But on Tuesday, Elon scored twice in the seventh and eighth innings to defeat the North Carolina State University Wolfpack 7-5.
“It’s nice to see the effort we put forth,” Kennedy said. “We put pressure on [NC State] and we made them pay for it.”
Elon took the lead in the eighth when the Wolfpack brought in freshman relief pitcher Tommy DeJuneas with two outs and one runner on base. After DeJuneas walked the first two batters he faced, Elon sophomore Nick Zammarelli stepped into the batter's box.
Zammarelli drove a 2-2 pitch deep to the hole between the first and second baseman. His hustle beat the throw to first and forced a Wolfpack error to allow two runs to cross home for the Phoenix.
“I was just trying to hit the ball as hard as I could,” Zammarelli said. “I saw the infield was a little in, so I was just trying to get in through the infield.”
The Wolfpack and the Phoenix traded runs in the second inning. After NC State got its run on a sacrifice fly by senior Joel McKeithan, Elon scored when freshman James Venuto led off the inning with a home run.
Elon took the lead in the bottom of the fourth as senior Chris King and junior Danny Lynch both hit RBI singles up the middle.
Elon’s starter, sophomore Mike Krill, pitched well for the first four innings but gave up three runs in the fifth without recording an out. Burlington native and freshman Brock Deatherage singled to start the inning for the Wolfpack. Senior Jake Fincher’s single to right advanced Deatherage to third. But Elon sophomore D.J. Paone’s throw from right field sailed over third base and out of play allowed Deatherage to score and Fincher to advance to third.
Fincher scored on a wild pitch during senior Logan Ratledge’s plate appearance, which ended in a walk. Sophomore Preston Palmeiro, the son of fomer Major Leagur Rafael Palmeiro, hit drove a double to give the Wolfpack a 4-3 lead.
Jake Stalzer came in after Palmeiro's double and retired all six batters he faced over two innings of work. Stalzer finished his two-inning performing having thrown just 18 pitches. Elon sophomore Chris Hall pitched the seventh and surrendered a leadoff home run to Fincher.
In the bottom of the seventh, Elon tied the game thanks to two Wolfpack errors; both errors came from freshman third baseman Joe Dunand. The Phoenix had an opportunity to take the lead in the seventh with King at plate with two on and two out. But Wolfpack junior reliever Will Gilbert struck King out to end the seventh.
Elon’s closer, junior Joe McGillicuddy, pitched the eighth and ninth for the Phoenix. He threw two perfect innings to earn his first career collegiate win.
“The starters have done well, but when it has gotten to the bullpen, it’s been a coin flip,” McGillicuddy said. “The fact that we [as a bullpen] were able to go out there and do our job feels great.”
Kennedy was also impressed by his relievers' performances.
“It was really good to see our bullpen do well," Kennedy said. "It puts us in a good spot going into this weekend.”
With the win, Elon is now 15-16 (6-3 Colonial Athletic Association). NC State falls to 19-12 overall. Next up for the Phoenix: a three-game road series against the College of Charleston Cougars. The Cougars are undefeated with a 9-0 record in the CAA.