After a three hour, 17 minute rain delay, the Elon University baseball team could not muster enough in the rubber match of a three game series with Southern Conference foe Western Carolina University, falling 9-7 to the Catamounts March 23 at Latham Park.
With one out in the top of the third and Western Carolina leading 2-0, a rain delay was put into action that threw off both teams. The start of the game was moved up to hopefully avoid such a problem.
"We just tried to relax and stay loose, but it's hard," Elon center fielder Ryan Cooper said. "They were on the bus — just as bad as we were. We just had to come out and play."
Prior to the delay, the Catamounts took a 2-0 lead with one run apiece in the first and third innings. In the first, Bradley Strong doubled to center with one out and scored on a sacrifice fly by Adam Martin. In the third, Strong scored on a single by Jacob Hoyle.
Elon came back to tie it with two runs in the fourth. Cooper singled to start the inning and scored on a triple by junior Casey Jones. Chris Hall brought home Jones on a groundout to the shortstop.
Western Carolina then scored three consecutive runs, one each in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings. Seven errors by the Phoenix contributed to the Catamounts offensive efforts.
"It's real simple: we didn't play good," Elon head coach Mike Kennedy said. "We're real bad, but at the same time, if we play decent, we've got a chance to win three games this weekend. We didn't play well, so we dropped two of three. We've got to play better."
Elon answered with two runs in the seventh off a sacrifice fly from Jones and a pinch-hit RBI double by Tyler McVicar. Western Carolina then added three runs in the top half of the eighth, which Cooper responded to by bolting a three-run home run over the fence in left to cut the deficit to one.
"I wanted to square a ball up," Cooper said. "I haven't really done that the last couple games. I got to a 3-2 count, [the pitcher] threw fastball up and I put it over the fence."
That would not be enough, though, as the Catamounts added one more in the ninth on a single up the middle by Aaron Attaway.
Western Carolina takes the final two games of the series after losing the first one. Starter Jordan Smith earns the win after six innings in which he allowed two runs on six hits with six strikeouts.
For Elon, starter Michael Elefante was limited to 2 1/3 innings due to the rain delay. Jacob Baker takes the loss after 3 1/3 innings of work in which he allowed two runs (zero earned) on four hits.
Elon falls to 14-9 on the season, 3-3 in the SoCon. The Phoenix will look to bounce back with a midweek home-and-home with Wake Forest University. Elon travels to Winston-Salem at 6 p.m. Tuesday while the Demon Deacons visit Latham Park at 6 p.m. Wednesday.