Elon University baseball (21-16, 10-2 CAA) fell to the East Carolina University Pirates 9-4 Tuesday, April 16, at Latham Park. The Phoenix's slow start in the first inning set the team back too far for it to recover.
“Certainly that first inning put us behind, and we’re like, ‘Ah shoot, here we go again,'” said head coach Mike Kennedy.
The Phoenix gave up five runs in the first inning after the Pirates batted around on redshirt junior pitcher Mason Daniels. Daniels was eventually taken out in the first inning.
“Our guy was just having trouble locating down in the zone, and that's going to happen from time to time,” said redshirt junior infielder Cam Devanney. “I think it's important that he knows that next time he gets his chance that we’ll be there for him and we’ll need him to be ready to go and bounce back.”
Despite the slow start, the Phoenix dug deep and pressed back against the confident Pirates. Junior catcher Nick Cicci scored the first run in the second inning, a small sign of hope for the Phoenix.
"It showed a lot of character for our guys to come back after that first inning and compete and stay in the game,” Devanney said.
After the first inning, the Phoenix kept the Pirates to just four more runs by the end of the game, something redshirt junior utility Ty Adcock said was inevitable.
“They’re a good hitting team, so they’re going to get runs, but I think we limited them,” Adcock said. “We had nothing to lose. They were the expected team to win, so if we come out on top, that would’ve just been a plus for us.”
The Phoenix had their best defensive innings during the fifth, sixth and seventh innings when the Phoenix retired nine straight batters.
“The mindset wasn’t ‘OK, what’s going to happen now?’ anymore. I think it was ‘Alright, let me go be aggressive, let me go attack these guys and let's get them swinging,'” Kennedy said.
The Phoenix rallied back to bring in three more runs, with the last coming from Devanney via the long ball. In Elon's last at bat with two outs left, junior infielder Jarrett Pico hit a single and then stole second to try to get something going for his team, but freshman outfielder Tyler Cranston struck out swinging to Pirate senior Sam Lanier, who’s accumulated 23 strikeouts already this season.
Looking ahead, the Phoenix will play the College of William and Mary Tribe (21-14, 5-7 CAA) in a three-game weekend series. Despite its loss to the Pirates, the Phoenix remain positive.
“We’ll take some mistakes we made from this game, and using it as feedback going into the weekend, we have to know what we did wrong and make sure we don’t do it again,” Adcock said. “We’re 10-2 in the conference right now, so the big thing is we’re already ahead, but we have to create a gap and more separation from us and the other teams. Everyone is going to be coming after our necks, but we just have to play hard and get wins.”