In the first game at Atrium Health Ballpark, the $52 million home of the MiLB-based Kannapolis Cannon Ballers, Charlotte took early control in a 15-5 victory against App State on Tuesday night.
The Mountaineers (10-9) had a four-game winning streak snapped, but they are 3-0 in Sun Belt play heading into their weekend conference series at Georgia Southern. Charlotte improved to 11-8 on the season by winning the first meeting between the 49ers and Mountaineers since 2006.
The new 5,000-seat ballpark in downtown Kannapolis opened last May, in the same year that no minor league baseball was played. Tuesday’s game originally was scheduled to be contested at Charlotte, but the change to a bigger venue created an opportunity for a limited number of fans to purchase tickets before they quickly sold out last week — the reduced-capacity sellout drew a crowd of 1,648.
Luke Drumheller reached base four times in a 1-for-2 night that included two walks and one hit by pitch, while App State also got one hit apiece from Peyton Idol, Phillip Cole, Trent Lewis and Robbie Young.
After falling behind, App State showed fight with a five-run fifth inning that featured one-out RBI doubles from Idol (to score Bailey Welch) and Cole. Drumheller scored on Kendall McGowan’s RBI groundout before Hayden Cross and Andrew Terrell drew bases-loaded walks.
Shane Roberts pitched two scoreless innings of relief to lead the bullpen effort on a staff day, and Cam Roberts retired the first batter he faced to get out of a bases-loaded jam with two out in the sixth before he pitched a scoreless seventh.
The night started promisingly enough, as Idol and Drumheller drew a pair of 3-2 walks to open the game, but Charlotte starter Hale Sims escaped that jam.
App State starter Ben Peterson struck out two batters in a 1-2-3 first, and Charlotte had two runners on with two out in the second when a fly ball was hit down the line, near a side wall that’s only a few feet beyond the chalk. An attempt at a sliding catch to avoid a collision with the wall was unsuccessful, allowing two runs to score on a triple, and another two-out run came home for a 3-0 lead.
The 49ers put up nine runs on six hits and three errors in the third inning to take control.