had 5 hits on the weekend and scored 4 runs. He’s now 2nd in C-USA with a .352 Average behind Austin Knight.
  • Aaron McKeithan had 5 hits and 5 RBI for the weekend.
  • Will Butcher had 2 HR and 5 RBI on the weekend.
  • Austin Marozas and Trae Starnes both pitched well in their 2 appearances on the weekend.

Rankings, Rankings, & More Rankings – After a 4-0 week the Niners continued to receive national recognition in the polls. This week the Niners jumped up to #18 in the Baseball America poll and #20 in D1 Baseball’s Top 25. They are also ranked 24th by Collegiate Baseball Newspaper, 20th in the USA Today Coaches Poll, and 18th in the NCBWA poll. The Niners have also been projected to earn a post season regional berth by both Baseball America and D1 Baseball.

#PostSeason – Charlotte has put themselves in a great position to receive the program’s first at-large NCAA Tournament bid since 1998. In fact, the 49ers were one of 40+ programs across the country to put in a bid to host an NCAA regional. Due to Covid protocols, the NCAA is selecting regional sites earlier than normal this season in order to properly prepare sites for these events. Friday morning, the committee is supposed to announce the 20 finalists for the regional sites. They will later cut this down to the 16 host sites during tournament championship weekend. D1 Baseball’s Kendall Rogers mentioned last night that the Niners could possibly be hosting from the new Gastonia Honey Hunters’ Ballpark if chosen as a regional host.

The latest projections from D1 Baseball show the Niners as a #2 seed in the Tallahassee Regional. Baseball America projects the Niners to host a Regional as the #14 overall seed.

The Niners have certainly put together a nice resume to be considered as a regional host and an at large team in the 2021 NCAA Tournament. Here is a quick look:

  • The Niners (35-14, 22-6 C-USA) are currently in 1st place in Conference USA, which has had the 5th best conference RPI of all leagues for much of the season.
  • Within conference play the Niners have:
    • Split 8 games with nationally ranked ODU (4-4)
    • Swept FAU, FIU, and Marshall in 4-game series. (12-0)
    • Won 3 of 4 over WKU and UTSA, with both losses coming in extra innings (6-2)
    • Final conference series at Rice
  • The Non-conference portion of the schedule has helped propel Charlotte to 16th in the current RPI. The highlight of the non conference resume is the 9-0 shutout mid-week victory over #5 Tennessee at the Hayes. Overall the Niners were 4-2 in mid-week games with victories over North Carolina on the road, and a ‘home and home’ sweep over App State. The only 2 losses were on the road at UNCG and at Wake Forest early in the season.
  • On the weekends out of conference, the Niners have won three of their five series’. They swept both Morehead State and William & Mary to start the season, and won two of three over Rhode Island. The only home series loss was two games to one loss to Western Carolina in Week 3. The Niners also lost three games on the road at #11 ECU in Week 4. The Niners have a home series scheduled with UNCW to end the regular season.
Charlotte’s Non-conference opponents for 2021.

The Conference USA Race

We are coming up on the final weekend of conference play in the 2021 baseball season. The league has been great this year, with four teams being ranked at once in the polls, and has spent much of the season as the 5th best RPI conference in the country. C-USA currently has 6 teams in the top 100 RPI and our non-conference record sits at 126-103.

The Niners currently sit in first place in the East division with a 3 game lead over ODU. They are also sitting on top of the league as the #1 seed in the upcoming C-USA Tournament in Ruston. We believe one 49er win or ODU loss will clinch the East Division title for Charlotte. They can also clinch the #1 seed in the tournament with 3 wins or a combination of 49er wins and LT/USM/ODU losses.

With Conference USA going with the divisional format this season, the teams selected for the tournament are a little different than in years past. This year the top three from each division will earn a spot into the Tournament and two ‘at-large’ teams will be selected. The two remaining teams with the best record after the top three seeds from each division will earn these two spots.

As of now, Charlotte, ODU, FAU, and WKU have clinched spots in the tournament from the East division. LaTech and Southern Miss have clinched tourney spots from the West division. That leaves UTSA, MTSU, FIU, Rice & UAB all fighting for the final West division spot and the final ‘at-large’ spot. Marshall is the only team that has been eliminated from post season play.

