Offense hasn’t been much of a problem as of late for the Elon University baseball team. The Phoenix is hitting .272 as a team and averaging nearly six runs per game.
But the pitching staff is still finding itself because of some recent changes in the starting rotation.
Elon used a weekend rotation of junior Lucas Bakker on Friday, sophomore Michael Elefante on Saturday and junior Jake Stalzer on Sunday. But both Elefante and Stalzer were replaced in past weekends.
Stalzer didn’t pitch in a weekend series against Wofford College April 11-13 but came back the next weekend and tossed eight innings against Appalachian State University April 20 to pick up the win.
On April 26 against the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, freshman Matt Harris started in place of Elefante.
“It’s not so much a shake-up, but just where we are in the league right now,” Elon head coach Mike Kennedy said. “We’re trying to get ready for the [Southern Conference] Tournament. We have to get some guys some innings.”
It ended up being a reversal of roles, as Harris lasted just two innings in which he allowed six runs on nine hits. Elefante then came on in relief of Harris in the third and lasted five innings.
LAST TIME OUT: Elon swept in SoCon for first time since 2010
Harris has made 14 appearances this year, including four starts. Prior to the game against UNCG, he hadn’t started a game since March 10.
“We have to stretch him out,” Kennedy said. “That’s the biggest reason we’re doing that. If he’s going to pitch in the conference tournament and be a factor, we can’t count on him in May to pitch seven or eight innings when he’s thrown three at the max.”
Elon has started a number of different players during its midweek games as well. Sophomore Tyler Manez seemed to be Elon’s go-to midweek starter early in the year, but is 1-3 and has lasted more than five innings just once in his five starts.
Freshmen Graham Edwards, Dimitri Lettas and Mike Krill all performed well out of the bullpen to start the year, leading Kennedy to throw them into the starter’s role. Edwards and Krill both failed to reach the third inning in their starts, allowing a combined eight runs on nine hits in 3.2 innings of work.
Lettas threw 6.1 scoreless innings of relief against Wake Forest University March 26, prompting Kennedy to start him the following week against North Carolina A&T State University. He continued to excel, going six innings and allowing just two hits. His hot streak ended April 13 when he was taken out after 2.1 innings in a start at Wofford.
With two losses at UNCG and some discouraging signs on the mound hanging over his head, Kennedy said he’ll do whatever it takes to set his team up for a good seed in next month’s SoCon Tournament.
“It puts you in a tough spot in the conference,” Kennedy said. “We want to finish as high as we can. We’re going to go out there and throw our best guys.”
- Elon will host Davidson College for three games this weekend. The Wildcats come in as the No. 1 team in the SoCon with a 15-4 record in the league. The teams will meet at 6:30 p.m. Friday, 3 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday.