This was one the Charlotte 49ers were determined not to let get away.
The 49ers have knocked off nationally-ranked opponents in recent seasons, but they have been on the road. Tuesday night, Charlotte let the home crowd in on the fun.
Senior catcher Zane Williams’ three RBI double with two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning propelled the 49ers to an 11-10 upset of 11th-ranked Clemson at Hayes Stadium, Charlotte’s first win over a Top 25 opponent since its new stadium opened in March 2007.
The win is Charlotte’s first over Clemson since February 2004. It’s also the 49ers’ first win over a ranked opponent at home since a 4-2 victory over then-No. 20 East Carolina on April 13, 2002.
“It was a great environment. No question, a regional-type environment,” Charlotte coach Loren Hibbs said of the overflow crowd of 1,832. “They’ve got great players and a lot of guys on their roster, we tried to recruit. We beat a tremendous team tonight.”
Clemson (13-2) had trailed most of the game, falling behind 5-0 in the bottom of the second. The Tigers took their first lead of the game on a three-run home run by John Hinson in the top of the eighth.
Charlotte loaded the bases in the bottom of the eighth on a single, a walk and a hit batter. With two outs, Williams connected on a 2-1 pitch straight down the third-base line to clear the bases.
Charlotte senior relliever Patrick Lawson closed out the top of the ninth for Charlotte, striking out the final batter while the Tigers had runners on first and second. Lawson (1-0) earned win while Tomas Cruz (1-2) took the loss for Clemson.
“We came into the dugout after they took the lead and our heads were down,” said Williams, who has had at least one hit and RBI in each of the last six games. Our coaches told us to get out there and make something happen. What a great game and crowd. I wish it was like that every night.”
The comeback was nothing new for the 49ers (8-4), who have trailed in all 12 games this season.
“We’ve done this all year so far,” Hibbs said. “Every single time we’ve had to come from behind to win.”
Charlotte returns to action at 6 p.m. Wednesday when the 49ers play at Western Carolina. The Catamounts beat Charlotte 5-3 on Feb. 23 in the teams’ previous meeting this season.