As you can see, there is still plenty to play for in Conference USA (unless you are Marshall), and it should be a very exciting weekend from top to bottom.

A look at Rice

Charlotte is approaching their final conference weekend of the season this week on the road at Rice. The Niners are flying down to Houston this weekend to take on the Owls, who are coming off their first C-USA series victory since May of 2019. After their series win at UAB last weekend, the Owls sit at 21-27-1 overall and 9-18-1 in conference. Rice is still fighting for a spot in the tournament later this month in Ruston.

The four game series begins Friday at 2:00 ET, continues with a double-header (7 innings) on Saturday starting at 2:00 ET, and concludes with a 1:00 ET start on Sunday. All games of the series will be on CUSA.TV.

This will also be somewhat of a Homecoming for 49er Senior Craig Keuchel, who is from Conroe, Texas.

For a ‘bird’s eye view’ of the match-up this coming weekend, let’s take a look at where these teams sit in these Conference USA stats:

Niner Nuggets- Week 9

Image
Photo Courtesy Charlotte Athletics

Top Stories

Four Straight C-USA Series Wins  – We are halfway through the 8 weekend Conference USA schedule and the 49ers are 14-2 in conference with 4 consecutive series wins. The 49ers only 2 losses have come in extra innings and they have identical 7-1 records at home and on the road in conference. Along the way, the Niners won 11 straight to tie a school record.

Rankings, Rankings, & More Rankings – After a 3-1 week the Niners continued to receive national recognition in the polls. This week the Niners jumped up 2 spots to #19 in D1 Baseball’s Top 25. They are also ranked 29th by Collegiate Baseball Newspaper, 21st in the USA Today Coaches Poll, and 24th in the NCBWA poll. The Niners have also been projected to earn a post season regional berth by both Baseball America and D1 Baseball.

Going Deep – The Niners hit 5 HRs this weekend back at the Hayes. That gives them 42 on the season and puts them tied for 10th All Time on the 49ers HR List. They are tied with the 1995, 2005, and 2010 teams. The 49ers All Time Record for HRs is 110 set by the 1986 team. The 49ers have 21 Games left in the regular season and are currently 26th in the NCAA in HRs.

Top Performers

  • Outfielder Dominic Pilolli was named Conference USA Hitter of the Week after batting .600 on the week with 3 HR, 3 Doubles, a Triple, and 10 RBI. All three HRs this weekend came when the Niners were trailing, and two of them tied the game. Pilolli is the 2nd 49er to win the weekly honor this season. Dom was also named one of the Top Performers on Saturday by D1 Baseball.
  • RHP Andrew Lindsey was named one of the Top Performers on Sunday by D1 Baseball. He threw 7 shutout innings of relief on Sunday scattering 6 hits and grabbing 6 Ks.
  • Since returning to the line-up, Outfielder Todd Elwood has a hit in 9 of the 10 games he’s played, driven in 10 Runs and scored 14 for the Niners. He’s batting .500 (17-34) since returning and added two Doubles this past weekend. He’s also been holding things down in center field. defensively.
  • RHP Bryce McGowan had another big Friday night start, allowing only 2 ER on 5 hits over 5 IP. He added 9 Ks and leads the team with 69 Ks (2nd in C-USA).
  • David McCabe returned to the line-up full time this weekend as the 49ers DH. He was 4-12 on the weekend with a Homer (9), a Double and 2 RBI.
  • LHP Christian Lothes made 3 appearances each of the 3 days of the weekend and struck out 6 while only allowing 1 Run. He leads the Niners with a 2.86 ERA.
  • Third Baseman Austin Knight added two more doubles to give him 20 on the season. He leads the country in Doubles and is rumored to be eyeing Bo Robinson’s school record of 32 Doubles in a season. Overall the 49ers currently lead the Country with 83 Doubles.
  • First Baseman LuJames Groover III had the go ahead HR for the Niners in Game 3 of the series and had 5 hits and 5 RBI on the weekend.

Tracking the Enemy

Here’s a look at how Charlotte’s (25-10, 18 RPI) Non-Conference opponents fared this past week:

This Week in C-USA

C-USA presently sits at 6th in the RPI ratings. The overall out of conference record is 123-98. We are half-way through the conference season and it is time to start looking ahead at the Tournament in Ruston. The Top 8 teams will make the tourney.

