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Phoenix fan the flame, top GSU 10-3

ELON, N.C. –  The Elon Phoenix were held scoreless for only three innings as the Southern Conference team steadily built its lead to the final 10-3 margin over Georgia Southern Friday night (April 9) at Latham Park.

Jimmy Reyes (4-3) picked up the win throwing seven complete innings, surrendering only one run on five hits. Eagle starter Jake Brown drew the loss (4-4) with 5.1 innings recorded allowing eight hits and four runs.

Elon (21-10, 9-4) capitalized on an early threat loading the bases in the bottom of the first with one out on a Neal Pritchard hit batsman after back-to-back singles. Ryan Adams drew a walk to plate Swim as the Phoenix took a 1-0 lead to open the ballgame. On the next batter, Wirnsberger robbed Seth Canipe and the Phoenix of two runs on a line drive double play to end the inning.

Three hits in the second were enough to push Elon’s advantage to 2-0. Matt Hinson led off with a single to left field before Brown retired the next two batters on a fly out and strikeout. A single to shortstop from Justin Hilt moved Hinson to third after a stolen base put him on second. An RBI single to center off the bat of Swim gave the Phoenix a two-run cushion before Brown closed out the inning with a fly out from Mike Melillo.

Georgia Southern (15-15, 7-6) put a runner in scoring position for the first time in the fourth inning as Wirnsberger doubled to right center with two outs. Phillips singled through the right side to plate Wirnsberger and slice the Eagles’ deficit in half, 2-1, but was thrown out at second to end the inning.

Elon took the run back in the home half of the frame. After seven straight retired batters, Elon’s offense came alive to plate a run and push the score back out to a two-run contest, 3-1. A single and balk put Swim on second base before Melillo singled through the right side to drive in Swim. The Phoenix had a potential run on third two batters later, but Brown worked his way out of the jam as Elon stranded two runners on base.

The Eagles put runners on first and second in the top of the sixth with a Kevin Bowles double and Kyle Blackburn walk, but both were left in position when Reyes forced a fly ball and ground out to cap the threat.

Colin Snow relieved Brown in the sixth, but not before Elon posted another run on the board. A free pass to Hinson turned into an earned run when the senior was forced out at second allowing Scott Riddle to reach on a fielder’s choice. Riddle stole second, reached third on a wild pitch and scored on a groundout to first unassisted by Harry Austin to make the score 4-1.

 Nine batters were sent to the plate in the seventh inning that produced six runs on five hits for the Phoenix. With bases loaded and no outs, a three-run RBI double to right center from Adams cleared the bases and chased Snow from the game as the score stood at 7-1. Elon put the eighth run on the scoreboard on a Hinson single that drove in pinch runner Matt Kirchner from second. Riddle followed a batter later with a two-run shot to center field for his first collegiate home run as Elon took a 10-1 lead.

Georgia Southern added two runs in the eighth. After a line out to third base from Arthur Owens, Bowles took first as a hit batsman. Despite the infield’s shift to the right with Blackburn at the plate, the senior lined a single up the middle as Wirnsberger followed with a single to center loading the bases with one out costing the Phoenix three pitchers. Phillips walked to give GS its second run which was followed by a throwing error by the catcher to first base on a failed pickoff attempt that allowed Blackburn to score for a 10-3 score. A double play groundout ended the inning, but after Elon was forced to use four pitchers.

Both teams put a runner on base in the next frames, but both were left as Elon closed out the contest 10-3.

The conference foes continue this three-game series on Saturday, April 10. First pitch is slated for 4 p.m. at Latham Park.