Hit with numerous weather delays on Wednesday, the Conference USA baseball tournament in Biloxi, Miss., has been forced to re-schedule, which has resulted in postponement of the first-round game between UTSA and Charlotte.
The Roadrunners and 49ers are now set to play their C-USA opener on Thursday at 9 a.m. at MGM Park.
Charlotte’s Todd Elwood high chops a ground ball to second base in the ninth inning, driving in the first run of the game for the 49ers.
The Charlotte 49ers scored twice in the top of the ninth inning Thursday night to defeat light-hitting UTSA, 2-0, winning the first game of a three-game series and registering their fourth straight victory in Conference USA.
In the bottom of the ninth, Jonah Patten closed for his ninth save of the year, giving the 49ers a win at Roadrunner Field to open a series that will complete the regular season for both teams.
The series continues with Game 2 on Friday at 6 p.m. Game 3 is set for Saturday at 10 a.m.
Charlotte and UTSA both will advance to the C-USA postseason tournament, set for next week in Biloxi, Mississippi. Right now, it appears that the 49ers might have a decent chance to make a run at the title.
With the victory over UTSA, the 49ers showcased some dominant pitching to extend a streak of success that includes 10 victories in their last 12 games.
UTSA coach Jason Marshall lamented a ninth-inning rally fueled by a few fortuitous bounces for Charlotte.
“The (ground) ball ricocheted off of (UTSA pitcher) Derek Craft to get that thing going, and then they dump that single into right center,” Marshall said. “It’s what I told our guys, it was just the way it was flowing.
“It was going to boil down to a big hit, somebody in scoring position and somebody delivering the big blow, the knockout.”
Charlotte 31-20, 17-11
UTSA 29-22, 14-13
The Charlotte pitching trio of Josh Maciejewski, Chase Gooding and Patten limited UTSA to just three hits — all of them singles.
UTSA pushed runners to second base in the first and sixth innings and put another one at third base in the seventh.
But each opportunity fizzled, leaving them to think about their second shutout loss in their last four games.
“You never know at what part of the game you can deliver that blow,” Marshall said. “We had a chance in the first inning. We really didn’t give ourselves a lot more chances (afterward).
“There were only a few other chances where we got a runner to second or third. Their starter (Maciejewski) has great numbers, Then the guy they brought out of the pen even threw better than the starter.”
Not everything went wrong for the Roadrunners.
UTSA pitched and played defense extremely well. The Roadrunners very nearly matched Charlotte in stringing all zeroes across the scoreboard.
But in the ninth, the 49ers had a few bounces go their way to tack on the only two runs they would need.
With one out, Craft got a hand on a chopper hit by Drew Ober, only to have it carom past shortstop Joshua Lamb for a base hit.
Ober promptly took advantage of the break, speeding from first to third on a single by Dominick Cammarata.
With runners at first and third and still one out, Craft worked a 1-2 count to Todd Elwood.
At that point, Marshall elected to go to the bullpen to bring in lefty Jordan Rodriguez to finish off Elwood, a left-handed hitter.
After working the count to 3-2, Elwood chopped a ball that bounced just high enough to get over Rodriguez and just slow enough to allow Ober to score from third.
Even though Elwood was thrown out at first, pinch runner Jake Whitcomb took second, leaving another runner in scoring position.
Tommy Bullock answered with an RBI single to center off reliever Andre Shewcraft, making it 2-0.
Freshman Jhivvan Jackson scored 30 points Saturday as the UTSA Roadrunners turned back the Charlotte 49ers, 97-89, in overtime.
In the game played at Charlotte, North Carolina, UTSA’s all-time freshman scoring leader reached the 30-point mark for the third time this season.
He made 11 of 22 shots from the field and, for good measure, he also nailed 4 of 12 from three-point distance.
Freshman Keaton Wallace scored 14 of his 17 points in the first half for the Roadrunners, who barely escaped against the last-place team in Conference USA.
Charlotte has lost 12 straight. UTSA, meanwhile, bounced back from Thursday night’s 100-62 loss at Old Dominion.
The Roadrunners are 6-2 in their last eight.
With the game on the line, Jackson nailed two straight jumpers in the final 25 seconds of regulation.
After Jackson hit the first one, guard Andrien White completed a three-point play to give Charlotte an 84-82 lead.
With the clock ticking under 10 seconds, UTSA advanced the ball and found Jackson, who hit the tying shot with 2.9 ticks left.
Jon Davis missed the potential game winner off the front of the rim at the regulation buzzer.
Jackson scored seven points in the extra period to give him 30 for the game and 518 for the season.
Devin Brown held the UTSA freshman record of 483 points until Jackson surpassed it Thursday night at Old Dominion.
In the overtime against Charlotte, he showed that he can also do more than score.
The former three-time Puerto Rican junior national team member created opportunities for teammates.
Two of Jackson’s late drives to the bucket led directly to four points, on a layup and two free throws, by Byron Frohnen.
UTSA 15-12, 8-6
Charlotte 5-20, 1-13
“Exactly what I expected. I thought they’d be really, really good and that it’d be a fight the whole way, and it was. They have good players. They’re just a little snake-bitten. They can’t quite finish ’em right now. They have a couple of terrific guards. It was tough.” — UTSA coach Steve Henson.
Junior guard Andrien White produced 25 points, six rebounds and four assists. Backcourt mate Jon Davis had 18 points and eight assists.
Southern Miss at UTSA, 7 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 22
Louisiana Tech at UTSA, 7 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 24