NORFOLK, Va. — Kenny Levari hit a go-ahead home run in the eighth inning, Vincent Bashara and Joey DeChiaro made a couple of key defensive plays late and the Old Dominion baseball team earned a 7-6 win over Georgia State on what marked Senior Day for the Monarchs.
"Guys hung in there and stayed in the game. Finally got a couple of big hits and I'm proud of how we pitched all weekend," said head coach Chris Finwood.
GSU led for most of the game and was up 6-3 midway through the sixth, but the Monarchs (32-22, 15-15 Sun Belt) were able to pull even with three runs in the home half of the inning. Josh Trujillo and Levari both walked to put runners on first and second with two outs. The Panthers (29-27, 16-14) made a call to the pen and Hunter Fitz-Gerald greeted the new hurler with a three-run homer to just right of the scoreboard.
GSU threatened to retake the lead in the top of the eighth. After a pair of singles and a wild pitch moved runners into scoring position, ODU elected to intentionally walk Will Mize to set up the double play. That proved to be the right decision as Luke Boynton hit a soft grounder back to Bashara. The junior from Norfolk, Virginia threw to Robbie O'Neal for the force out at home, and O'Neal fired to Fitz-Gerald at first in time to complete the twin killing.
In the bottom of the eighth, Levari connected on a 2-2 pitch as his sixth homer of the season gave ODU the lead, 7-6. The Monarchs then brought in DeChiaro in the top of the ninth. After a leadoff single by Matt Ruiz, Jojo Jackson hit a ground ball to Chris Dengler at second. The Monarchs weren't able to cover first in time to get Jackson, but DeChiaro's throw across the diamond was in time for Levari to tag out Ruiz at third. DeChiaro struck out the next batter and induced a pop up to Dengler to end the game.
Bashara (4-0) earned the win and DeChiaro secured his second save of the season. Fitz-Gerald (2-for-4) scored twice and added a double and a walk to his totals. Kyle Edwards doubled in a 2-for-5 effort and Alex Bouche hit 2-for-3, drove in a run, walked and was hit by a pitch. Levari (1-for-4) scored two runs with one base on balls, Jay Tarkenton also homered and finished 1-for-4, and Camden Grimes and Trujillo turned in a pair of 1-for-3 outings.
The Panthers scored a run in the top of the first as Cameron Jones doubled to left, stole third and came around on a Mize single to first. A two-run shot from Dalton Pearson in the second pushed the GSU lead to 3-0. The visitors turned a 4-6-3 double play in the bottom of the second, but Grimes scored from third for ODU's first run. The Monarchs plated another run in the third inning as Fitz-Gerald doubled and was waved home on a Bouche single to right field.
GSU went up 5-2 thanks to four-straight singles in the top of the fifth. A two-out Tarkenton homer in ODU's next turn at the plate cut the deficit to 5-3, but Max Ryerson answered with a solo shot of his own in the top of the sixth.
The Monarchs earned the No. 10 seed for the 2023 Sun Belt Conference Championship next week in Montgomery, Alabama. ODU will play in a single-elimination game against seventh-seeded James Madison on Tuesday, May 23 at Riverwalk Stadium. First pitch is scheduled for 4 p.m. ET.