ELON, N.C. — Some quality pitching and timely hitting lifted the Elon Phoenix baseball squad to a 5-1 victory over the visiting Western Carolina Catamounts in a Southern Conference baseball tilt from Latham Park on Friday night.
Said Elon head coach Mike Kennedy, “(Lucas) Bakker competed his tail off and made some tough pitches in some tight spots. We made some big pitches at the right time and got some big hits at the right time. Casey (Jones) had the double in the eighth and then (Sebastian) Gomez had a big hit to extend the lead.”
After falling behind 1-0 in the top of the fourth inning, Elon (14-7, 3-1 SoCon) scored three runs on three hits in the last of the fifth to take a lead that it would never surrender. With one out, Chris Hall lined a 2-1 pitch into right-center for a single. He then headed to third when Chris King lined a single to right. After a walk loaded the bases, Western’s Jeremy Null uncorked his first wild pitch of the year to allow the tying run to score. A ground out by Quinn Bower plated King as the Phoenix grabbed a 2-1 lead. The final marker scored on Ryan Cooper’s infield single.
Elon hung on to its two-run cushion until the last of the eighth when the maroon and gold tacked on two insurance runs. Casey Jones ripped the first pitch he saw off the wall in left for a one-out double and scored on Sebastian Gomez’s single up the middle. On the throw to the plate, Gomez raced to second. He then moved to third on a wild pitch and scored on a passed ball.
The Catamounts (11-9, 0-1) threatened in the third and had runners on the corners with two outs when a ball got away from the Elon catcher, but the man from third got hung up between the bags and was tagged out at home. In the fifth, WCU had a runner on third with two down when another ball got away at the plate. This time, the runner was tagged out after a flip to the Phoenix pitcher covering home.
Lucas Bakker continued his impressive run as the righty improved to 4-1 on the year. Bakker did not allow an earned run in 7.2 innings, running his streak to 25.2 innings without an earned run surrendered. He did not walk a hitter, struck out five and scattered five hits. Ryan Pennell retired the final four hitters, including striking out the side in the ninth, to earn his fifth save of the season.
The loss went to Null who fell to 2-1. He was charged with three runs on four hits in seven innings. Null walked four and struck out five.
Jones (2-for-4) ran his hitting streak to seven games, matching his career-long, while Gomez (1-for-3) extended his hitting streak to nine games.
Elon and Western Carolina will play game two of this three-game series at 4 p.m. on Saturday from Elon’s Latham Park.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E Western Carolina 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 5 0 Elon 0 0 0 0 3 0 0 2 X 5 6 2
Win – Bakker (4-1)
Loss – Null (2-1)
Save – Pennell (5).
Umpires – HP: Gary Pollard 1B: David Pritchett 3B: Mac Stokes
Start: 6:00 pm Time: 2:42 Attendance: 201
Weather: Sunny, 65 deg., Winds: SSW 10
Kacer faced 1 batter in the 8th.