The Elon University baseball team defeated the University of Delaware Blue Hens in the second game of its weekend series, moving to 7-1 in Colonial Athletic Association play. Strong pitching and powerful bats allowed the Phoenix to overcome an early 2-0 deficit on the way to an 8-3 victory.
Ryan Sprock, the utility player having an impressive freshman campaign, took the mound again Saturday. Sprock, hitting .310 with a 2.18 ERA, continued showcasing his skills. In both the first and second inning, Delaware gained runners in scoring positions, but Sprock allowed his defense to help him, executing two double plays to get out safely.
“Team defense helps me have confidence outside of my own ability,” Sprock said. “If I execute and they hit the ball hard somewhere I know I have guys behind me.”
Sprock finished his pitching performance going six full innings, allowing two runs and six hits.
Both teams remained deadlocked at zero before the Blue Hens broke through in the top of the fourth. Facing an 0-2 two out count with runners on first and second, Delaware junior first baseman Aidan Kane carried a ball past the outstretched arms of Elon junior center fielder Justin Cassella, bouncing off the Wilson Tire Pros sign. Both runners scored standing up, putting the Phoenix down two with 18 outs to stage a comeback.
Stage a comeback they did, kicked off by fifth year catcher Luke Stephenson’s solo home run in the bottom of the sixth. Junior first baseman Cole Reynolds ate a pitch to the ribs the next at bat, boarding the tying run. One batter later, Cassella, who hit a grand slam in Friday’s 12-2 victory, belted a first-pitch fastball over the right field fence, giving his team a 3-2 lead.
Elon extended its lead in the following inning. Following Stephenson’s walk, Reynolds finally saw the pitch he liked, crushing a no-doubter over the centerfield fence. The Phoenix aggression continued, as redshirt junior second baseman Tanner Holliman and Cassella poked back-to-back singles. Sprock, with six innings pitched under his belt, came in to play third, and launched a 1-2 fastball away opposite for a three-run shot of his own, extending the Phoenix lead to 8-2.
“Sprock’s the same guy just about every time,” head coach Mike Kennedy said. “Goes six innings and hits a home run. For a freshman, he’s beyond his years in how he carries himself. Keeps dealing and doesn’t sweat runners on base.”
This 8-3 victory is the seventh straight conference win for the Phoenix. At 7-1 in the CAA, Elon is in sole possession of first place with two months of regular season play remaining. Elon will face Delaware Sunday at 2 p.m. for the weekend series finale, a home series sweep on the horizon.
“Confidence breeds success,” Kennedy said. This game will humble you in a hurry, and our guys know it’s a game of failure. The unique thing about this group is we take pride and joy in others doing well. Up and down the lineup guys have had success, so they know it doesn’t have to be the same guy over and over. These guys understand that so they can come to the ballpark a little more relaxed and for lack of a better term be a kid and play the game freely.”