The Elon University baseball team took to the field at Latham Park for the final game in its three-game series against the University of Akron Zips and won 8-3, after a rain-delayed game yesterday resulting in a 12-5 loss.

Head coach Mike Kennedy said after the loss, it was important to pick up the momentum and compete for the series win.

“We tried to get back out as quick as we could,” Kennedy said. “The goal was to try and get an early lead and try and relax a little bit.”

The Phoenix would go on to overpower the Zips once again, winning the series 2-1. 

Freshman right-handed pitcher Ryan Sprock took to the mound for the Phoenix. After pitching three up, three down in the top of the first, the Zips came out in the top of the second eager to score. A leadoff double by sophomore center fielder Ian Pennington would be brought home off of another double by redshirt sophomore left fielder Sam Seeker

The Phoenix would not let that run go unanswered, as junior left fielder Connor Offshack stepped up to the plate. In the first pitch of his at-bat, he drilled a home run to left field, tying the game 1-1.

“I was just trying to hit the ball up the middle and get on base as the leadoff guy,” Offshack said. “I tried to hit the ball hard the entire day and if you hit the ball hard, good things happen.”

Offshack continued his hitting successes in the bottom of the fourth, singling to left field. Kennedy said he was pleased with his consistent at-bats throughout the game. 

“He had some good swings, when he gets in good counts he's got one of the better swings in our ballclub,” Kennedy said.

Redshirt sophomore shortstop Will Vergantino laid down a sacrifice bunt, allowing Offshack to advance to second, eventually coming around to score off of redshirt junior Parker Haskin’s single up the middle. 

“We have a good small game,” Offshack said. “If we can get on the first batter, we can just bunt them over and then rely on someone getting a hit for them to score, which is just good baseball.”

The Zips answered right back, tying the game at 2-2 in the top of the fifth. Elon immediately followed up with bases loaded in the bottom of the fifth off of singles from sophomore right fielder Charlie Granatell and fifth year designated hitter Luke Stephenson and a walk from junior first baseman Cole Reynolds. Offshack then reached on a fielder’s choice, scoring Granatell for the 3-2 lead, a lead that would remain in Elon’s possession throughout the remainder of the ball game.

In the top of the sixth, redshirt junior left-handed pitcher Liam Dabagian came in to relieve Sprock, who ended his night with five innings, two runs and five hits. Both pitched into and out of trouble in their outings, which Kennedy was proud of.

“They’re very similar in terms of their make up,” Kennedy said. “They’re both tough kids, they both compete and they both get after it so that's not surprising that they get in and out of trouble. But their ability to just stick with it, trust their stuff and not give in is what allows those two guys to be successful.”

Sydney Spencer | Elon News Network
Junior right-handed pitcher Ben Simon and junior first baseman Cole Reynolds celebrate with their team after the 8-3 victory against University of Akron Feb. 26.

The win was locked for the Phoenix in the bottom of the sixth. Leadoff redshirt junior third baseman Connor Coolahan would begin the inning with a walk and end it off with a pop out, allowing everyone in the lineup to get an at-bat. Three Phoenix hits and two errors by the Zips would score four runs for a 7-2 game.

“Offensively we had a bunch of guys play good roles,” Kennedy said. “We played the short game, we executed some bunts, put a little pressure on them, they made mistakes. We came up with some big knocks, RBI singles, and two out hits. It was a great team win and a lot of guys contributed, which is what we want.”

Both teams would each score one more run in the seventh, bringing the score to 8-3. Junior right-handed pitcher Ben Simon would close out the game in the top of the ninth with two swinging strikeouts and a ground out. 

With the win, the Phoenix improved to 4-3 on the young season. The team will face the University of North Carolina, Greensboro at 4 p.m. Feb. 28.

“We’re going to continue to hit, we’re going to field the ball, and we’re just going to play our baseball,” Offshack said.