The Elon University baseball team won the first game of its weekend series against the Towson University Tigers to extend its winning streak to five games. The win was the 800th of head coach Mike Kennedy’s career, all of which have come at Elon.
Kennedy was quick to credit his team for helping him achieve this milestone and said he is happier about staying in the race for the Colonial Athletic Association Tournament than he is about hitting 800 wins.
“I’m obviously excited for our team, that’s what goes in my mind first,” Kennedy said. “We’re in the middle of a big race trying to get in this tournament, so that’s really all I can think of.”
Both teams were held scoreless for the first two innings before Towson scored two runs in the top of the third to take the lead on a two-run single by Elijah Dickerson.
Elon responded in the bottom half of the inning with three runs of its own to take a 3-2 lead after three innings. Elon scored its runs on a two-run single by redshirt sophomore center fielder Alex Iadisernia and added the third on a passed ball.
Redshirt sophomore pitcher Joe Savino started for the Phoenix and pitched four innings, allowing three runs on five hits. After allowing the leadoff hitter to reach base in the top of the fifth, Savino was replaced by freshman Sam DiLella, who allowed one run in two innings of relief.
Towson scored twice in the fifth inning to tie the game at 4-4. The teams traded zeros for the next four innings until the Phoenix squeaked out the win on a walk-off hit-by-pitch by Iadisernia.
Freshman Alex Duffey came into the game as a pinch hitter to lead off the bottom of the ninth inning and delivered his first career extra-base hit.
“I’ve been called on a few times to pinch hit, and it hasn’t gone the best for me so far,” Duffey said. “But I’m just staying on course, doing what coach has asked of me, and it worked out well today for everybody.”
Sophomore Justin Cassella replaced Duffey on second base as a pinch runner and eventually scored the game winning run following a bunt single by Haskin and an intentional walk to redshirt sophomore second baseman Connor Coolahan.
Kennedy said he is proud of Duffey for staying ready to come off the bench.
“Duffey’s at-bat, that was incredible,” Kennedy said. “He gets a 3-1 pitch, and does what you’re supposed to do, and put a really good swing on it.”
Redshirt junior Kyle Greenler replaced DiLella in the seventh inning and recorded three scoreless innings to earn the win. Greenler allowed only two hits while throwing 29 of his 38 pitches for strikes.
With the win, the Phoenix improved to 24-22 on the season, with an 8-10 record in conference play. The team is currently the sixth and last team in position to qualify for the CAA tournament, which will be played at Latham Park starting May 25.
Elon faces Towson two more times this weekend before playing William & Mary at home in a three-game series prior to the start of the conference tournament.