May 7, 2012
Elon, N.C. - Jacob Hoyle blasted a two-run home run in the top of the eighth inning as Western Carolina clawed back to within a run of homestanding Elon on Monday afternoon at Latham Park, 5-4. However, an error-filled bottom of the frame allowed the Phoenix to push across six insurance runs, holding off the Catamounts for an 11-4 victory in Southern Conference play to salvage one in the three-game series.
Hoyle finished 3-for-4 with his third home run of the season, driving in three runs to give him a team-leading 42 RBI on the season. Senior Ross Heffley doubled as a part of a 2-for-4 showing at the plate, walking once and scoring two runs. The two combined for five of the seven Catamount hits on the day.
Elon (28-23, 17-10 SoCon) jumped out to an early 5-0 lead through the first three frames and later put the game out of reach with a six-run eighth. Jake Luce scored the game's first run on a RBI ground out by Ryan Kinsella in the bottom of the first inning. The Phoenix added three runs in the second and a single run in the third when Michael Elefante belted the first homer of his career.
WCU trimmed the margin back to four as Heffley drew a lead-off walk and scored on a RBI single by Hoyle in the top of the fourth inning. One frame later, freshman Bradley Strong singled through the right side and was later plated on a RBI single through the left side by Heffley to make it 5-2 through five.
In the eighth inning, Heffley doubled to left centerfield to lead off the inning. Tyler White flew out to center field ahead of Hoyle who blasted a 1-1 pitch over the fence in right centerfield for a one-out home run. The next batter, Adam Martin, put a charge into a fly ball to right center as the next batter, but ended up flying out. Pinch hitter Bryant Noteboom was plunked by a pitch to put two aboard for freshman Dale Urquhart Jr. who had driven in four on the weekend prior. However, reliever Nate Young got the rookie to strikeout to end the threat.
Holding a 5-4 lead going into the last of the eighth inning, Elon capitalized on three WCU errors and four hits to surge ahead, 11-4. Joey Tomko got things started with a single up the middle and then went to third when the throw to first on Casey Jones' bunt single was wide. With one out, Eric Serra put down a squeeze bunt to make it 6-4 and was safe at first on the second Catamount error of the frame. The wild throw allowed Jones to also score and Serra wound up at third base. Quinn Bower's double to right-center drove home Serra as the Phoenix grabbed an 8-4 edge. The Phoenix added runs on yet another error, an Alex Swim sacrifice fly and a Kinsella single to build the final margin.
Catamount starter freshman Jeremy Null (4-3) took the loss for the Catamounts, lasting six and two thirds innings and allowing five runs - only two of which were earned - on four hits. The Claremont, N.C., native struck out four against one walk with a pair of hit batters. He was one of six pitchers used by WCU on the day.
Elon's David Whitehead (4-3) won after allowing four runs on seven hits in 7.2 innings. Reliever Nate Young threw the final 1.1 frames to claim his eighth save of the season.
Western Carolina returns to action this weekend as it travels to Statesboro, Ga., to face Georgia Southern for a three-game league series. The Catamounts stand in fifth place in the league, two games ahead of the Eagles in sixth entering the three-game series.