All season long, Elon University baseball head coach Mike Kennedy has trusted junior pitcher Chris Hall to finish games.
When Hall loaded the bases with no outs in the ninth and Elon leading by two, he didn't flinch.
“The great thing about Hall is he shows little emotion,” said assistant coach Robbie Huffstetler. “Bases loaded, nobody out or 1-2-3, he’s really the same guy. He’s really even-keel.”
“I still haven’t seen emotion out of him,” added senior pitcher and starter Michael Elefante.
Hall flashed that calmness — getting a double play and a strikeout to end the game and giving the Phoenix the win it desperately needed Saturday, staving off Towson University 7-6 and clinching the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) series victory.
“I think we’re playing well,” Huffstetler said. “I think our focus, as a coaching staff, is to win on weekends.”
The Tigers loaded the bases on three singles, and a double play moved the tying run to third. Junior infielder Brady Policelli — the CAA’s leading hitter — came up and battled Hall, but Elon’s closer got Policelli to chase a pitch in the dirt for the final strike and out.
“Once I threw a 1-1 slider out in front of the plate and he swung at that, we knew we had it,” Hall said. “He was pretty much screwed from there.”
After the Tigers tied the game in the top of the seventh, Elon took the lead for good in the bottom half of the inning when senior infielder Danny Lynch’s sac fly scored freshman shortstop Ryne Ogren.
Senior catcher Austin Leeney added an insurance run in the eighth with a sac fly that scored senior pinch-runner Brett Guba. The run proved necessary after Towson’s run in the ninth, clinching Elon’s second straight one-run victory — the first time Elon’s won consecutive one-run games since 2013.
Elefante moved past a rough first — in which he gave up two runs — and finished strong, throwing six innings with three runs, five strikeouts and 111 pitches.
“In the first inning or two, I was up in the zone a little bit,” Elefante said. “But later on, I kept fastballs down and got ahead in counts, which enabled me to waste some pitches and get a few swing-and-misses.”
Elon’s offense put up three in the second on freshman outfielder Liam O’Regan’s opposite-field homer to right. Then in the third, junior designated hitter CJ Young hit his first of three doubles, scoring two to put Elon up 5-3. Young finished 3-for-4.
“When CJ sticks with his approach and focuses on hitting the ball the other way, he’s got a good swing,” Huffstetler said. “When he does that, he’s a pretty good offensive player for us.”
The win puts Elon at 14-21 overall and 6-7 in the CAA, giving Elon a chance to get to .500 in conference if they can sweep Towson. The series finale is at 1:30 p.m. Sunday.