ODU Baseball Began Their 2022 Reign with Series-Sweep over Iona

ODU+tries+to+advance+runners+with+a+bunt+in+Game+one+against+Iona

Elena Harris

ODU tries to advance runners with a bunt in Game one against Iona

Art Neal, Sports Writer

It is finally baseball season again and the first week of NCAA Division 1 has kicked off. The Old Dominion baseball team was back on the diamond again, as they welcomed in Iona for the first series of the 2022 season. Last year, the ODU baseball program took strides as they were former Conference USA champions, ranked in the Top-25 for the majority of the season and also made a deep postseason run in the NCAA Tournament. They would lose to Virginia in the Super Regionals Final and their historic season came to an end. The Monarchs returned most of its members from last year’s team and were ready to continue their stride into the 2022 season. Old Dominion started the season ranked 24th in the nation. 

Joey Rodriguez #51 throws a pitch in game one against Iona (Elena Harris )

In game one, senior left-hander Tommy Gertner took the mound for the first pitch of the 2022 campaign. Gertner made a strong start as he retired the first three Gaels in order to stunt the Iona offense in the top of the first. The Monarch offense was also quiet in the first inning as they were retired in order. In the top of the second, Iona struck first, when they hit a fielder’s choice to the third baseman that got the runner in from third that put the Gaels up 1-0. The Monarchs were not able to get the bats going early on. In the top of the fourth, the Gaels got the first hit of the ballgame that got runners into scoring position. The ODU defense would stand tough by getting out of the jam. In the top half of the fifth, ODU made a pitching change to sophomore right-hander Joey Rodriguez. The Monarch offense would come alive in the bottom half of the fifth as Iona walked two Monarchs on eight-straight balls.  Junior Thomas Wheeler then drove in both runners as he scorched a ball off the second baseman’s glove and into right field giving ODU the 2-1 lead. Wheeler then stole both second and third base and the Gaels then decided that it was time for a pitching change. On the next at-bat,  Trice brought Wheeler in off a base hit to extend it to 3-1. The Monarchs would strike again in the inning to lead 4-1 going into the sixth. ODU would continue to stout the Gaels offense until they were able to hit it into the outfield gap that cut the deficit to two. Old Dominion would go onto winning game one 4-2 over Iona.

In the second game, the Monarchs had a change in scenery in the batter’s box. Senior right-hander Nick Pantos got the nod for starting pitcher. Pantos got out of the top half of the first pretty easily and in the bottom half of the inning, ODU brought in four runs to take an early advantage. The ODU offense struck four times in the first inning

Old Dominion dominates in the batters box midway through game one (Elena Harris )

batting all the way through the lineup. Trice would be the first Monarch to hit a home run for ODU this season when he launched a ball over the left field wall making it 5-0.  By third inning the ODU lead had ballooned to half a dozen with no indication of slowing down. The rest of the Monarchs continued to attack in the batter’s box and later in the game, sophomore James Tarkenton II, who was making his collegiate debut, hit a three-run bomb over the left-field wall that extended the ODU lead. The Old Dominion team did not hesitate in pouring the runs on Iona as they would win game two decisively 24-0 over the Gaels. The ODU pitching dominance continued through this game as they blanked the Iona offense with only six hits allowed that helped give  the Monarchs 2-0 lead in the weekend series. 

In the final game on Sunday afternoon, the Old Dominion bats continued to shine. Early on, the Gaels would take an early lead after a solo home run. The Monarch offense would regain the lead and begin to pull away. ODU took a 3-1 advantage thanks to an Iona error at second base, later in the third inning, the Monarchs tallied two more runs that gave them a 5-1 lead. By the time the end of the fifth inning was over, the Old Dominion lead was already in double digits. The pitching for ODU was stellar throughout the weekend as the Monarchs would continue its dominance on the Gaels offensive attack. As ODU led 12-1, they would earn more runs later in the matchup that would propel them to 19 runs with Levari leading the way with four runs batted in(RBI’s). The Monarch bullpen continued their dominance with lefties freshman Blake Morgan and sophomores Noah Dean, Vincent Bashara and Redshirt Junior Brad Dobzanski, who all tossed scoreless innings against the Gaels. Old Dominion would win game three 19-1 as they held the Gaels to two total hits to the ODU 16 hits. The Monarchs outscored Iona 47-3 throughout the entire weekend, which is a dominant performance by the ODU team. 

The ODU dugout gives the thumbs up after runners get on base. (Elena Harris )

When asked about the final game of the series head coach Chris Finwood mentioned that his team were in the right mindset and that everyone was doing their part. He also stated how there is much to improve on and that their focus shifts towards their next opponent. “We came out really focused today. Sam Armstrong gave us a really good start, striking out seven and walking no one in five innings. Then the bullpen came in and really threw the ball well,” Finwood stated.  “Hitting wise, we took advantage of their walks, manufactured some runs early and then got the bats going. We also played errorless baseball the entire weekend, which always pleases me, but we got lots of things to work on. We’ll get back to work and get ready for Binghamton.”

The Monarchs started the season on a dominant note and improved their record to 3-0. ODU will return to action this weekend when they host Binghampton at Bud Metheny Field. Game One is slated for Friday, Feb. 25 at 3pm. Game two is slated for Saturday, Feb. 26 at 2pm. The final game of the series will be on Sunday, Feb. 27 with first pitch being at 1pm.