The Elon University baseball team opened up its season on Friday, Feb. 13 against the Penn State University Nittany Lions at Latham Park.
In a scoring affair that totaled 31 runs for both teams, Elon won its opening day match up against Penn State 16-15 on a chilly afternoon game that lasted for four hours.
The Phoenix scored at least one run in every inning besides the 6th and 9th with an outpouring of offense from its entire starting lineup. Senior first baseman, and preseason All-American, Casey Jones was happy that the team pulled out the win, although in not the most ideal way.
“It was a win no matter how it looks,” Jones said. “It’s always good to win that first game, especially going into tomorrow if we win two more and get a sweep.”
Amongst the standout performances from the Phoenix included junior catcher Austin Leeney who went 4 for 4 in his first game with Elon. Leeney would account for two Phoenix runs and had one RBI.
“I’ve been trying to buy in what [the coaches] are telling me to do,” Leeney said. “I’m not a power guy, I’m really trying to buy into their system of just seeing the ball deep, hitting it up the middle. That’s what I did and it worked.”
Elon built a 5-0 lead after the first four innings before Penn State yielded six-runs in the top of the 4th to take its only lead of the night.
The Phoenix would immediately regain the lead in the very next inning from a two-RBI single by senior DH Chris King. King would finish the game with a team-leading 5 RBI’s off of four at-bats.
"I've been feeling very good lately the past few weeks," King said. "I saw these guys well today... that's my job as a four hitter-to get runs in."
In the bottom of the 7th inning Elon blew the game wide open, scoring seven runs to take a commanding 16-6 lead over the Nittany Lions. Six different Phoenix players would record RBI’s in the inning alone as Elon scored its most runs since May of 2013.
Penn State did not go down lightly.
In the 8th and 9th innings, Elon would have to utilize four different pitchers in response to a Penn State rally that yielded nine runs. RHP Joe McGillicuddy registed the save for the Phoenix when he struck out pinch hitter Aaron Novak of the Nittany Lions to end the game and put a halt to the rally.
“I thought we did some really good things,” said Elon head coach Mike Kennedy. “Obviously the offensive side will stick out, but for seven innings we were pretty good on the mound. We’re going to go home happy.”
The Phoenix will play a doubleheader to wrap its series against Penn State tomorrow, Feb. 14 starting at 12 p.m. in Latham Park.