Up Next

Charlotte is approaching their 2nd 5-game week of the season this week. The Niners are travelling to Boone on Tuesday for a non-conference game at Appalachian State. This will be the first non-conference game for the Niners since beating App State 15-5 at Opening Night for Atrium Health Ballpark in Kannapolis last month. The game is at 5:00 and and will be shown on ESPN+. Fans can also listen to the call of the game with Sean for free via CUSA.TV. Ticket information for the game can be found here.

The Niners then return to the Hayes for a much anticipated Top 25 Conference USA match-up with #20 ranked Old Dominion. This will be the first of two 4-game series as the Niners will travel to Norfolk next weekend to take on the Monarchs again. Yes, that will be eight straight conference games vs ODU. The four game series begins Friday at 6:00, continues with a double-header (7 innings) on Saturday starting at 2:00, and concludes with a 2:00 start on Sunday. All games of the series will be on CUSA.TV.

For a ‘bird’s eye view’ of the match-up this coming weekend, let’s take a look at where these teams sit in these Conference USA stats:

Here are the C-USA match-ups this weekend:

  • ODU @ CLT
  • FAU @ FIU
  • Rice @ UTSA
  • Marshall @ LaTech
  • WKU @ USM
  • UAB @ MTSU

Niner Nuggets- Week 8

Photo by @CharlotteBSB
Photo: @charlottebsb

Top Stories

Sweeping the Sunshine State – For the second consecutive weekend the Niners earned a conference sweep over a team from Florida. This time is was 4 victories over FIU in Miami. As a result, the guys are sitting atop C-USA at 11-1, 22-9 overall.

Planes, Trains, & Automobiles – After sharing a flight to Miami with the softball team (who won their series at FAU), the team’s return flight on Sunday was cancelled. No worries, they happened to have a couple busses handy. Of course, that’s still a long ride. Even longer when one of the busses breaks down. They guys wound up grabbing a hotel for the night and making back Monday evening. This, along with UNC-CH’s weather delayed series vs Duke, led to Tuesday night’s game in Chapel Hill being pushed back to April 27th.

Rankings, Rankings, & More Rankings – It’s a pretty simple formula: win games, get noticed. That’s exactly what the Niners have been doing. This week the Niners check in at #21 in D1 Baseball’s Top 25. They are also 27th in the USA Today Coaches Poll and 28th in the NCBWA poll. Just win, baby!

Golden Knight? – Speaking of recognition, when you’re having the kind of year Austin Knight is having, you’re going to get noticed. This week, Austin was named to the Golden Spikes watch list. The list is comprised of 45 of the top players in the country. This is the first time that a player from Charlotte has appeared on the list. There will be several more rounds of the competition before a winner is named in July.

May Madness at The Hayes? – Well, maybe. Like everything else this year, the process for selecting NCAA tournament host sites is a bit different this year. Normally, they would be announced right before the parings are unveiled on Selection Monday. However, due to protocol requirements, bids to host were due on April 12th and will be announced on May 10th. Can it happen? You won’t know if you don’t ask. Good on Mike Hill and the rest of the department for stepping forward.

Tracking the Enemy

Here’s a look at how Charlotte’s (22-9, 21 RPI) Non-Conference opponents fared this past week:

This Week in C-USA

C-USA presently sits at 6th in the RPI ratings. The overall out of conference record is 123-98.

Up Next

The Niners are back home at the Hayes this weekend hosting UTSA. UTSA is coming in at 14-12 overall and 6-5 in C-USA.

The four game series begins Friday at 6:00, continues with a double-header (7 innings) on Saturday starting at 1:00, and concludes with a Noon start on Sunday. All games of the series will be on CUSA-TV.

For a ‘bird’s eye view’ of the match-up this weekend, let’s take a look at where these teams sit in these Conference USA stats:

Niner Nuggets- Week 7

Photo by @CharlotteBSB
Photo: @CharlotteBSB

Top Stories

How SWEEP it Is!! — The Niners completed a 4 -game sweep over FAU at the Hayes this past weekend. It was a very exciting series that went back and forth, and the Niners coming away with four straight wins. Three of the wins were 1-run games and the two Saturday games both featured 49er walk-offs.

It was the first 49er C-USA sweep since sweeping Marshall in three games at the Hayes in May of 2018.

