The Elon University baseball team closed out its opening weekend on Saturday, Feb. 14 with a doubleheader against the Penn State University Nittany Lions.
The Phoenix won both games to claim a series sweep and officially start the spring season undefeated at 3-0.
In its two games on Saturday, Elon scored a combined 18 runs; two runs more than it scored in Friday’s game against Penn State. The Phoenix pitching allowed less runs than it did on Friday, only allowing the Nittany Lions eight total runs.
“Offensively we did some really good things,” said head coach Mike Kennedy. “I thought we were great with two outs and I thought we extended innings very well.”
Senior pitcher Jake Stalzer took the mound for the Phoenix in the first game and played splendidly through six innings, giving up only two hits and two runs. Stalzer also had a career-high seven strikeouts.
Redshirt freshman, pitcher Robbie Welhaf, came in relief to earn the save for Elon in the seventh inning. Welhaf, coming off Tommy John surgery, wouldn’t give up any runs or hits in two innings of relief.
“It was a great pitching effort,” Welhaf said. “It felt good bouncing back after surgery, knowing that we have the fielders behind us and the hitters in the dugout to back us up, it’s a good feeling.”
Preseason All-American, first baseman Casey Jones, accumulated three RBI’s in both games but was walked four times, including three times in the second game.
In game number one, the Phoenix got off to another hot start by scoring two runs in the first inning of play. An RBI double by Casey Jones scored senior outfielder Quinn Bower to open things off as the team continued its offensive output for the remainder of the game.
In the eighth inning sophomore infielder Kory Shumate would hit an RBI single to right field, scoring senior infielder Andy Moore from third base. Following Shumate was Jones who would add an RBI of his own to score Shumate.
Elon would close out Penn State in the eighth and ninth innings to obtain a 7-2 win.
In the second game of the doubleheader, senior pitcher Lucas Bakker would take the mound for the Phoenix. In five innings pitched, Bakker would give up two runs off of seven hits.
Casey Jones, once again, started the scoring affairs for Elon as he accounted for an RBI in the first inning after a fielder’s choice scored Quinn Bower from third base. The Phoenix held Penn State scoreless up until the third inning when junior outfielder Greg Guers hit an RBI double to score junior outfielder James Coates from third base. Elon would respond quickly in the fourth inning when a double RBI from senior outfielder Ryan Cooper scored Andy Moore and Quinn Bower to give the Phoenix a 5-1 lead.
Sophomore pitcher Matt Harris would be brought into the game for relief duties at the end of the sixth inning.
Harris struggled in the seventh inning as he would give up four earned runs, paving the way for sophomore pitcher Nick Beaulac and junior pitcher Joe McGillicuddy with the latter closing out the game for the Phoenix.
Elon displayed its offensive showing in the sixth and eighth innings as it scored three runs highlighted by a two-run homer from senior catcher Chris King.
King capped off a productive series after leading the team in RBI’s with eight.
“It was great team baseball today,” King said. “We’re seeing the ball well, getting our feet down early and sticking with same approach we’ve had.”
The Phoenix closed out the game with a commanding 11-6 victory over Penn State, preserving the sweep and moving Elon to 3-0.
The team will return to Latham Park on Wednesday, Feb. 18 for a game against High Point University. First pitch is scheduled for 4 p.m.