It started with a walk.
There were two outs, and the game was seemingly lost. But then came a walk.
And a dropped third strike. Then two more walks, and a hit batter.
Rapidly, but also a painstakingly long time later, the Elon University baseball team was back in the game.
And the Phoenix won.
Senior infielder Brett Guba’s infield single scored two, completing a four-run ninth inning Elon used to beat Towson University 9-8 April 15, a stunning victory that became the spark plug to a sweep and what seems to be a corner turned in the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) season.
Now, riding a five-game league winning streak, Elon is set to host Hofstra University in what’ll be a pivotal series moving forward in the CAA.
Hofstra, projected to be a basement-dweller in the league, swept league-leading College of Charleston this past weekend.
So it’ll be two teams coming off sweeps jockeying for position in the CAA this weekend at Latham Park.
“We needed the [Towson] sweep,” senior first baseman Tyler McVicar said. “Now we’re .500 in the conference. We have to keep building off that. We did some better things this weekend all around. We have to keep pushing forward with that, and we’ll be in a good spot.”
What stood out the most from the three victories against Towson, which was tied atop the league standings entering Game 2 of the series, was the ways in which Elon won.
The first victory, of course, was in remarkable come-from-behind fashion. The Phoenix hadn’t led and had nobody on base with two outs in the ninth, down three.
It still won.
For the second, Elon had to hold off a late comeback. The Tigers loaded the bases with nobody out in the ninth and down two, but Elon junior closer Chris Hall worked out of the jam, and Towson left the tying run at third.
And the last one, Elon controlled the whole game despite striking out 11 times and cruised to a 5-2 triumph.
“I thought we played complete games all three games,” said freshman outfielder Liam O’Regan, who hit two home runs in the series. “We didn’t really have one inning that hurt us too bad, which has been happening in the past. … The walk-off win on Friday night got some momentum going.”
Elon’s bullpen was terrific, too, keeping the Phoenix in the game Friday and allowing just one hit over four innings in Sunday’s victory.
Starting pitching is improving, but hitting could use some work after the 11-strikeout performance.
Head baseball coach Mike Kennedy likes the schedule moving forward, since the Phoenix already played league powers College of Charleston, University of North Carolina at Wilmington and Northeastern University.
This weekend against Hofstra is an opportunity for Elon to cement itself as a contender in a wide-open CAA race.
“We’re at a point in the schedule where we feel like if we show up, we can compete and have games we’re capable of winning,” Kennedy said. “That doesn’t mean we’re going to win them all. … I feel like we’re in a place, if we can just get it going, come in and compete, we’re going to be in games. ...
“We’ve won five in a row — that’s a good sign. We want to play better. That’s the overriding goal for us. We still have to get better offensively. That’s a huge factor of where we’re going to go. But we are playing better. We’re playing better than we were three weeks ago.”