A four-run third inning was all the Elon University baseball team needed as the Phoenix held on to a 4-3 victory over Appalachian State University in the final game of the Elon Invitational March 6.
Junior designated hitter CJ Young led off the frame with a walk and came around to score on junior second baseman Nick Zammarelli’s RBI double. Zammarelli found a gap in left-center field and junior outfielder Brian Bauk was unable to cut the ball off, which allowed Young to score all the way from first base.
The next batter, junior outfielder Kyle Jackson, followed with a RBI single to score Zammarelli. Senior infielder Danny Lynch then doubled Elon’s lead with a two-RBI single up the middle to score Jackson and senior infielder Tyler McVicar.
“It was good to see come through,” said freshman pitcher Mason Daniels – who benefitted from a four-run cushion. “Early in the weekend they were struggling at the plate and it was good to see them string a couple hits together.”
Head coach Mike Kennedy said he normally sits Lynch against left-handed pitching, but decided to keep his hot bat in the lineup.
Appalachian State cut Elon’s lead in half in the top of the sixth with a pair of runs. After a leadoff double, freshman second baseman Jason Curtis scored on past ball. Senior designated hitter Grayson Atwood then singled off freshman pitcher Ryan Conroy – who entered in relief of the starter Daniels – to score senior infielder Caleb McCann.
Daniels looked sharp in his third start of the season. Both of the runs charged to Daniels came when he was no longer on the mound. The Gahanna, Ohio native went 5.1 innings allowing three hits, three walks and struck out six Appalachian State batters.
“I felt I was more efficient attacking the hitters,” he said. “I started actually using my changeup early in the counts, which got me to go after them quicker, got a couple of swing and misses and got a lot of weak groundballs to start the game.”
Kennedy said while Daniels was unable to throw his breaking ball with any success, he was able to rely on his other pitches to get through his start.
“He’s competing down in the bottom of the zone and as long as he does that, he’s going to be pretty good for us,” Kennedy said. “He’s got that two-seem [fastball,] which has a lot of sink and when it’s down it’s pretty nasty.”
Appalachian State cut Elon’s lead to 4-3 in the 8th inning. Myers walked and McCann doubled down the right field line to but the tying runs in scoring position. The next batter then grounded out to second base scoring Myers.
Though, junior pitcher Chris Hall stranded the tying run at third by striking out Atwood. Daniels said he had confidence in Hall to stop the rally and preserve his second straight winning start. He turned to teammate junior pitcher Matt Harris and they both agreed, “Halls’ got this.”
Hall then picked up two more strikeouts and forced a weak ground ball to close out the game and pick up his third save of the season.
While Halls had to get two extra out to earn the save, Kennedy said Hall can make it look easy.
“When you throw 93 with that slider and you’re down in the zone, it’s pretty easy and he’s in a good place right now,” Kennedy said.
Elon improves to 5-7 with the win. The loss drops Appalachian State to 2-10. The Phoenix will resume its seven-game, home stand against Liberty University March 6 at 4:30 p.m.