Although Elon only trailed ECU in hits 11-7, the Phoenix left nine runners on base. Head coach Mike Kennedy said the team has struggled in at-bats with runners on base in recent games and was disappointed with some of the pitches Elon batters swung at throughout the game.
“That’s kind of a broken record for us,” Kennedy said. “We’re just swinging at a lot of bad pitches and it’s getting us in a ton of trouble.”
After a scoreless first inning, ECU took a 2-0 lead with a pair of RBI singles. Redshirt sophomore Liam Dabagian started at pitcher for Elon and allowed both runs in the second inning.
Elon went to its bullpen before the end of the second inning and used a total of eight pitchers, though none of them pitched two full innings. Kennedy said Elon’s plan entering the game was to rely on several pitchers and was pleased with how the staff performed despite some mistakes defensively.
“We told our guys Sunday leaving Northeastern that Tuesday would be a staff day and to be ready to go,” Kennedy said. “We did a fairly decent job.”
Elon loaded the bases in the bottom of the third inning after a leadoff single, a double and a walk. With one out, redshirt sophomore right fielder Alex Iadisernia hit a sacrifice fly to right field to score sophomore third baseman Connor Offshack and make the score 3-1, but with two runners still on base, redshirt junior designated hitter Luke Stephenson struck out to end the inning.
ECU added three more runs in the top of the sixth inning to take a 7-1 lead and though Elon had base runners in the fourth, fifth, seventh, eighth and ninth innings, the team could not add another run.
This was the third consecutive game Elon has scored one run or less. According to Kennedy, the team’s recent struggles on offense have put more pressure on the pitching and defense and said even small deficits feel larger than they are.
“When you’re not scoring, those little leads feel like they’re 10, 12 runs,” Kennedy said.
Elon spent over 15 hours on a bus Monday traveling back from Boston following the team’s doubleheader at Northeastern University on Sunday as the team’s return flight was canceled. The team did not return to Elon until about 10 p.m. Monday night, meaning the team could not practice as it usually does on Mondays.
“It was tough but no excuses,” Kennedy said. “We had a lot of guys show up at the park today that were complaining that their back hurt. I know mine hurt just from sitting on that bus for so long. So definitely not business as usual.”
This was the first game of an eight game home stand for Elon. The Phoenix plays the University of North Carolina Asheville in a three game series this weekend, with the first game scheduled for Friday at 5 p.m.