Casey Jones drove in five runs and Lucas Bakker worked around several Citadel threats in eight innings on the mound, giving Elon a 6-3 victory over the Bulldogs in the opening game of a Southern Conference series Friday at Latham Park.
The Phoenix improved to 15-10 overall and 4-3 in the SoCon while defeating The Citadel (12-15, 1-6) for the 11th time in the past 12 meetings. The teams are scheduled to play the middle game Saturday at 4 p.m., but that is in doubt due to the likelihood of rain in the Elon area.
Jones began his offensive exploits in the third when he broke up an early pitching duel between Bakker andLogan Cribb with a three-run homer to left to give Elon a 3-0 lead. Jones added an RBI ground out in the fifth and then set a new career high with a double in the seventh that built the Phoenix margin to 5-3.
Jones is the first Citadel opponent to drive in five runs in a game since Michael Russell of North Carolina did so last May 1.
Bakker, who entered the game leading the SoCon with a 1.05 ERA while garnering a pair of league pitcher of the week honors, surrendered eight hits but was able to hold the Bulldogs to only single runs in each of the middle three innings. He walked one and struck out five in upping his record to 5-1.
Following Jones' home run, The Citadel got one run back in the fourth on a sacrifice fly by Drew DeKerlegand, but Bo Thompson was thrown out at plate trying to score on a double to right by Calvin Orth. Johnathan Stokessingled to lead off the fifth, his second of three hits on the day, and scored on a ground out to trim the Elon lead to 3-2.
The Bulldog run in the fourth ended a streak of 29.2 consecutive innings without allowing an earned run by Bakker. The eight hits by The Citadel tied for the most the junior college transfer has allowed in his debut season at Elon.
The Phoenix loaded the bases in the bottom of the fifth, but Cribb limited the damage by allowing just one run on the Jones ground out. The Bulldogs got that run back in the sixth when Ryan Kilgallen was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded, but pinch hitter Connor Walsh popped out to allow Elon to escape the inning with a one-run lead.
Elon scored a pair of insurance runs in the seventh to make it 6-3. The Bulldogs put two runners on in the eighth against Bakker, and Mason Davis singled with one out in the ninth off closer Ryan Pennell, but The Citadel couldn't dent the plate in either frame.
Cribb worked five innings and gave up six hits and four runs, walked three and struck out four. Zach Sherrilland Zach McKay both fanned two batters out of the bullpen, with McKay working a perfect eighth.
Sherrill was making the 94th appearance of his career, moving the junior sidearmer into a tie for sixth with Justin Smith in school history.