MONMOUTH, N.J. - Offensive power continued for the Elon University baseball team in its 12-5 victory against Colonial Athletic Association opponent Monmouth University.
The win marks the fourth straight for the Phoenix, the longest winning streak all season after two wins against Northeastern and one against NC State. Head coach Mike Kennedy said he’s pleased with the momentum that the team has built.
“Confidence breeds success, and we preach that to these guys all the time,” Kennedy said. “The more they experience those kinds of wins and that kind of play, the better they are.”
Today was the teams’ first matchup, as Monmouth joined the CAA in July 2022. Kennedy said this did not worry him.
“We put together scouting reports and kind of had an idea of what they like to do, but more than anything, it’s just being ourselves,” Kennedy said. “Trying to take care of what we do and worry about Elon — we try to do that more than anything.”
The Phoenix wasted no time getting on the board, scoring in the top of the first off of junior first baseman Cole Reynolds’ sacrifice fly.
Sophomore left-handed pitcher Shea Sprague got the start for the Phoenix and continued his dominant 2023 campaign, pitching for 7 2/3 innings – his longest outing all season. He gave up three runs, two earned, but Kennedy said he was impressed with Sprague nonetheless.
“It’s what he always does, changes speed, mixes those fastballs in and keeps guys off balance,” Kennedy said. “I thought he did a really good job even when they got the two late. He continues to give us a chance to win every time he goes out.”
Elon continued offensively, scoring two runs in each of the next three innings. In the top of the second, sophomore right fielder Charlie Granatell hit a two RBI double, bringing the score to 3-0.
Freshman designated hitter Ryan Sprock stepped up to bat in the top of the third and launched a home run to right field. Sprock, the two-time CAA rookie of the week, said he’s been happy with his at-bats this season.
“It’s been nice to have some opportunity early on, especially early as a freshman,” Sprock said. “I’m just building on each day, trying to keep playing well each day and hopefully success follows.”
His next at-bat was the same, this time a two-run home run in the fourth that brought the score to 7-0. This home run marked his fourth all season, the second most on the team.
“At the end of the day, just looking to hit something hard, regardless of what it is,” Sprock said. “Try to get at your pitch early in the count, and if you have to battle up later on, just fighting pitches off and competing in the box.”
Sprague was taken out in the bottom of the eighth after a two-run home run brought the score to 7-3. Redshirt junior right-handed pitcher Joe Savino came in for relief with runners on third and second and two outs.
Granatell, moving to left field, ended the inning with a diving catch, which Kennedy said could have easily turned into a double and changed the course of the game.
“That was huge. It could be a different game if he doesn't make that play,” Kennedy said. “They're trying to fight back in it. They're getting closer. And that's at least two runs if you don't make that play. That’s the play of the game, no question.”
The Phoenix bats did not end the afternoon quietly, as five runs were scored off of three hits in the top of the ninth, bringing the score to 12-3. The offense was propelled by redshirt junior second baseman Tanner Holliman’s two-run home run, his fifth of the season and the most on the team.
“Tanner's home run was big because we answered,” Kennedy said. “They scored a couple, and then we were able to answer and keep the gap big. That five-run ninth was huge for a couple reasons. It keeps some momentum on this side of the field.”
Savino finished the bottom of the ninth after a two-run RBI single brought the final score to 12-5 in the favor of the Phoenix.
Elon will stay in Monmouth for two more games against the Hawks this weekend, with Sprock starting tomorrow at 1 p.m. He said he is ready to be back on the mound.
“I like to take it easy today before I pitch, but lock it in in the morning before the game comes around,” Sprock said. “I just got to compete every pitch, trust our game plan and trust my stuff, and hopefully walk out of here with another win.”