Walk It Off- What a Saturday of baseball at the Hayes this weekend!! In the first game the Niners jumped out to a 7-1 lead, only to see FAU jump back and take an 8-7 lead into the bottom of the 6th. Todd Elwood got the Niners going with a single and then advanced to 2nd on a passed ball. Carson Johnson drove in Elwood to tie the game at 8-8. After exchanging zeros and going to extras, Carson Johnson once again stepped up with the winning run, Jack Dragum, in scoring position. Johnson comes through, driving a ball deep over the center fielder’s head to score Dragum easily, the Niners celebrate for the first time on Saturday, as Carson’s teammates bombarded him at second base. Here’s a look at our view of the play.

In game 2, the Niners trailed 4-3 in the 6th when Todd Elwood drove in Hunter Baker to tied everything up at 4. No extras were needed in this one as the Niners won it in the 7th. Will Butcher got it going with a 2-out walk. Dominic Pilolli then pinch ran for Butch and stole second base to put him in scoring position. Dragum followed with a walk and the Craig Keuchel laced a shot down the left field line to score Pilolli easily. The Niner celebrate again on the field as Craig was attacked by his teammates. Here’s a link to our view.

Players on the way back – The Niners are starting to get some players back after several have missed time recently. Todd Elwood and Carson Johnson returned full time to the line-up this weekend, while we saw Dominic Pilolli and David McCabe easing back in to the line-up. Both came off the bench to contribute this past weekend as pinch hitters and pinch runners.

Top Performers

Tracking the Enemy

Here’s a look at how Charlotte’s (18-9, 28 RPI) Non-Conference opponents fared this past week:

This Week in C-USA

C-USA presently sits at 7 in the RPI ratings, just behind the AAC for 6th, and just ahead of the Missouri Valley in 8th. The overall out of conference record is 122-95

Up Next

The Niners jump back on the road this weekend for their first plane ride of the season as they head down to Miami to take on FIU. FIU is coming in at 12-15 overall and 4-4 in C-USA. They took 3 of 4 from WKU last week and lost 3 of 4 to ODU the week prior. The Panthers traveled to Miami this week and lost 8-3 to the Hurricanes.

The four game series begins Friday at 7:00, continues with a double-header (7 innings) on Saturday starting at 2:30, and concludes with a 12:00 start on Sunday. The games Friday and Sunday will be televised on CUSA-TV. All games of the series will be on the radio via CUSA-TV.

For a ‘bird’s eye view’ of the match-up this weekend, let’s take a look at where these teams sit in these Conference USA stats:

Tale of the Tape: 2020 vs. 2021

With conference play about to begin, we compared a sampling of metrics year-over-year between last year’s team and the current squad. Here are the numbers and a few observations below:

20202021
Record9-811-8
RPI12141
Strength of Schedule7114
Offense
Runs/Game5.357.11
Batting Avg..259.283
On Base %.374.354
Slugging %.339.477
Doubles2036
Home Runs830
Walks9460
Strikeouts130145
Stolen Bases-Attempts15-2319-21
Pitching
Earned Run Average6.343.44
WHIP1.581.34
Opponent Batting Avg..262.206
Walks8498
Strikeouts157207
Doubles3528
Home Runs1712
Fielding
Fielding %.957.982
Errors2712
Double Plays2028
Stolen Bases Allowed5219
Runners Caught Stealing57
  • Yes, the RPI (Ratings Percentage Index) is a little odd this year due to various conference scheduling policies. For example, the Big 10 is only playing league games. Still, a rating of 41 and an SOS (Strength of Schedule) of 14 are not a reason to apologize.
  • Offensive production is up almost 2 runs per game. Take a look at team batting average and slugging percentage. These are clear improvements. On base percentage and walks are both down, however. You might be tempted to think that the guys must be striking out more with the aggressive attitude the team brings to the plate. K’s, however, are only up modestly and do not account for the discrepancy. We tend to attribute this to more outs being recorded via fly balls and line drives into the outfield. You can’t collect hits with the bat on your shoulder. When you look at the numbers of home runs and doubles, it’s hard to complain. Heck, David McCabe has matched the 2020 team in home runs by himself. Austin Knight has half as many doubles as the entire 2020 team. Still, we think you can expect to see plate discipline be an area of emphasis.
  • Pitching statistics have improved in every area but one: walks. We knew this would be an area to keep an eye on this season. So far, it’s still a work in progress. We stand by our preseason statement: when this staff throws strikes, they’re going to be tough to beat. 
  • The coaching staff preaches defense constantly. You can see it paying off in the reduction in errors. Guys like Dragum, Knight, Johnson, Groover, and McCabe don’t make many mistakes on the infield and that’s a huge part of it. The item that really jumps off the page is the significant drop in the amount of stolen bases allowed. Part of this has to do with the pitching: there are simply less runners on base. This is also a testament to the job that Aaron McKeithan is doing holding runners on from behind the plate. “Mac” doesn’t grab a lot of headlines, but he has proven to be a significant offseason addition.

