ELON, N.C. — For the second week in a row, Elon righty Lucas Bakker befuddled an opposing lineup. On Friday night at Latham Park in the Southern Conference opener for the maroon and gold, Bakker tossed a complete game shutout as the Phoenix handed Georgia Southern a 1-0 setback in the opener of a three-game series.
Bakker (3-1) allowed just two hits to a team that came into the weekend leading the nation with a .345 batting average. He struck out seven hitters, including five of the last seven hitters of the game. Bakker set down the first 12 hitters he faced before issuing a leadoff walk in the fifth, but that man was erased on a double play. He had faced the minimum through 6.2 innings before Georgia Southern (15-3) recorded their first hit – a bloop single to left from Chase Griffin. The Eagles got their second hit in the eighth, but Bakker picked the runner off and faced just six hitters over the final two innings. He needed just 100 pitches for the complete game and faced just three over the minimum.
Said Bakker, “My fastball command is pretty good right now. As the game progressed on, my slider was getting better and better. I was throwing mainly fastballs. I was going in and out and hitting spots and that’s what happens when you make good pitches, you get outs.”
Both starters threw up zeros until the last of the sixth when the Phoenix finally broke through. With two outs,Casey Jones lined a single to left-center and then stole second. Sebastian Gomez drove home the game’s only run when he lined a 1-2 pitch into center for a single.
Jones recorded two of Elon’s four hits on the night.
“Our guy (Bakker) was about as good as I’ve seen in 18 years,” said Elon skipper Mike Kennedy. “That was a pretty dominant performance. That was pretty special. Then (Sebastian) Gomez had a big hit. A lot of good things happened for us. It was just a really well-played college baseball game.”
The loss went to Sam Howard (3-2). Howard gave up one run on four hits in seven innings. He struck out eight.
The Phoenix pitching staff has now matched the 2013 staff’s total of complete games with three. The two hits allowed by Elon were the fewest given up by the maroon and gold since surrendering just two hits to Akron on Feb. 17, 2012.
Elon and Georgia Southern will wrap up the three-game set from Latham Park on Saturday. Due to the forecast of rain on Sunday, the two squads will play a doubleheader starting at 2 p.m. on Saturday.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E Georgia Southern 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 Elon 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 X 1 4 0
Win – Bakker (3-1)
Loss – Howard, S (3-2)
Save – None.
Umpires – HP: Napoleon Spencer 1B: Tom Haight 3B: David Pritchett
Start: 6:00 pm Time: 2:03 Attendance: 257
Weather: 57 deg., Ptly Cldy,Winds:SSW12