Baseball: Tribe drops three straight to Elon

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JAMIE HOLT / THE FLAT HAT

Over the weekend, William and Mary (22-17, 5-10 CAA) took on the Elon Phoenix (24-16, 13-2 CAA) for a Colonial Athletic Association series. The Tribe dropped all three games in the series, unable to match the intensity and efficiency of the Phoenix throughout the weekend.

Coming off a thrilling victory in extra innings against George Washington Wednesday, the College welcomed first place Elon to Williamsburg for an Easter weekend series that was sure to produce some excitement. The Tribe came into the series with one of the top offenses in the CAA, as well as the entire country. The Tribe is third in the conference with 218 runs scored, and the College’s 75 doubles and 16 triples rank 30th and 11th in the country, respectively.

Leading the offensive effort is senior catcher Hunter Smith. The Caldwell, New Jersey native has nine home runs on the year to go with his .314 batting average. He also leads the team in at-bats, runs batted in and slugging percentage. Fellow senior Zach Pearson leads the team in batting average at .328, which ranks him seventh in the CAA. On the mound, the Tribe is led by senior pitcher Bodie Sheehan. Sheehan posts a 2.73 earned run average in his 56 innings pitched on the season, and he tied the school record for starts with his start Saturday afternoon.

Friday, storms ravaged the Williamsburg area and necessitated the postponement, thus forcing a doubleheader Saturday. The first game featured junior pitcher Wade Strain on the mound for the Tribe, facing off against Brnovich for the Phoenix. Continuing the electricity from the previous evening, the College struck first in the second inning with a pair of unearned runs on a fielder’s choice from senior outfielder Owen Socher. However, Elon retaliated in the next inning, tagging Strain for four runs, headlined by a double from infielder Cam Devanney. For the next two innings both teams traded runs and at the end of the fifth inning, the Phoenix led the Tribe, 6-4.

Strain left the game after 4.2 innings, after allowing six runs on five hits. This proved to be a tough outing for the reigning CAA Pitcher of the Week. In the top of the seventh inning, a huge triple from Devanney sparked another rally for the Phoenix, who added two runs to stretch the lead to four. In the bottom of the eighth inning, senior infielder Jason Waldman hit a massive home run to left field to cut the lead to two, and an RBI triple from Trehub brought the Tribe to within one run with just one inning remaining.

Down to their final out, the College stormed back to tie the game in the bottom of the ninth inning when senior infielder Colin Lipke knocked in the tying runs with a single. However, the Phoenix could not be stopped as the 10th inning rolled around. Phoenix utility Ty Adcock sent sophomore Randall Prosperi’s pitch over the left field fence to put the Phoenix ahead 11-9 for a game-winning homer. This was the first extra-inning game on the season for the Tribe.

The second game of the doubleheader produced far less excitement than the first, as the Tribe suffered a low-energy loss, 8-2. Sheehan, making his school-record 54th career start, got off to a rocky start in the second inning, with a bases-loaded walk and fielder’s choice that put the Phoenix up 2-0 early in the game.

After the College tied the game in the bottom of the second inning, Elon added runs in the fourth, sixth and seventh innings to extend the lead to 6-2. Devanney struck again in the ninth inning, with a leadoff double to start a 2-run inning. This would put the Phoenix out of reach, winning the game 8-2. Sheehan lost his second game of the season after giving up six runs in 6.1 innings. For Elon, pitcher George Kirby tossed a gem, striking out 11 batters en route to the victory.

Sunday afternoon, the College dropped the series finale to Elon, 11-2. Freshman pitcher Zach Tsakounis was on the mound for the Tribe, and he struggled mightily, giving up seven runs in 2.1 innings. Smith added to his CAA-leading homerun total with his 10th of the year to stop the bleeding in the bottom of the fourth inning to make it 7-1. However, the Phoenix’s early lead was all they needed, and the Tribe bats went cold to end the dismal weekend.

Elon continuously outplayed the Tribe in all facets of the game. The Tribe looked outmatched against the conference leaders at home, and it will need to rally to play well in the latter half of the season. Some positives from the weekend include the offensive performance in Saturday’s first game, but the bats were uncompetitive the rest of the series.

The Tribe will look to recuperate in the next week, with five road games on tap. Only 11 games remain until the start of the CAA Tournament hosted by James Madison May 22-26. But first, the Tribe will look to bounce back against George Mason Tuesday afternoon at 3 p.m., followed by a matchup in the state capital with Richmond Wednesday.