Senior infielder Kory Shumate's walk-off single ended the Elon University baseball team's five-game losing streak, capping off Elon's 4-3 comeback win over the University of Massachusetts at Amherst (UMass) Friday night at Latham Park.
With the score tied at three, runners on first and second base and two outs, Shumate — who had started the night 0-for-3 — kept his composure to drop a walk-off single in deep right field, scoring freshman infielder Joe Satterfield and sending all of Elon's players racing to mob Shumate.
“I’ve never actually hit a walk-off,” Shumate said. “I just wanted to put a good swing on it and drive the run in any way I could. I think I came up in the right spot at the right time.”
Trailing 3-1 with two outs in the bottom of the eighth, sophomore catcher James Venuto punched a two-run single through the middle, tying the game at three. Head coach Mike Kennedy was pleased in Elon's approach at the plate.
“It’s nice to see,” Kennedy said. “We’ve been in some tough situations and haven't been able to get a big hit. Tonight James [Venuto] gets a big hit up the middle to score two late, then obviously what Shu [Kory Shumate] did was outstanding.”
After UMass opened the game with a run in the first, junior outfielder and leadoff hitter Zach Evers responded by blasting home run to center field on the first pitch he saw.
Sophomore pitcher Ryan Conroy settled in after the first, keeping the Minutemen scoreless until the sixth. UMass scored two in the inning, but Conroy got out of trouble and finished the night going 6.2 innings, striking out seven while allowing six hits, four walks and three runs.
Kennedy took the ball from Conroy and went straight to senior pitcher Danny Crowe, who continued his impressive start to the season by walking just one in 2.1 innings pitched. Crowe struck out four and earned the win, taking pride in stopping Elon's losing streak.
“We’re just battling for each other,” Crowe said. “That’s what it takes at this point. When you have a little skid of a losing streak, you got to play for each other. I thought early on we could have quit, but we have a bunch of tough kids, and they stick together all nine. That’s what we preach.”
This win improves Elon’s record to 4-6, with the second game of the three-game series against UMass coming at 2 p.m. Saturday.