Jawing between the two dugouts in the ninth inning and following the game marred what was a 12-6 victory by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill over host Elon University.
With two outs in the top of the ninth, UNC sophomore Landon Lassiter stole second for his third steal of the year. Elon wasn’t too happy about it giving the scenario.
“There’s a lot of respect in the game of baseball,” Elon junior left fielder Casey Jones said. “When you steal up by six in that situation, with closers in there to finish the job, that’s kind of bush-league.
Elon reliever Grant Fisher then came inside to UNC’s next batter, causing home plate umpire Greg Street to issue a warning to both teams. North Carolina head coach Mike Fox became irate, leaving the third base coaching box and yelling both at Street and across the diamond to Elon’s dugout.
“We don’t have a sign for (throwing at a batter),” Elon coach Mike Kennedy said. “Why you stealing there? I don’t know. We’ve got some guys who watch a lot of baseball, I’m glad about that. That was good.”
Fisher had hit a batter earlier in the inning, and has hit 12 batters in 15 innings pitched.
After the game, Kennedy and Fox continued yelling at each other. A UNC assistant had to calm Kennedy down.
Jones thought Elon was being disrespected in that situation.
“I was pissed,” he said. “If I was anywhere in the infield, I would have said something to the guy. You don’t rub it in someone’s face, especially when you’re Carolina.”
Besides that, it was a five-run first inning that got UNC going and helped set up the victory.
Senior second baseman Parks Jordan had a RBI double and sophomore catcher Korey Dunbar singled in a run, but it was freshman first baseman Joe Dudek who belted a three-run home run to right center field that was the icing on the cake.
“Another slow start for us, we saw it last game too,” freshman third baseman Nick Zammarelli said. “We start slow, and something happens for us to get some energy, but it’s too late.”
Sophomore Taylore Cherry had a no-hitter until Jones hit a solo home run to center in the fourth inning. Cherry took the win after throwing 5.2 innings in which he allowed four runs on four hits with three walks.
Elon used eight pitchers with senior Jacob Baker lasting the longest at 2.1 innings. Junior starter John Antonelli was saddled with the loss after surrendering five runs on five hits in his only inning of work. It was his first start of the year and the seventh midweek starter Elon has used.
The closest the Phoenix came was in the sixth inning, as Elon scored three runs to make it 8-4. UNC walked in a run and junior Wil Leathers hit a 2-RBI single for Elon.
Jordan was 3-for-4 for UNC with 3 RBIs. He was a home run short of the cycle.
Elon senior second baseman Sebastian Gomez did not play because of a “team rules violation.” After the game, Kennedy said that Gomez is no longer on the team, citing that he broke a school rule and violated a team policy.
“It’s unfortunate,” Kennedy said.
UNC also had disciplinary suspensions. Shortstop Michael Russell was suspended for a violation of team rules, and Lassiter and Skye Bolt did not start because they were late to team meal.
Elon has now lost eight of its last 10 games. The Phoenix will be on the road May 9-11 at Furman University in its final Southern Conference series of the year.