Niner Nuggets- Week 5

Photo: @CharlotteBSB

Top Stories

Playing Uptown at Truist Field– The Niners were scheduled to play College of Charleston this weekend in Charlotte with Game 2 of the series being played at Truist Field, home of the Charlotte Knights. As we are well aware, any sporting event these days is always “subject to change.” On Wednesday afternoon it was announced the College of Charleston would not be coming to Charlotte due to Covid 19 concerns within the Charleston program.  It was a crazy 24-48 hours following the announcement, but Rhode Island agreed to come down to Charlotte and play Charlotte for 3 games.  Since the Rams were traveling by bus, the Friday game was moved to create a double header at Truist Field on Saturday. The series finale was scheduled for Sunday at the Hayes.  A socially distant crowd of nearly 2,000 fans bought tickets to see the Niners play Uptown on a Saturday afternoon and it was a great college baseball atmosphere.

Series Win over Rhode Island– The Niners scored one run in the 1st inning and 1 run in the 10th inning to walk it off on Rhode Island in Game 1. The Niners fell in 7 innings to URI in Game 2 by the score of 6-3, then bounced back with a 6-3 win at the Hayes on Sunday.  The series win gives the 49ers 3 series’ wins to 2 series’ losses in the early non-conference schedule.

Mid-Week at Wake Forest – The Niners dropped a 4-1 decision at Wake Forest to close out their 4 game road trip. Marozas allowed 2 ER on 4 H over 5 IP, and struck out a career high 6.

49ers game at Atrium Health Ballpark in Kannapolis sold Out – look for a decidedly pro-Charlotte crowd in Kannapolis on Tuesday night for the game vs App St. The Grand Slam Club/ Charlotte Students presale was a success. When the remaining tickets were put on sale to the general public, they were gone within minutes.

Top Performers

  • Austin Knight– 5 for15, 3 Doubles, 4 RBI
  • Gino Groover -5 for 15 , 2 Doubles, 2 RBI
  • Bryce McGowan– 7.1 IP, 5 K , 4 H 1 ER
  • Andrew Lindsey– 4 IP, 4 H, 6 K, 0 ER
  • Jackson Boss– 5.2 IP in 3 Appearances, 4 H , 1 ER, 4 K
  • Walk-off Heroics- After the bullpen kept URI off the board in the 9th & 10th innings of Game 1, with the help of some outstanding defensive plays by Carson Johnson & Todd Elwood, the Niners were able to walk it off in the 10th. The inning started, fittingly by Elwood working a leadoff Walk, then Johnson was HBP. A wild pitch that opened up 1st base, made the URI staff decide to Intentionally walk David McCabe to load the bases. Craig Keuchel then worked a 4 pitch walk-off walk to grab the game winning RBI.

Tracking the Enemy

Here’s a look at how Charlotte’s (10-8, 36 RPI) Non-Conference opponents faired this week:

This Week in C-USA

C-USA presently sits at 7 in the RPI ratings, just behind the Missouri Valley for 6th, and just ahead of the Sun Belt in 9th.

Up Next

Before jumping in to Conference USA play this weekend, the Niners will host App State at Atrium Health Ballpark on Tuesday.  This will be the 1st baseball game ever played in the new ballpark, which is home of the Class A Kannapolis Cannonballers. The game will be televised on CUSA TV at 6:00.

Conference USA play begins this weekend as the 49ers travel to Bowling Green, KY to take on the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers.  They travel to Louisville on Tuesday before heading into conference play this weekend.  The weekend series will be a 4 game series with a Double Header on Saturday, and single games on Friday and Sunday.  It appears that the Friday game and Sunday will be on Hilltoppers Facebook Channel.

