By Jerry Briggs
For The JB Replay
Austin Knight hit two home runs, and Cam Fisher and Brandon Stahlman added one apiece as the Charlotte 49ers erased a seven-run deficit in their home park, downing the 24th-ranked UTSA Roadrunners 12-10 Thursday night in Conference USA baseball.
Charlotte outscored UTSA 12-5 after a 2 hour and 48-minute weather delay. With the victory, the 49ers salvaged a split of a doubleheader. The Roadrunners won the opener, 5-3. Game 3 of the series is scheduled for Friday at 5 p.m.
It’s been a wild week for UTSA. The Roadrunners learned on Monday that they had been ranked in the top 25 in the nation for the first time in school history. They were listed at No. 24 in the poll by Baseball America magazine.
By Tuesday, they were on the road, playing a non-conference game on the campus of the University of the Incarnate Word. Against UIW, they bolted to a 6-1 lead and held a 6-4 advantage going into the ninth inning, only to see the Cardinals rally for a 9-6 victory on a Rey Mendoza three-run, walk-off homer.
By Thursday, they were in Charlotte, playing two against the 49ers because of forecasted rain in the area. In the first game, the Roadrunners claimed a victory behind the hitting and baserunning of Antonio Valdez and the pitching of Luke Malone and Simon Miller.
In the second game, the Roadrunners started fast, moving out to a 5-0 lead before a weather delay forced the teams off the field. Once play resumed, the Roadrunners tacked on two more and looked to be in control, 7-0.
From there, the UTSA pitching started to falter and the Charlotte bats came alive. The 49ers created big-time momentum with a six-run fourth inning, capped by back-to-back home runs from Stahlman and Knight.
Right after Stahlman ripped a three-run shot, Knight unloaded with a solo shot, trimming UTSA’s lead to 7-6. After the Roadrunners scored once in the top of the fifth on Taylor Smith’s solo home run, the 49ers retaliated with two runs of their own in the bottom half, tying the game at 8-8.
Knight vaulted the 49ers into the lead in the sixth inning, blasting another solo homer to make it 9-8. Though the Roadrunners would come back to tie with a run in the seventh, their pitching just would not hold. The 49ers exploded with three runs in the eighth to make it 12-9.
Isaiah Walker lashed an RBI double in the ninth for the Roadrunners. But that was it, as Charlotte reliever Paxton Thompson retired two in a row to end it.
Thompson (3-1) was the winning pitcher, working 4 and 2/3 innings, giving up two runs, only one of them earned, while yielding three hits. Pitching in relief, UTSA’s Ulises Quiroga (4-1) was saddled with the loss. Charlotte touched him for three runs on four hits in two innings.
UTSA 24-8, 9-2
Charlotte 15-15, 6-5
UTSA at Charlotte, Friday, 5 p.m.