Elon University head baseball coach Mike Kennedy chalked up his team’s recent offensive success to a handful of players, but more notably, two spots in the lineup.
The first two.
Kennedy noted freshman infielder Ryne Ogren’s ownership of the lead-off spot, along with junior utility man Nick Zammarelli’s emergence in the two-hole, as keys to Elon’s offensive prowess that plated 61 runs in a span of five games last week.
Ogren and Zammarelli have formed a one-two punch, and with senior infielder Tyler McVicar’s 13-game hitting streak and freshman outfielder Liam O’Regan’s stretch of five straight games with a home run, the Phoenix is in the midst of its longest conference winning streak in seven years.
Elon’s won eight straight games in Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) play and has climbed to third place in the league after stumbling early to a 2-7 start in the league.
Ogren has hit in the leadoff spot in every game during this hot stretch, and was a catalyst in the victory that started the streak. He was 3-for-4 with an RBI single in Elon’s victory at Northeastern University on April 9.
Overall, he’s hitting .281 with 20 RBI.
“In the last two or three weeks, you know, everyone talks about [Zammarelli], everyone talks about McVicar,” Kennedy said. “But if you look at what [Ogren and O’Regan] have done in that stretch, you see what our numbers have done. They’ve gone up since Ogren’s been in the leadoff spot.
“He’s competing his tail off, taking pitches, working counts and going deep in counts. … [Zammarelli] got going in the two-hole. Those two guys have set the table for us and got us going.”
Zammarelli’s performance at the plate has been of particular note. He went 5-for-6 with a grand slam in Elon’s April 20 victory against the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and followed that up with a 4-for-5 showing with four RBI and four runs scored against Hofstra University on April 23.
His 19 doubles and 40 RBI lead the Phoenix.
“I’ve been focusing, when I load, to sit on my back leg,” Zammarelli said. “Seeing the ball deep, stuff like that. When I’m not on my A-game, I tend to be jumpy. But I’m seeing the ball well, and I hope it continues.”
It’s only fitting Ogren and Zammarelli earned CAA Rookie of the Wekk and CAA Player of the Week honors, respectively.
McVicar sports the best batting average on the team at .327, and O’Regan has hit nine home runs.
After a sweep of Towson University April 15-17, Kennedy talked about how the offense still needed improvement to get Elon to where it wanted to be.
That message has been received loud and clear.
“Everyone’s starting to catch on to knowing what they’re going to get in certain situations,” McVicar said. “Guys are looking for that more. We’re not swinging out of the zone nearly as much as we were at the beginning of the year. We’re starting to get comfortable.”