On a sunny yet brisk day at Latham Park Saturday afternoon, junior pitcher Robbie Welhaf seemed to find his groove again after giving up eight runs to Clemson University Feb. 25.
Two games removed from his no-hitter against Longwood University Feb. 18, Welhaf’s eight strikeouts over eight scoreless inning led the Elon Univeristy baseball team in defeating the University of Massachusetts at Amherst 3-0. The win ensures the Phoenix first series win in two weeks.
“The thought today was just to throw strikes,” Welhaf said. “Just throw strikes, put the ball in play and let the defense do the work.”
Welhaf started the game rather slow and threw 35 pitches in the second inning, but recovered very well following an impressive defensive move that resulted in a double play. From there, Welhaf would pitch up until the ninth inning when junior pitcher Sean Brynes came in and earned the save for Elon.
Coach Mike Kennedy was impressed the way Welhaf bounced back. Though he didn’t repeat his no-hitter performance, giving up zero runs was just as sweet.
“He was pretty good,” Kennedy said. “I would say his change-up wasn’t near as good as the day he threw the no hitter, but he did some other things. His breaking got good, he threw a few really good sliders but from the second inning on he got really good.”
The Phoenix got going early on offense after a solo home run by freshman second baseman Joe Satterfield in the first inning. Junior catcher Hayden Platt opened up the third inning with an RBI double and would later score the third run for Elon in the bottom of the seventh after an RBI single from sophomore shortstop Ryne Ogren.
Kennedy was pleased in the way his team hit the ball after the team struggled to generate runs against Clemson, Liberty University and East Carolina University. Elon bunted the ball successfully on a few tries, something that Kennedy said he hopes the team improves upon in the future — getting runners on base.
“Offensively, just trying to garner a good approach,” he said. “What we’re trying to get across is that we have to play team offense. We’re not good at individual offense, which is what we’re doing right now.”
Welhaf reiterated the point that Coach Kennedy made in that the team needs to settle down and get back into its groove to carry on the momentum from this series win.
“Fortunately we’re pitching really well right now and that’s kept us in a lot of ball games,” he said. “The way we’re pitching and being able to win close games is a good sign.”
The Phoenix will look to complete its first sweep of the season at noon Sunday.