Charlotte baseball wins first C-USA title in program history

The Charlotte 49ers baseball team captures its first ever Conference USA tournament title with...
The Charlotte 49ers baseball team captures its first ever Conference USA tournament title with a 5-2 win over regular-season champion Dallas Baptist on Sunday May 28.(Charlotte 49ers Athletics)
Published: May. 28, 2023 at 9:23 PM EDT
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HOUSTON -- For the first time in program history, the Charlotte 49ers baseball team is Conference USA Tournament Champions after the 49ers defeated regular-season champion Dallas Baptist 5-2 in the title game Sunday afternoon (May 28).

Charlotte (34-26, 17-12 C-USA) leaves Conference USA with its first conference tournament title and has punched its ticket to an NCAA Regional for the seventh time in program history and second time in the last three years under head coach Robert Woodard.

After losing the first game of the tournament, CLT fought back out of the loser’s bracket to become just the third team in league history to win the tournament after dropping their first contest and playing in elimination games the rest of the way. The most recent team to do that was 19 years ago when TCU beat Southern Miss in the championship game after losing its first game.

Charlotte placed four players on the C-USA All-Tournament Team, infielders Jack Dragum and Brandon Stahlman, outfielder Cam Fisher, and pitcher Paxton Thompson. It’s the most All-Tournament selections the Niners have had since having four in the Atlantic 10 Tournament in 2011 and matches the program’s C-USA Tournament record from 1997.

Fisher was named the tournament’s Russell D. Anderson Most Valuable Player after setting multiple tournament records over the week. He hit six home runs, drove in 13 runs, and took 33 total bases over the six games, all tournament records. He hit .619 over the week and slugged 1.571, which is the best slugging percentage any player has ever had in the tournament.

He also tied a handful of tournament records, matching teammate Nate Furman’s on base percentage of .733 last season, walks drawn with eight, and runs scored with 11.

The Niners trailed early in the game, 2-0, but battled back to score the final five runs of the game, taking advantage of three Dallas Baptist (45-14, 25-5 C-USA) errors and six wild pitches. Charlotte outhit DBU 9-8 and Jake Cunningham was the only Niner to record multiple hits with a pair of singles in the game.

Stahlman was the only CLT player with an extra-base knock as he got the Green and White on the board in the fourth with a solo homer. Also picking up hits in the game were Dragum, Fisher, Will Butcher, Austin Knight, and Spencer Nolan.

Wyatt Hudepohl started the game on short rest and spun another gem, recording his 11th quality start of the season. He threw the first six innings and gave up the two runs on five hits with a pair of walks and five strikeouts. Hudepohl now has 118 punchouts this season to sit in fourth place on Charlotte’s single-season strikeouts list.

Hudepohl turned the rock over to Andrew Spolyar for an inning before Collin Kramer pitched the final two frames to record his first save of the season. Kramer didn’t allow a single baserunner and picked up one strikeout, only needing 22 pitches to get the final six outs.


Charlotte had a runner on third base in each of the first two innings but couldn’t get a run across in either frame. Dallas Baptist got the scoring started on the second pitch of the home half of the first, hitting a solo home run over the wall in right.

The Patriots added to their lead in the third, bringing one around with the bases loaded. A walk and a pair of singles put the ducks on the pond with one out and the Niners tried to turn two on a grounder but couldn’t complete the relay, allowing the run to score from third.

That was the final run of the game for DBU and Charlotte’s bats got to work in the next frame. Stahlman started the inning off with a leadoff homer to right and then back-to-back singles put a pair on. A wild pitch moved both into scoring position and one came home when Knight grounded one to the pitcher. The pitcher tried to come with it to get Butcher but his shovel to the plate was off-target and the catcher’s try to get Knight at first was unsuccessful.

Hopson moved up to third on the fielder’s choice and a single to right from Nolan brought him home to put the Green and White in front. The Niners loaded the bases later in the frame with only one out but a ground ball started a double play that ended the inning.

Charlotte held on to its one-run lead until the sixth when it added some insurance. Nolan drew a one-out, four-pitch walk and Jackson was hit by a pitch in a two-strike count to get a pair on. A fly ball to center field put the second out on the board and Fisher shot one the other way for a single that scored Nolan from second and put Jackson on third.

The DBU pitcher then lost all control of the strike zone and threw back-to-back wild pitches in the turf. Jackson came home on the first errant offering and Fisher made it up to third on the second one but the Niners left him there.

Dallas Baptist started to threaten late in the game, getting a pair on with one out in the bottom half of the sixth. Hudepohl was able to get the next batter to pop up on the first pitch for the second shot and Nolan made a fantastic diving pick on a hot shot to first to end the frame, much to the delight of his starting pitcher.

DBU had a pair on again in the seventh after finding the outfield turf in back-to-back at bats with one out. The Patriots put on a double steal hit-and-run but the batter sent a fly ball to center. DBU’s runner on first had no idea where the ball was and was standing still on second base when Cunningham caught the ball. He finally realized he needed to head back to first but it was too late as Cunningham was able to fire the ball to Nolan at first for the double play.

Kramer didn’t have any issues in the eighth and got a couple of fly outs sandwiched around a strikeout. He returned for the ninth and got the first two batters to fly out as well, with the second batter taking him into a three-ball count. The final batter of the game got to a 3-1 count as well before sending one out to right where, fittingly, Fisher was there to end Charlotte’s historic run in the C-USA Tournament with the title.


Charlotte has now secured Conference USA’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament for the first time. The Niners will find out their fate during the NCAA Baseball Selection Show at noon on Monday (May 29) on ESPN2.