The Elon University baseball team certainly knows how to bounce back from a tough loss.
After a 3-0 defeat at the hands of Atlantic Coast Conference powerhouse No. 6 University of North Carolina March 7 at Latham Park, the Phoenix swept a three game series against preseason conference favorites Georgia Southern University. On Friday, March 9, the Phoenix was able to beat top pitching prospect Chris Beck and the Eagles 4-3 in a tough, low scoring game.
“(Sweeping Georgia Southern) was real big,” sophomore first baseman/catcher Ryan Kinsella said. “They were predicted to win the conference and we took a sweep from them. We’re just trying to get the respect we deserve.”
Elon remains in first place in the Southern Conference heading into its next two SoCon series against Davidson College March 16-18 and Appalachian State University March 23-25.
“We took off the top two (Georgia Southern and College of Charleston) and now we just can’t fall back and play the other teams like they aren’t Georgia Southern and College of Charleston,” Kinsella said. “We just need to keep up-tempo and keep going.”
As the Phoenix navigates its way through the middle of the schedule, junior pitcher Nate Young recognizes how important the next few series will be.
“It’s a huge couple weeks here,” Young said. “We need every one we can get. We had South Carolina and North Carolina and we kinda dropped the ball on those, but we think we can get a good streak going, especially with this momentum.”
Head coach Mike Kennedy isn’t thrilled with how his team played Sunday, but knows how important the three wins over Georgia Southern were.
“A sweep at home, sweeps anywhere for that matter are hard to come by,” Kennedy said. “It’s nice to get that one. I didn’t think we played well (Sunday), I thought we played good Friday and Saturday. To win it playing that way gives you some hope that if you continue to play good and stay in games, then you feel good about where you are.”
The Elon offense, which had been struggling for the last few games, caught fire against the Eagles, scoring 18 runs in three games. The offensive explosion put less pressure on the pitching staff, which had been carrying the team thus far. The Phoenix hitters had to score seven runs Sunday, including a Kinsella walk-off single to win the game.
“There’s no doubt (the pitching staff has carried the team so far), but you have to give the credit to the hitters,” Young said. “We kinda messed up, we left some balls up and the hitters really covered us.”
After its series with Davidson, Elon will play ACC foe Clemson University March 20 and 21. The Tigers are currently ranked 19th in the nation.
“Our schedule is just tough,” Kennedy said. “All our games are tough. Nothing’s easy, they never are at this level. The minute you think they are, somebody steps up and beats you.”
For the Phoenix, not much lately.