Niner Nuggets: Week 4

Charlotte 49ers Alternate Logo | Sports Logo History

It was an up and down week for the Niners as they went 1-3 on the week. After a dominating 9-0 victory over 14th ranked Tennessee on Tuesday, Charlotte dropped three highly contested games at #13 East Carolina over the weekend. The Niners now sit at 8-6 after 4 weeks of the 2021 baseball season and their current RPI is 42 with Conference USA play starting next weekend.

Top Stories

  • The Niners picked up a very big home win on Tuesday over 14th ranked Tennessee. Charlotte was clicking on all cylinders vs the Vols in a 9-0 shutout of the SEC foe. Austin Marozas pitched 6 shutout innings in his best performance of his young 49er career. The bullpen of Geisting, Grace, and Boss continued the great pitching, allowing 0 hits and 0 runs.  The offense was led by Freshman Will Butcher, who put the 9ers up 1-0 with his RBI single in the 1st. He later would blast 2 HRs and ended the night with 5 RBI.  David McCabe, and Gino Groover added HRs as they went back to back to back in the 7th to blow the game open. Craig Keuchel added 3 hits and scored a Run in the victory..
  • The Niners traveled to Greenville this weekend to take on the #13 ECU Pirates.  There was good pitching all around throughout the weekend from both teams, including the 49ers starters Andrew Lindsey, Bryce McGowan, and Matt Brooks. The 49ers bullpen was strong as well, only allowing 3 ER over the weekend. ECU pitching happened to be a little bit better as the Pirates took all three games by scores of 7-4, 3-1, and 3-1. The Niners’ offense was led by McCabe (2 HRs), McKeithan (4 hits, HR), and Jack Dragum (5 hits on the weekend).
  • The 49ers announced last week that Charlotte will be hosting College of Charleston Uptown and Truist Field, Home of the Charlotte Knights.  The game will be game 2 of the weekend series and is scheduled for 1:30 on Saturday March 20th. The stadium will allow for 30% capacity, which is roughly 3000 tickets. You can get your tickets at this lnk:  https://www.ticketreturn.com/prod2/Buy.asp?EventID=316347#.YEeCpWhKguV
  • In another announcement last week, the 49ers will be hosting App State in the first baseball game in the new Atrium Health Ballpark on March 23 at 6:00. Atrium Health ballpark is home of the Kannapolis Cannonballers,  Class A affiliate of the Chicago White Sox. The park opened in 2020, but due to the pandemic, it has not hosted a baseball game until now. There was a pre-sale for tickets last week and the remaining tickets went on sale today. The game is now SOLD OUT!! Should be a fun atmosphere.

Top Performers

  • Will Butcher- The Freshman transfer from NC State had a big day against Tennessee going 3 for 4 with 2 HRs and an RBI single.
  • David McCabe- Blasted a HR in the Tennessee game and also went yard from both sides of the plate in Friday night’s game vs ECU. D1 Baseball named McCabe one of Friday’s Top Performers. Currently leading the team in HR (8).
  • Austin Marozas- Had his best performance of his young 49er career vs Tennessee, scattering 5 hits over 6 innings of scoreless baseball. Struck out 3 and walked 1 on the day.
  • Gino Groover- Slid into the lineup vs Tennessee after a pre-game injury to starting second baseman Carson Johnson. He went 2 for 4 with a solo HR and an RBI single. He also flashed the leather several times over the past week, making some outstanding plays in the field.  He currently is riding a 4 game hit streak as he had a hit in all three games at ECU.
  • Aaron McKeithan- The catcher was 5-16 on the week with a HR vs ECU on Saturday.
  • Bryce McGowan- pitched a great game vs ECU on Saturday allowing only 1 ER on 5 hits and 8 Ks. 
  • Austin Knight- The 3rd baseman saw his hit streak end this weekend after getting a hit in the 49ers first 12 games. Currently leading the team in RBI (17) and Doubles (6). Helped lead the 9ers to a victory over his former team, playing solid D and going 1 for 5 and scoring a Run vs the Vols.
  • Jack Dragum added 6 hits on the week, including going 3 for 3 on Sunday.

