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Baseball ranked 35th in nation

Phoenix in a tie with College of Charleston near the top of the conference following Tuesday's win; Davidson next

Brian Paglia / Reporter

Elon baseball looks to avoid the drama of its extra-inning victory Tuesday night against Triad rival High Point as they travel to Davidson, N.C. to play the Wildcats this weekend in Southern Conference competition.

Riding on the momentum of the nation's fifth longest winning streak, the Phoenix head into the weekend series at 30-11 (12-3), gaining recognition and top 25 votes along the way.  Davidson is just trying to survive the rest of the season at 14-23 (3-12), but they pose a formidable threat despite their meager place in the SoCon standings.

"They play us tough every time we go down there," head coach Mike Kennedy said.  "To win the league we've got to keep winning.  There are no breaks."

Davidson should be just a warm-up for the home stretch of Elon's schedule. After this weekend, the Phoenix has two games with No. 37 UNC-Wilmington, a respectable opponent in Georgia Southern and conference leader Furman.

The Phoenix must hope their solid pitching staff can quiet the potent bats of a Wildcat offense that hits .301 as a team, fourth in the conference, led by senior Jay Haefner.  He's a hybrid of an athlete, a first team All-SoCon selection both as a hitter (.329, 6 HRs, 28 RBIs) and a pitcher (0-1, 3.18 ERA, 7 saves).

The problem for the Wildcats is that opponents are hitting .336 against them on a staff that posts a 7.57 ERA, good for second worst in the conference. Aside from Haefner, dangerous arms are scarce for Davidson.  Junior Rob Wilson (3-5, 4.50 ERA) gives them one reliable starter, but around him the Phoenix will have every chance to pile up runs.

After a slow start to a season with hefty expectations, senior Grant Rembert and the Phoenix lineup are carrying the team into the conference tournament and a potential invite to the NCAA Regional tournament.

Rembert had three hits Tuesday night against High Point, including a home run and the game-winning single in the bottom of the 11th inning.

With runners at second and third and two outs, Rembert took a 2-2 curveball and sliced it in the left-field gap to give the Phoenix a 7-6 victory.

"That 2-2 pitch I was just thinking stay away," Rembert said.  "I really didn't think that guy had anything to beat me.  I was sitting fastball, but he hung a curveball up there and I was able to put it in the gap."

Down 6-1 by the top of the third inning, the Phoenix scrapped their way back behind another solid performance by the bullpen.  Relievers Kevin Regan, Chad Tilley and Tom Porter combined to throw 4.2 innings of two-hit baseball, halting the Panthers offense that was teasing with the outfield fence the whole night.

But it was a relief for Kennedy to survive through the midweek match-up with a win heading into another conference series.

"Our midweek pitching has not been real good as far as starting pitching's concerned," he said, "and every time we go out there on a Tuesday or Wednesday we find ourselves down three of four runs.  Our hitters have responded and done a great job of battling back and getting us wins."

Contact Brian Paglia at or 278-7247.

Nathan Rode / Photographer

Jordy Snyder and the Phoenix bats have battled their way into the top 35 in the national rankings.

Matt Gannon / Photo Editor

Matt Chastain and the rest of the rotation will take 4.36 collective ERA against a Davidson team at the bottom of the conference standings.