NORFOLK, Va. — A Marshall miscue in the bottom of the fourth inning helped Old Dominion baseball break open what had been a pitcher's duel as the Monarchs took the Sunday rubber match, 12-2 for a 2-1 Sun Belt series victory.
Bailey Matela (3-0) picked up the win after tossing 2.1 scoreless frames in relief. He faced eight batters, holding the Herd (11-10, 2-4 Sun Belt) to one hit and one walk with one strikeout. Starter Dylan Brown scattered four hits through 4.2 innings, did not issue a walk, and recorded four strikeouts, one shy of his season best. Also coming out of the pen were Trent Buchanan, Ron Cole, and Joey DeChiaro.
The Monarchs (20-4, 5-1) outhit their opponent 12-9 on the afternoon. Luke Waters (3-for-5) tripled, scored twice, drove in a run, and swiped a bag. Camden Grimes (2-for-3) contributed a pair of doubles with one RBI and one walk. Also finishing 2-for-3 was Alex Bouche, who collected one double, came around twice, and had one base on balls.
Hunter Fitz-Gerald (1-for-5) hit ODU's lone home run of the day, a two-run blast in the sixth, and added two runs to his totals. The team's other hits came from Jay Tarkenton (1-for-1), Jake Ticer (1-for-3), Kenny Levari (1-for-3), and Thomas Wheeler (1-for-5).
"I was really proud of how we played these last two days," said head coach Chris Finwood. "We faced three really good arms today and had our best approach offensively of the season with lots of big two-strike hits to expand the lead. Dylan Brown continues to improve on the mound each time out and gave us a really solid start today. We have a real tough week in front of us and it was nice to start it off with a series victory."
Both sides had opportunities to score in the early going, but both teams came up empty. In the bottom of the first, Grimes doubled to right field with one out, but Marshall retired the next two Monarch batters. Marshall's Carinci had a two-out double in the top of the second, but Brown fooled Noble to keep it a scoreless game.
After Lucio was left stranded at second in the top of the third, Chris Dengler drew a one-out walk in the bottom half of the frame. The junior from Charleston, South Carolina stole second and moved up to third on a Waters single to right field, but ODU was unable to bring him the final 90 feet to home.
Marshall's Zac Addkison (1-4) was the first starting pitcher to flinch as he walked the first three batters he faced in the fourth. An RBI fielder's choice by Wheeler opened the scoring as the Herd could not complete a 6-4-3 double play, allowing Bouche to come home on the play.
After Wheeler stole second, Dengler hit a ground ball that Marshall second baseman Lucio couldn't handle. The error allowed Ticer and Wheeler to score for the 3-0 advantage. Waters tripled down the first-base line for the 4-0 lead, then raced home on a wild pitch to give the Monarchs a 5-0 lead.
The Herd looked like it might answer with two outs and the bases loaded in the top of the fifth, but Matela induced a pop up behind home plate that Robbie O'Neal bobbled but held on to near the Marshall on-deck circle.
ODU then added to its lead with another four runs on six hits and an error in the sixth. With one out, Waters reached on a bunt single and proceeded to steal second. The throw by the Marshall catcher went into the outfield, allowing Waters to advance to third.
He scored on a Grimes double to right before Trujillo entered the game as a pinch runner and stole third. Fitz-Gerald sent a 1-1 pitch over the wall in left field as his 12th round-tripper of the season pushed the ODU lead to 8-0. Bouche followed with a double to the gap in left and he made it 9-0 as he was waved home on Ticer's base hit to right.
Marshall put together four hits in the top of the eighth to break up the shutout with a pair of runs, but ODU answered with another three runs to end the game by mercy rule. With no outs and runners on first and second, Tarkenton singled through the right side to drive in a run. After Kyle Edwards tagged up on a Levari sacrifice fly to right center, Tarkenton advanced to second on a wild pitch and reached third on a balk. He then scored the final run as Wheeler grounded out to second.
After this weekend, ODU now leads Marshall 22-9 in the all-time series.
Next for the Monarchs is a trip to Charlottesville, Virginia this Tuesday for a 5 p.m. meeting with Virginia. The Cavaliers (22-2, 7-2 ACC) were ranked seventh by both Baseball America and the NCBWA last week and are eighth in the latest D1Baseball poll. Sunday saw them complete an ACC series sweep of Florida State.