The Charlotte 49ers have been overdue for a nice, weather-free weekend of baseball. They won’t completely get it when the ECU Pirates come to town, with rain threatening on Sunday and some schedule shuffling forced to take place.
Charlotte was supposed to play Rider this past week, but unplayable field conditions forced that one to be cancelled. This time around, though, Friday and Saturday look good, but forecasted rain on Sunday means Saturday’s contest turns into a double header. Here we go with our preview as the struggling Niners re-ignite their Conference USA rivalry with a team that has dominated them historically before the Pirates head for the
old Big East American Athletic Conference:
Charlotte 49ers (3-13-1, 0-6 C-USA) vs. ECU Pirates (10-11, 3-3 C-USA)
Friday, March 21, 6pm; Saturday, March 22, doubleheader starting at 2pm
Hayes Stadium, Charlotte, NC
All-time series: ECU leads, 18-4
Forecast: 66 and partly cloudy at first pitch on Friday, dropping to 61 around 8pm; mid-70s under partly cloudy skies on Saturday
Last time out
Charlotte was swept at Middle Tennessee last weekend to fall to 0-6 in C-USA play. They trailed 6-0 in game one before plating six runs in the top of the 8th to tie it on a two-run shot by Logan Sherer and a grand slam by T.J. Nichting (his first career homer), but the Blue Raiders scored the game-winning run in the bottom half of the frame to hold on for a 7-6 victory. They would go on to win games two and three 6-2 and 9-1, respectively.
The scoop on ECU
Traditionally one of the better programs in Conference USA history, the Pirates, picked to finish third, have struggled (by their standards) but have won two of their last three. They have played a tough schedule, though–including games against Virginia and VCU.
Who to watch for on ECU
Keep an eye on preseason player of the year and All-American two-way player Drew Reynolds. Right now he’s hitting .299 with just six RBI, but on the mound he’s a shutdown closer: 1-0, 1.35 ERA in seven appearances with three saves. Don’t forget about classmate Zach Houchins (.350, team-high 28 hits, .430 SLG%), who has struck out just five times all year. Junior Ian Townsend, a JUCO transfer, has proven to be a key pickup for the team (team-leading 17 RBI and three home runs). Ryan Williams (6-1, 0.96 ERA, 37.2 IP) has been nothing short of impressive out of the bullpen.
On the mound
Friday: Charlotte–Corey Roberts (0-2, 4.12); ECU–Jeff Hoffman (0-3, 4.56)
Saturday, Game 1: Charlotte–Ryan Butler (1-2, 3.38); ECU–Reid Love (1-1, 1.57)
Saturday, Game 2: Charlotte–Brock Hudgens (0-2, 3.58); ECU–TBA