Conference USA Watch (As of 3/15/2021) – 92-69 OOC, 8 RPI, 6 ELO

  • WKU (8-7, RPI 114) – Lost at Kentucky, Swept Bowling Green in 4 games
  • FAU (9-5, RPI 31) – Lost at Miami, Lost 2 of 3 to Indiana State
  • FIU (6-8, RPI 160) – Split 4 game series at Coastal Carolina
  • UTSA (5-6, RPI 144) – Lost at #9 TCU, Swept at #15 LSU i n3 games
  • ODU (12-3, RPI 48) – Beat William & Mary, Swept Ball State in 3 games.
  • Marshall (3-4, RPI 177)- Lost at EKU, Took series over Mercer 2-1
  • Rice (8-7, RPI 240) – Beat Houston Baptist, Beat Northern Illinois(2 GMS), Split 2 with Kansas St
  • MTSU (9-5, RPI 208) – Split 4 games with Valpo
  • USM (9-5, RPI 74) – Swept Louisiana-Lafayette in 3 games
  • UAB (6-8, RPI 230) – Lost to Auburn, Swept at Georgia Southern in 3 games
  • Louisiana Tech (9-5, RPI 22) – Beat ULM, Lost series to #1 Arkansas 1-2

Tracking the Enemy – Non-conference opponents (As of 3/15)

  • Morehead State (7-7) – Beat Ohio, Won series over Eastern Kentucky 2-1
  • William & Mary (2-8) – Lost to ODU, Lost 2 of 3 to College of Charleston
  • UNCG (10-5) – Neat NC A&T, Swept by #14 Tennessee
  • WCU (11-4 )- Beat Kennesaw St, Swept St Johns in 3 games
  • #13 Tennessee (14-3) – Lost to CHARLOTTE, Swept UNCG in 3 games
  • #9 ECU (13-2) – Beat Duke, Swept CHARLOTTE in 3 games
  • Wake Forest (3-6) – Lost 2 games at Miami
  • College of Charleston (5-9) – Lost at Campbell, Won  series over William & Mary 2-1
  • App St (6-8) – Swept at UNCW in 3 games
  • UNC-CH (10-4) – Lost to Liberty, Swept Clemson in 3 games
  • UNCW (10-3) – Swept App State in 3 games

Up next:

The non-conference schedule continues this week for the Niners as they travel to Wake Forest on Tuesday to close out a 4 game road trip. This game can be seen on ACC Network or the ESPN+ app at 4:00. 

 After the mid-week in Winston-Salem, the Niners will return home to the Queen City to host College of Charleston.  Game 1 is scheduled to be at the Hayes on Friday night at 6:00. The Saturday game between these two teams is scheduled to be played uptown at Truist Field at 1:30. The finale will be played Sunday at the Hayes at 1:00.  All three games can be seen on CUSA-TV.  You can also purchase tickets to the game uptown at the link below:  https://www.ticketreturn.com/prod2/Buy.asp?EventID=316347#.YFDUt51KguV

Niner Nuggets: Week 3

The Niners went 1-3 on the week dropping a back and forth mid-week match-up at UNCG, and then taking one of 3 games this weekend against Western Carolina.

Top Stories

  • The Niners got to WCU ace Zebby Matthews (SoCon Pitcher of the Week) for 7 Runs on 9 Hits on Friday in Game 1 of the weekend series. The Niners held the Catamounts to 3 runs and picked up a victory.
  • An unwanted theme that has recurred in all 3 of the 49ers losses in the young season has been mistakes leading to unearned runs. The Niners have played well defensively this season, as only Rice has fewer errors among C-USA teams that have played for 3 weeks. The few Niners errors this week unfortunately led to 9 unearned runs being allowed. Five of those were scored in WCU’s big inning on Sunday, and those runs proved to be the deciding runs in the game. It is also very important to note that 2 of the key “errors” credited to the Niners this week were very controversial calls. Bad calls happen and this weekend it seemed to snowball into a big inning. Coach Woodard mentioned in postgame that “We’ve got to do a better job of limiting the damage. You get 27 outs. If we give our opponents 28-30 outs, it makes the game more challenging.” That goes to playing clean defensively and limiting the walks/HBPs. 
  • David McCabe has been one of the most explosive hitters for the 49ers in the first 3 weeks of the season. He leads the 49ers in HR (5) and is slugging .882 on the year. McCabe left Friday’s game with an apparent thumb injury and missed the final 2 games of the series. The Niners offense seemed different without Big Maple in the middle of the line-up and scored a season low 2 runs on Saturday. The bats bounced back with % runs on Sunday, but it is clear that McCabe is a key cog in the 49ers offense. WE hope to dee him back in the line-up soon.
  • The 49ers announced on Monday that Charlotte will be hosting College of Charleston Uptown and Truist Field, Home of the Charlotte Knights.  The game will be game 2 of the weekend series and is scheduled for 1:30 on Saturday March 20th. The stadium will allow for 30% capacity, which is roughly 3000 tickets. You can get your tickets at this lnk:  https://www.ticketreturn.com/prod2/Buy.asp?EventID=316347#.YEeCpWhKguV

