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Elon Baseball wins SoCon tournament crown to earn NCAA berth

The Phoenix learns Monday where it will be seeded in the upcoming NCAA Tournament.

Elon received strong pitching performances and jumped out to an early lead on its way to claiming its second Southern Conference Baseball Tournament title with a 6-5 victory over The Citadel on Sunday at Fluor Field in Greenville, S.C.

The baseball title capped a year in which Phoenix programs won five SoCon titles and five league coach of the year accolades.  With the baseball team advancing to the NCAA Tournament, Elon has now had four teams represented in NCAA post-season play this year.

Elon (32-28) became just the second team to win the tournament crown after dropping its first game of the event.  The Phoenix won five straight games to win the tournament, matching its season-long winning streak.

As has been the norm for Elon in the tournament, the Phoenix fell behind early as The Citadel (35-25) got back-to-back one-out doubles from Hughston Armstrong and Joe Jackson to claim a 1-0 lead in the first inning.

The Phoenix answered The Bulldogs' tally with two of its own in the bottom of the first.  With one out, Alex Swim lined a single to left and then scored on a Ryan Kinsella triple down the right field line.  A two-out double from Casey Jones later plated Kinsella.

Elon's offense stayed hot in the second as Danny Lynch and Chris King started the frame with two singles before Quinn Bower was hit by a pitch with one out to load the bases.  Swim followed with a slow roller to short that erased Bower, but scored Lynch to make it a 3-1 game.  Both King and Swim would later score on a Sebastian Gomez single to right as the maroon and gold built a 5-1 edge after two.

The Phoenix lead stretched to 6-1 in the third when Chris Bresnahan singled off the Green Monster to score Antonio Alvarez.

With runners on first and second and two outs in the top of the fifth, Tyler Griffin lifted a fly ball to left that hooked just out of reach of Jones for a double that pulled The Citadel within three at 6-3.

The Elon lead was whittled down to just a run at 6-5 in the seventh when Jackson tripled home a run and then scored on a Griffin double.

The Citadel threatened in the eighth with runners on first and second with two outs for Jackson.   Spencer Medick dropped in a 3-2 breaking ball that froze Jackson for a called strike three.  It was just the second time Jackson made an out in the tournament.  

Medick then fanned the 4-5-6 hitters in the Bulldog lineup in the ninth to secure the win for the Phoenix.

The win went to Kyle Webb (7-3) who was starting on short rest.  Webb went 6.1 innings and allowed five runs on nine hits while striking out five.  Medick claimed his first save with 2.2 scoreless innings.  He also fanned five.

The loss went to Austin Pritcher (8-3) who gave up six runs (five earned) on eight hits in 2.2 innings.

Five Elon players notched two-hit games -- Swim, Kinsella, Gomez, Jones and Lynch.

Elon will find out where it will be seeded in the upcoming NCAA Tournament in Monday's selection show. The team will gather with fans at The Fat Frogg in Elon for the noon show.

Eric Townsend,
5/26/2013 8:05 PM