ELON, N.C. (Mar. 26, 2004) -- East Tennessee State had runners in scoring position with one out in both the eighth and ninth innings, but could not push the tying run across as Elon defeated the Bucs, 4-3, in the opener of a SoCon weekend series Friday afternoon from Latham Park in Elon, N.C.
The Phoenix (12-15, 7-3 Southern Conference) got on the board first, scoring a run in the bottom of the first. Phoenix center fielder Evan Tartaglia reached on a fielder's choice with one out then scored on a two-out double by designated hitter Chris Price.
Elon extended their lead to 3-0 with single runs in the fourth and fifth innings. With one out in the fourth, third baseman Evan Erickson hit a solo homer over the right field wall.
The Phoenix manufactured a run in the fifth, as Tartaglia led off the inning with a single, moved to second on a ground out by first baseman Drew Davis and advanced to third on a fly out by Price. He then crossed the plate on a single up the middle by right fielder Grant Rembert.
ETSU (12-15, 3-7 SoCon) tied the game by playing longball in the top of the sixth. Sophomore right fielder Shane Byrne (Johnson City, Tenn.) led off the frame with a home run over the right-center field wall. Junior catcher Caleb Moore (Knoxville, Tenn.) followed with a double, and was on base as sophomore first baseman Blake Church (Roswell, Ga.) hit a two-run homer to left.
But Elon fought right back, breaking the tie with a single run in the bottom of the sixth. Shortstop Paul Bennett began a two-out rally by walking and stealing second. Second baseman Gary Morris then singled up the middle to bring home Bennett with the eventual winning run.
In the top of the eighth, Church hit a one-out single and advanced to second on a wild pitch. But Elon reliever Matt Chastain got the next two ETSU batters to ground out to end the inning.
Sophomore designated hitter Steven Calicutt (Spartanburg, S.C.) led off the ninth with a single, and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by sophomore third baseman Greg Roberts (Douglas, Ga.). But Chastain stepped up again, getting the final two outs on ground outs to short.
Matt Garner (3-2) earned the win for Elon, going the first six innings and allowing three runs on six hits. He also struck out five while walking one. Chastain got his first save of the year, pitching the final three innings and giving up two hits and striking out one.
Buccaneer sophomore righty Jeremy Hall (Gray, Tenn.) pitched well but was charged with the loss (4-4). Hall scattered 11 hits over seven innings while walking three and striking out two.
The Bucs were led at the plate by Moore and Church, who both went 3-for-4 this afternoon. Morris, Davis and left fielder Tyler Stevens paced the Phoenix with two hits.
ETSU and Elon return to the diamond Saturday afternoon at 1:30 p.m. for game two of their three-game series from Latham Park in Elon, N.C.