ELON, N.C. — Multiple times the Elon baseball team found itself in a multi-run hole and multiple times, the Phoenix clawed back within a run, but ultimately, the maroon and gold could not overcome numerous errors in a 9-7 loss to Western Carolina on Sunday afternoon.
Said Elon head coach Mike Kennedy, “It’s real simple, we didn’t play good. The challenge is, can we bounce back? We didn’t play well so we dropped two out of three.”
Elon (14-9, 3-3 Southern Conference) got down 2-0 after three innings before knotting the game up in the last of the fourth inning. Ryan Cooper led things off with a single to center and scored on Casey Jones’ triple to right-center. Jones would then come in on a ground out.
Western Carolina (13-9, 2-1) came right back with single runs in each of the next three innings to build a 5-2 advantage only to see the Phoenix trim the lead to 5-4 in the bottom of the seventh. With men on second and third with one out, Jones lifted a sacrifice fly to center. Elon’s fourth run scored on a Tyler McVicar pinch-hit double.
Once again, the Catamounts answered Elon’s charge. In the top of the eight, WCU struck for three runs. The inning began with a bunt single from Cody Jones. Reece Strong followed by reaching when the throw to first on a sacrifice bunt went down the right field line. On that error, Jones scored and Strong ended up on third. Aaron Attaway’s sacrifice fly then put the Cats up 7-4. After a single, Bradley Strong stole second and then scored when the throw down went into the outfield to make it an 8-4 contest.
The Phoenix also put together a response in the last of the eighth. After the first two hitters were retired, Wil Leathers drew a walk and moved to second on a Quinn Bower single. Cooper then unloaded the bases, and cut Elon’s deficit back to just one, by hitting a towering home run down the left field line. It was the first homer of the year for Cooper.
Western Carolina tacked on a ninth-inning insurance run to cap the scoring.
For Elon, Jones kept his hitting streak alive by going 3-for-4. His streak is now at a career-best nine games.
The loss was charged to Jacob Baker (0-2) who gave up two unearned runs on four hits in 3.1 innings of relief. Starter Michael Elefante did not come back after a three-hour and 13 minute rain delay. He went 2.1 innings and gave up two runs (one earned) on two hits. He also struck out four.
Elon used a total of eight pitchers. The group combined to allow just four earned runs on the day.
Picking up the win for Western Carolina was Jordan Smith (3-2). Smith gave up two runs on six hits in six innings. For the second day in a row, Tyler Powell earned a save. Sunday’s save was Powell’s third of the year.
Elon is slated to play a home-and-home set with Wake Forest this week. The Phoenix is scheduled to go to Winston-Salem, N.C., to face the Demon Deacons for a 6 p.m. game on Tuesday before playing host to the same squad on Wednesday at 6 p.m.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E Western Carolina 1 0 1 0 1 1 1 3 1 9 11 0 Elon 0 0 0 2 0 0 2 3 0 7 11 7
Win – Jo. Smith (3-2)
Loss – Baker (0-2)
Save – Powell (3).
Umpires – HP: Mac Stokes 1B: Gary Pollard 3B: David Pritchett
Start: 12:00 pm Time: 3:46 Attendance: 155
Weather: Cloudy, 51 deg., Winds: NNE 11
Rain delay of 3:13 in the top of the 3rd.
Lettas faced 1 batter in the 7th.
Danielson faced 1 batter in the 7th.