The Elon University Phoenix baseball team defeated the University of North Carolina at Greensboro Spartans 7-2 on a chilly Wednesday afternoon at Latham Park.
Starting at the mound for the Phoenix was sophomore RHP Matt Harris who pitched six innings, giving up only two runs while matching his career-high in strikeouts with eight.
“Me and coach [Kennedy] were pretty much on the same page with the pitch count all game long,” Harris said. “My teammates picked me up and my fast ball felt good.”
For the first time this season, Elon failed to score any runs in the first inning of play as UNCG got out to an early 2-0 lead after a two-run homer by right fielder Tyler Long.
The Phoenix immediately responded in the next inning when an error from UNCG lead to a double by sophomore utility player Nick Zammarelli, scoring junior utility player Joey Tomko from second base. An ensuing sacrifice fly by catcher Austin Leeney would score Zammarelli from third base making it a 2-2 game.
The Elon bats erupted in the third inning when senior first baseman Casey Jones batted in two runs with a single, scoring senior outfielder Quinn Bower and sophomore infielder Kory Shumate from second and third base. Zammarelli would earn an RBI off a groundout to score Jones from third to give the Phoenix a 5-2 lead.
“In the second and third inning we were really swinging the bats,” Zammarelli said. “We were seeing the ball really well. Our strategy [against a lefty] was to sit back, see the off-speed pitch and make really good contact with the ball.”
Two batters later, designated hitter Chris King teed off a single to right center field that led to senior outfielder Ryan Cooper being put in scoring position — eventually making his way to home plate to make the score 6-2 in Elon’s favor.
After a UNCG pitching change, Austin Leeney would finish the inning off for the Phoenix with an RBI double, scoring Chris King to conclude the scoring affair for Elon on the day.
The offense for both teams went silent for the next five innings until the Spartans scored its third run off Elon reliever, sophomore RHP Nick Beaulac with a base hit RBI from infielder Eric Kalbfleisch. Beaulac only pitched for half of the inning as he was pulled in favor for senior LHP Jake Stalzer.
Stalzer would be replaced after only a single batter, paving the way for closer junior RHP Joe McGillicuddy who finsished out the game for the Phoenix, earning the save and giving Elon its fifth win of the season.
“[Harris’s] start really sticks out,” said head coach Mike Kennedy. “I thought early on we were pretty good offensively, but overall it was good to get out on that field. We haven’t practiced in two weeks and you have to keep getting reps.”
The Phoenix is scheduled to play Wagner University on Friday, Feb. 27 at Latham Park (weather permitting). First pitch will be at 4 p.m.