ELON, N.C. – With just three weeks remaining in the regular season, every Colonial Athletic Association game is critical for the Elon University baseball team as the Phoenix looks to finish near the top of the league standings. This weekend, the maroon and gold will play its final road conference series of the year as the Phoenix visits the Delaware Blue Hens for a three-game set. Game one of the series is set for Friday, May 4, at 3 p.m. with games two and three scheduled for 1 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
Entering the weekend, Elon currently sits third in the CAA standings with a 9-6 league mark and is just 1.5 games back of College of Charleston for second place. Delaware sits in sixth place with a 7-8 CAA ledger.
Friday: Elon - So. RH Kyle Brnovich (5-2, 1.94) Delaware - Jr. RH Kyle Hinton (5-4, 2.91) Saturday: Elon - So. RH George Kirby (8-1, 2.19) Delaware - Fr. RH Billy Sullivan IV (4-2, 3.58) Sunday: Elon - Jr. RH Ryan Conroy (3-3, 2.50) Delaware - Fr. RH Chris Ludman (1-2, 3.71)
Elon and Delaware have met just 15 times prior to this weekend’s series. The Blue Hens hold a slim 8-7 advantage in the series that began in 1910 with a 10-2 Elon win. Since the Phoenix joined the CAA for the 2015 season, the two programs have met 11 times with Elon claiming four victories. Last year, Delaware picked up two wins at Latham Park.
The Blue Hens enter the weekend hitting .246 as a team. In 44 games, Delaware has scored 192 runs (4.4 per game), has 65 doubles, 15 triples and 21 home runs. Kyle Baker leads the team with a .325 average and 31 RBI, while Kevin Mohollen’s 37 runs scored pace the squad. Nick Patten has a team-best six homers and 13 doubles.
On the mound, Delaware sports a 4.06 ERA and has allowed 227 runs (5.2 per game). The staff has recorded 348 strikeouts and issued 156 walks over 387.2 innings of work while holding opponents to a .258 batting average. Saturday starter Billy Sullivan IV leads the team with 68 strikeouts, while Friday starter Kyle Hinton has fanned 63 hitters.
HEAD COACH MIKE KENNEDY
Now in his 22nd season as the head coach at his alma mater, Mike Kennedy (’91) is the winningest coach in program history. He has compiled a career record of 705-542-3 and has led his program to five regular season titles, three conference tournament championships and seven NCAA postseason appearances. Kennedy earned his 700th career win on April 18 as Elon defeated North Carolina A&T by a 5-4 score.
COACHES WINNING AT ALMA MATER
Elon skipper Mike Kennedy recently earned his 700th career win, all of which have come at his alma mater. The 1991 grad is in select company for coaches who have racked up victories at their alma maters.
Active Head Coaches W/500+ Wins at Alma Mater (thru May 2)
Mike Martin, Florida State 1,975
John Anderson, Minnesota 1,273
Bill Brown, George Mason 1,016
Gary Gilmore, Coastal Carolina 915
Mark Scalf, UNCW 896
Mike Fox, North Carolina 878
Mike Kennedy, Elon 705
Dave Van Horn, Arkansas 627
Dick Cooke, Davidson 585
Jim Sherman, Delaware 532
Todd Asalon, Northern Kentucky 530
Jim Penders, UConn 513
Craig Gibson, Mercer 501
BRNOVICH, OGREN ON NATIONAL WATCH LISTS
Sophomore pitcher Kyle Brnovich has been selected to the 2018 USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award midseason watch list. The award is presented annually to the top amateur baseball player in the country. Presented in partnership with the Rod Dedeaux Foundation, the 41st Golden Spikes Award will be presented on June 28 in Los Angeles.
The midseason watch list features 40 of the nation’s top amateur players from the college ranks. The Golden Spikes Award Advisory Board will continue to maintain a rolling list of athletes, allowing players to play themselves into consideration for the award before announcing the semifinalists on May 21.
Brnovich is also on the watch list for the College Baseball Foundation’s Pitcher of the Year Award. The award highlights 78 of the top arms in the country that includes both perennial powers and up-and-coming teams. The award, sponsored by Diamond, will be presented later this summer by the College Baseball Foundation.
Junior infielder Ryne Ogren was named to the watch list for the Brooks Wallace Award, which is sponsored by Mizuno and honors the nation’s top shortstop and will be presented this summer by the College Baseball Foundation. There are 53 players on the list.
RACKING UP THE K’S
Through 45 games this season, the Elon pitching staff has put up some impressive strikeout totals. Three pitchers have eclipsed the 10-K mark in individual outings as sophomore George Kirby (11 Ks on opening day,11 at Georgia Southern, 10 vs. Appalachian State and 13 vs. Hofstra), Robbie Welhaf (12 in a relief outing against Radford) and Kyle Brnovich (11 vs. Marshall, 12 vs. Appalachian State, 13 vs. Rider, 14 vs. Charleston, 10 at Northeastern, 12 vs. Hofstra and 14 vs. Hartford) have all accomplished the feat.
As a staff on the year, the Phoenix has recorded 465 strikeouts on the year, an average of 10.3 per game. Last year, Elon set a new program record with 491. The maroon and gold is on pace to notch 578 strikeouts this season.
Elon junior shortstop Ryne Ogren has been a mainstay in the Phoenix lineup since his arrival on campus. The Devon, Pa., native has now started 134 consecutive games dating back to his freshman campaign. Ogren has started all 45 games this year, started all 56 games a year ago and started the final 33 contests in 2016. The last time Ogren did not appear in Elon’s starting lineup was March 22, 2016 against High Point.
Elon’s first seven games of the season were decided by a combined eight runs. The Phoenix played four one-run games in its first five outings. The last time that Elon had four one-run decisions in its first five games of the season was 1934. That year, the team opened with four consecutive one-run contests.
On the year, Elon has played in 16 one-run games, going 8-8, and an additional eight two-run contests.
PROGRAM’S SINGLE-SEASON STRIKEOUT RECORD FALLS
With three strikeouts at UNCW, sophomore Kyle Brnovich set a new Elon single-season record for K’s with 114. He surpassed the mark of 113 set by Ronnie Johnson in the 1977 campaign.
Before Brnovich set the new mark, the top two spots were both established over 40 years ago. The number two position had been held by Bunn Hearn with 108 in 1910.
WINNING IN WILMINGTON
With its 6-2 win in Wilmington on April 28, Elon snapped a six straight defeats at UNCW. The last Phoenix victory in the Port City came in a 9-2 decision on May 10, 2010. Including two games in last year’s CAA Tournament, Elon had lost eight consecutive games at Brooks Field.
DEVANNEY CLAIMS CONFERENCE ACCOLADE
After helping Elon to a series win at UNCW over the weekend, sophomore infielder Cam Devanney has been selected as the CAA co-Player of the Week as announced by the league office on Monday, April 30. This is the first weekly league honor of Devanney’s career.
Devanney, who hails from Amherst, N.H., batted .727 (8-for-11) with a triple and two runs scored against UNCW. He had multiple hits in all three games, including a 3-for-3 effort with two walks in Saturday’s 6-2 win and a 3-for-4 outing on Friday.
The Phoenix will return to Latham Park for its next four games following the weekend at Delaware. On Tuesday, May 8, Elon will host High Point in a game that was rescheduled due to rain. First pitch is set for 6 p.m.