After a short stay upon returning home to Plumeri Park Tuesday, William and Mary hit the road again to open its Colonial Athletic Association slate this weekend, taking on Elon at Latham Park in Elon, N.C. The Tribe (9-11, 2-1 CAA), picked to finish fifth in the conference before the season, took two of three from the Phoenix, who were third in preseason rankings.
The College had a strong start Friday, rattling off eight unanswered runs over the first four-and-a-half innings. Senior first baseman Charley Gould, the preseason CAA Player of the Year, was the catalyst for the Tribe’s early outburst, driving home four runs, including a three-run bomb in the top of the first.
Working with a commanding 8-0 lead, junior right-handed starter Dan Powers allowed Elon (9-11, 1-2 CAA) to cut the lead in half by the end of the sixth inning. Powers ultimately claimed the win, allowing four runs on nine hits in his 5.3 innings pitched.
The Tribe brought the lead back up to five in the top of the seventh, as two hit batters put runners on first and second with one out. Junior designated hitter Ryder Miconi stepped to the plate and smacked a base hit up the middle, freshman catcher Hunter Smith scoring on the play. Miconi enjoyed a strong day at the plate, going 3 for 4 with two runs batted in, scoring twice himself.
Both teams added additional runs over the final two-and-a-half frames, bringing the final score to 10-5 in favor of the Tribe. The Phoenix struck back Saturday, overwhelming the Tribe 13-7.
Both teams jumped on the opposing starting pitchers early in the game, Elon grabbing the initial advantage with five runs in the bottom of the first off senior right-hander Mitchell Aker. Aker did not record a decision, going just three innings while allowing seven runs, four earned, on six hits and five walks.
The College responded with six runs in the top of the second, Miconi and Gould driving home four in the inning. Gould’s two-out, two-run double drove the Tribe ahead 6-5. The College only scored once after the second, an RBI double by freshman third baseman Zach Pearson in the fifth, scoring sophomore left fielder Ryan Hall.
Elon quickly seized the lead back in the bottom of the third, courtesy of a two-run shot by Phoenix designated hitter CJ Young. After Pearson’s double knotted the game at 7-7, the Phoenix scored six times over the fifth through eighth innings to put the game to bed. The long ball proved the largest source of runs for Elon over the latter half of the game, as four of those six runs resulting from Phoenix home runs. Freshman left-hander Kinston Carson was saddled with his first collegiate loss, relieving Aker in the fourth inning and giving up two runs over two innings.
The Tribe took the series with another strong offensive display Sunday, crushing Elon 14-7 in the rubber game. After Pearson answered a lone Phoenix run in the bottom of the first when he stole home in the top of the second, the College plated four runs in the third and two in the fifth to take a 7-1 lead into the bottom half of the fifth. No one man carried the load on offense, as every position player scored at least one run, and all players except Miconi drove in at least one as well.
Elon responded in the fifth and sixth, scoring two and three times respectively. Junior right-handed starter Nick Brown was pulled after the fifth, eventually credited with the win after allowing three runs on five hits and four walks, striking out six.
Their lead down to one, the Tribe plated six runs over the final three innings with a leadoff solo shot by Gould in the top of the seventh getting things started before a four-run ninth clinched the victory for the College. Six different players drove in at least a run over the span, the Phoenix’s only response a single run in the bottom of the eighth. Senior right-hander Joseph Gaouette tossed a perfect final inning and a third for his fourth save of the season, and the Tribe opened CAA play with an impressive series win over one of the league’s better teams.
The College begins a seven-game home stand Tuesday, taking on in-state rival Richmond before three-game sets against CAA foes Hofstra and Georgetown. First pitch for the game against the Spiders is scheduled for 6 p.m. at Plumeri Park.