Elon Phoenix Baseball to Host Preseason SoCon Favorite Western Carolina

ELON, N.C. — After earning two wins in its opening Southern Conference series of the year, the Elon baseball team will be back at Latham Park this weekend to battle preseason league favorite Western Carolina in a three-game set. Game times are set for 6 p.m. on Friday, 4 p.m. on Saturday and 1:30 p.m. on Sunday.

All three games will air live on WSOE 89.3 FM along with online through elonphoenix.com.

Promotions for this weekend include the Family Meal Deal, Free Stuff Friday and Sunday Funday. The Family Meal Deal will run all weekend and allows a family of four to purchase four game tickets, four hot dogs and four drinks for just $30 for each game attended.

Probable Starting Pitchers
Elon – RH Lucas Bakker (3-1, 1.27 ERA)
Western Carolina – RH Jeremy Null (2-0, 1.45 ERA)

Elon – LH Jake Stalzer (3-2, 1.65 ERA)
Western Carolina – LH Bryan Sammons (4-1, 6.35 ERA)

Elon – RH Michael Elefante (4-0, 1.63 ERA)
Western Carolina – RH Jordan Smith (2-2, 5.17 ERA)

Inside the Series
Prior to this weekend, Elon and Western Carolina have met 74 times on the baseball diamond. Elon leads the all-time series 47-27. The two first met in a 5-4 Elon victory in 1939 and have played every year since 2004. In 2011, the teams played the longest-ever game in the SoCon Tournament – a 20-inning affair won 10-7 by the Catamounts.

Countdown to 600: 590
Already Elon’s all-time winningest coach, skipper Mike Kennedy is closing in on career victory number 600. Kennedy currently has 590 wins to his credit, all in the maroon and gold.

SoCon Starts
In its 11 seasons in the Southern Conference, Elon has posted a 9-2 record in its league opener.

2004 – Elon 6, Appalachian St. 5 (12 Inn.; Elon, N.C.)
2005 – Elon 12, Wofford 2 (7 Inn.; Elon, N.C.)
2006 – Elon 13, Western Carolina 10 (Elon, N.C.)
2007 – Elon 24, Appalachian St. 2 (Boone, N.C.)
2008 – Elon 7, The Citadel 2 (Elon, N.C.)
2009 – Elon 8, Appalachian St. 6 (Boone, N.C.)
2010 – Elon 5, Furman 3 (Greenville, S.C.)
2011 – Elon 10, Appalachian St. 4 (Boone, N.C.)
2012 – Elon 1, Col. of Charleston 7 (Mt. Pleasant, S.C.)
2013 – Elon 4, Furman 10 (12 Inn.; Elon, N.C.)
2014 – Elon 1, Georgia Southern 0 (Elon, N.C.)

Bakk-to-Bakk Complete Games
Junior Lucas Bakker tossed a complete game, two-hit shutout of Georgia Southern in Elon’s SoCon opener. The complete game was the second straight for the righty from Australia. It marked the first time in the Phoenix’s tenure in the SoCon that a pitcher tossed back-to-back complete games. Bakker has not allowed an earned run in his last 18.1 innings pitched.

Bakker Earns Second League Honor
After tossing a complete game, two-hit shutout against Georgia Southern in the SoCon opener, Lucas Bakkerwas named the SoCon Pitcher of the Week for games between March 10-16. This was Bakker’s second straight SoCon Pitcher of the Week accolade and the fourth consecutive for a Phoenix hurler.

Bakker became the first Elon pitcher to throw back-to-back complete games since the Phoenix joined the SoCon for the 2004 campaign. The junior carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning and had faced the minimum through 6.2 frames. Against the Eagles, he walked three and struck out seven, including five of the last seven hitters of the game. Bakker threw just 100 pitches in the complete game and faced just three hitters over the minimum.

With the honor, Elon became just the second team, and the first since The Citadel in 1992, to win four straight SoCon Pitcher of the Week awards outright.

No. 500
With it’s 14-2 victory over Wagner on Feb. 21, the Phoenix program achieved a milestone. That win was the 500th for the program since moving to NCAA Division I play for the 2000 season. In that time, only three of the other 17 D-I programs in the state of North Carolina have more victories than the Phoenix – North Carolina, East Carolina and NC State.

We Are Family
The 2014 Elon roster sports two pairs of brothers. Junior outfielders Quinn Bower and Blaine Bower are twins from New Cumberland, Pa. The other set of brothers are junior outfielder/first baseman Sam Paone and freshman outfielder D.J. Paone who hail from Jupiter, Fla.

Elon or the Pros?
Elon’s 2014 roster sports two players who chose to don the maroon and gold and forgo a professional career.

Sophomore left-handed pitcher Tyler Manez was picked by the Houston Astros in the 32nd round, number 969 overall, in the 2012 MLB Draft while freshman infielder Nick Zammarelli was a 28th round selection, number 833 overall, of the Boston Red Sox in the 2013 draft.

Junior college transfer Jose Lazaro was also drafted out of high school, but opted to head to college. The right-handed pitcher was a 28th round selection, number 869 overall, by the New York Yankees in the 2011 MLB draft.

Closing it Out
Since 2007 Elon has been very good at closing out games. The Phoenix has gone a combined 226-17 (.930) when leading after seven innings and 237-15 (.940) when holding a lead following the eighth inning.

With its 34 wins in 2013, Elon has recorded 14 consecutive seasons with at least 30 wins. Elon has won 33, 30, 34, 34, 31, 32, 45, 32, 44, 41, 38, 36, 33 and 34 games in that span. In this time, the Phoenix has made six NCAA Division I Regional appearances (2002, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2013).

Home Sweet Home
Traditionally, Elon has played well at Latham Park. Under Mike Kennedy, Elon has posted a 325-140-1 (.698) record at its on-campus stadium.