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#24 Monarchs have 6 game win streak doused by Flames

Liberty built an early 6-0 lead and frustrated Old Dominion baseball's hitters all game as the Monarchs fell 9-5 on Wednesday night.

NORFOLK, Va. — Liberty built an early 6-0 lead and frustrated Old Dominion baseball's hitters all game as the Monarchs fell 9-5 on Wednesday night at Bud Metheny Ballpark.

"We got our butts whipped tonight," head coach Chris Finwood said afterwards. "We gave them 13 free base runners and struck out 14 times. Just didn't play well enough to beat a good team like Liberty."

Ben Moore (2-1) received the loss in what was his first collegiate start. The freshman from Frederick, Maryland was tagged for two runs on four hits and a pair of walks. He added two strikeouts in two complete innings. ODU used a total of seven pitchers in the midweek game, with Trent Buchanan, Landen Burch, Jacob Gomez, Vincent Bashara, Ron Cole and Kyle Scrape all coming out of the pen. The group issued a combined nine walks with four hit batters.

Camden Grimes homered twice and drove in three runs to lead the Monarchs (18-3) with a 2-for-3 effort at the plate. Luke Waters also collected multiple hits, finishing 2-for-5. Kenny Levari (1-for-3) doubled, scored two runs and walked once, Logan Duffy (1-for-1) drove in a run in his lone at bat, and Jake Ticer went 1-for-4.

The Flames (9-11) pushed across two runs in the top half of the second. Jake Lazzaro walked and moved to third on a Jaylen Guy double to left, then came around on a Kane Kepley ground out to second. Nathan Keeter followed with an RBI base-hit to left and the visitors took the early 2-0 lead.

Liberty did some more damage in the third. Though the Monarchs retired the first two batters, a pair of walks and a hit batter loaded the bases. Keeter then wore a pitch for the 3-0 lead, and a wild pitch allowed another Flames runner to cross the plate. Gray Betts then singled in two more runners to push the Liberty lead to 6-0.

Grimes got ODU on the board in the bottom of the fourth with a two-out, two-run shot to left field, but Liberty responded with a three-run top of the sixth. Another three walks ran the bags full with one away, and a Brayden Horton fly out to left was deep enough for the runner at third to tag up on. Lazzaro then found a hole in the right side of the Monarch defense to drive in two more runs as the Flames went up 9-2.

Grimes homered again in the seventh, this time a leadoff solo shot to left. ODU scratched across a couple of runs in the bottom of the ninth, but couldn't close the gap any more. Levari and Thomas Wheeler both walked before Duffy entered the game as a pinch hitter, and he singled to left as Levari was waved home on the play. Kyle Edwards then reached on a fielder's choice as the Flames took the force out at second, and Wheeler scored from third on a Liberty wild pitch to round out the scoring.

Tonight's game was the first in a home-and-home series between ODU and Liberty this season. The two teams will meet again in Lynchburg, Virginia on May 3.

"We will learn from this and grow and get back to work to get ready for Marshall this weekend in a big Sun Belt conference series for us," added Finwood.

The Monarchs host The Herd for three games at The Bud this weekend, beginning with a 6 p.m. opener on Friday. Game Two is scheduled for Saturday at 3 p.m., and Sunday is set for a 1 p.m. first pitch.

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