ELON, N.C. — In a game that saw four ties four ties and three lead changes, the Western Carolina Catamounts delivered the final strike as they defeated the Elon Phoenix 6-5 in game two of a three game Southern Conference baseball series at Latham Park on Saturday afternoon.
“We wasted a lot of opportunities,” said Elon head coach Mike Kennedy. “I thought, early in the game, we had some opportunities to score some runs and do some things and we just didn’t do it. We have to have better at bats in those situations. We left a lot of opportunities out on the field today.”
Elon (14-8, 3-2 SoCon) was the first to strike, turning back-to-back walks in to two runs in the bottom of the first. The first run scored on a Casey Jones double and the second came in on Sebastian Gomez’s ground out.
In the top of the third, Western Carolina (12-9, 1-1 SoCon) knotted the game at two. Dale Urquhart, Jr. started things off with a solo homer to left before a passed ball later allowed the tying run.
The Phoenix went back in front, 3-2, in the last of the third when a Catamount error let Chris Hall score.
Western Carolina claimed its first lead in the fourth, scoring two more runs, including a solo homer off the bat of Taylor Sandefur. That lead did not last long, however, as the maroon and gold came right back with one in the bottom half when Hall was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to make it a 4-4 contest.
With the score still even at four in the last of the seventh, Elon loaded the bases thanks to an Andy Moore double, Chris King single and Quinn Bower being hit by a pitch. The Phoenix then reclaimed the advantage, 5-4, when Ryan Cooper drew a walk on the eighth pitch he saw from the Catamount pitcher.
The Elon edge was also short-lived as Jacob Hoyle belted a 2-1 pitch over the wall in right-center for a homer to start the eighth. With two outs in the ninth, Hoyle delivered again, driving a 1-1 pitch over the wall in right for what proved to be the game-winning run.
After the first two hitters in the bottom of the ninth were retired, the Phoenix tried to rally. Tucker Norton came through with a pinch-hit single to center ahead of a Cooper single through the left side of the infield. Unfortunately for Elon, the next hitter grounded to third to end the comeback attempt.
Jones extended his hitting streak to a career-best eight games.
Taking the loss for Elon was Brandon Kacer. Kacer (0-1) gave up one run on one hit – the first of either he has allowed this year.
The loss was the first for the Phoenix in 12 games when leading after seven innings this season.
Colton Davis (2-1) was the winning pitcher. He did not allow a run in 1.2 innings of work out of the Catamount bullpen. Tyler Powell allowed two hits, but no runs, to claim his second save of the year.
Western Carolina pitchers combined to issue 12 walks, but Elon was unable to cash in on most of those as the Phoenix stranded a season-high 16 runners.
The rubber match between these two squads will be played on Sunday at noon from Latham Park. The game was moved up from its scheduled 1:30 p.m. start due to the threat of rain.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E Western Carolina 0 0 2 2 0 0 0 1 1 6 8 2 Elon 2 0 1 1 0 0 1 0 0 5 7 0
Win – Davis (2-1)
Loss – Kacer (0-1)
Save – Powell (2).
Umpires – HP: David Pritchett 1B: Mac Stokes 3B: Gary Pollard
Start: 4:00 pm Time: 3:22 Attendance: 236
Weather: Ptly Cldy, 72 deg., Winds:WSW9
Sammons faced 1 batter in the 2nd.
Kacer faced 1 batter in the 9th.