CAMDEN, N.J. – Top-seeded Charlotte (42-14) combined for seven runs over the third and fourth innings for a 9-4 victory against No. 5 Richmond (29-27-2) to claim its third Atlantic 10 Conference title in five years. With the win, the 49ers improve to 42-14 on the season and claim the A-10’s automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament.
“This is the goal every year,” Charlotte head coach Loren Hibbs explained. “We want to get the number-one seed and go out there and play. I am really proud of our guys and I am happy for our seniors. We get to play another week and hopefully longer than that.
“We have been in the A-10 for six years and we have played in the championship in four of those years. We have to keep it going. Everyone in the league is getting better. We have to keep working and keep getting better.”
Charlotte right-hander Joe Yermal (6-2) earned the win after going six innings with five strikeouts and one walk, while Corey Shaylor paced the 49ers at the plate, going 3-for-4 with three runs scored and an RBI.
“We came together as a team today,” said Shaylor, who was named the Championship’s Most Outstanding Performer. “Our hitting stepped up. I was coming out with a vengeance. I made the last out last year here with the bases loaded; I owed it to my team to step up today.”
Charlotte left fielder Shane Brown started the 49er scoring spree in the top of the third, singling up the middle to score catcher Miguel Rodriguez and Shaylor. A-10 Student-Athlete of the Year Cory Tilton followed with an RBI single up the middle of his own, driving in Brown.
Charlotte continued to tack on runs in the fourth. Shaylor ripped an RBI single to right field to score third baseman Shane Basen. A costly Richmond miscue on the play allowed 49ers designated hitter Tony Montalbano and first baseman Corbin Shive to cross the plate and extend Charlotte’s advantage to 6-1. Rodriguez closed out the frame with a sacrifice fly to center to score Shaylor.
Charlotte posted a pair of insurance runs in the sixth and ninth innings, as Rodriguez recorded his second RBI of the day off a single up the middle, before Basen scored Brown on a sacrifice fly to center.
Richmond got on the board in the opening frame when Matt Zink scored on an RBI groundout by third baseman Jacob Mayers and rallied for three runs off four hits in the bottom of the sixth, but the 49ers ultimately proved to be too much for the Spiders. Andrew Brockett (3-5) was charged with the loss, giving up three walks and five earned runs.