Top Performers

  • Aaron McKeithan (.416, HR, 3 RBI)- Mac hasn’t grabbed headlines but he has been a solid addition to the club. Behind the plate he has been a brick wall and he has thrown out 3 base runners attempting to steal. This was an area of emphasis for the team heading into last offseason. At the plate, he’s slashing .364/.512/.545. That includes a team leading 5 HBPs. Catchers are tough. 
  • Austin Knight (.294, 2B, 3 RBI, 3 SB)- We have been spoiled by a couple of  multi-homer weeks for Knight, but he put up another solid week in Week 3. After batting nearly .300 on the week, his average dropped to .400 on the season!! Currently leading the 49ers in Doubles (5), RBI (17), and stolen bases (5)
  • Bryce McGowan (6 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 9 K) -Bryce pitched well this weekend putting up a career high 9 Ks vs WCU.
  • Matt Brooks (5 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 7 K)- Another solid outing for Matt Brooks striking out 7 in 5 IP.

Conference USA Watch (As of 3/8/2021)

  • WKU (4-6) – Lost series at Tulane 2-1
  • #20 FAU (8-2) – Beat #6 Florida, Split 2 games v FGCU
  • FIU (4-6) – Swept by Indiana State in 3 games
  • UTSA (5-2) – Won series vs UT Arlington 3-1
  • ODU (8-3) – Beat #17 ECU, Won series over Northeastern 2-1
  • Rice (4-6) – Beat Prairie View A&M, Went 1-2 in Shriners Classic
  • MTSU (7-3) – Won series at South Alabama 2-1
  • Marshall (1-2)- Lost series to Morehead St 1-2
  • USM (6-5) – Lost to #2 Miss St, Won series over Jacksonville State 2-1
  • UAB (6-4) – Lost series to Kennesaw St 1-2
  • Louisiana Tech (7-3) – Lost at UL-Lafayette, Swept McNeese St in 3 games

Tracking the Enemy – Non-conference opponents (As of 3/8)

  • Morehead State (4-6) – Beat #1 Louisville, Won series over Marshall 2-1
  • William & Mary (1-5) – Beat George Mason, Lost 2 games to Central Michigan
  • UNCG (9-2) – Beat Charlotte, Swept Elon in 3 games.
  • WCU (7-4)- Took 2 of 3 at Charlotte
  • #15 Tennessee (11-2) – Beat Austin Peay, Swept Georgia State in 3 games
  • #14 ECU (9-2) – Lost to ODU, Swept App State 3 games
  • Wake Forest (3-4) – DNP
  • College of Charleston (3-7) – Lost series vs Alabama 1-2
  • App St (6-5) – Beat NC A&T, Swept at ECU in 3 games
  • UNC-CH (7-3) – Lost series to VT 1-2
  • UNCW (7-3) – Split 4 games series with Cincinnati

RPI Watch: Charlotte 82, C-USA 12 – It’s still too early to pay too much attention to this. It’s probably not worth getting too invested until conference play begins. While the Niners are 7-3 in OOC play, C-USA is 67-45.

Up next: The Niners are heading into a week where they will face two nationally ranked teams. On Tuesday the Niners will host #15 Tennessee at the Hayes. The Vols are 11-2 on the season and come to Charlotte after sweeping Georgia State this past weekend.  The game will be televised on CUSA-TV at 4:00.  This weekend, the Niners will travel to #14 East Carolina for a 3 game series. ECU is 9-2 coming off a series sweep of App State this past weekend. The series will be televised on ecupirates.com on Friday, and ESPN+ on Saturday/ Sunday.

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