Monarch Baseball Continues Early Season Stride

Thomas+Wheeler+%2327+takes+the+plate+and+swings+at+the+incoming+pitch+in+game+three+v+Binghampton.

Nicholas Clark

Thomas Wheeler #27 takes the plate and swings at the incoming pitch in game three v Binghampton.

Art Neal, Sports Writer

The Monarch baseball program continued their 2022 campaign with another home series victory over the Binghamton Bearcats this past weekend. ODU came into the series 3-0 after sweeping Iona last weekend. The Monarchs hoped to continue this early season momentum and get by Binghamton. The Bearcats were another team from New York. 

(Game three) Sam Armstrong #42 gets the call he wants and pitches it to his catcher. (Nicholas Clark)

The first game of the series was an early evening game that started at 5pm and had senior lefty Tommy Gertner toeing the rubber for the Monarchs. Binghamton came out firing as they scored one in the first and two in the second, putting ODU behind 3-0 early. The Monarch staff stopped the Binghamton push in the third but gave way to another Binghamton run, bringing the score to 4-0 in the fourth. The ODU offense had been quiet through the early inning, stranding a handful of runners until a solo bomb (2) by senior Andy Garriola, in the sixth,  provided a spark for the Monarch bats. After this, a hit-by-pitch and double put men on second and third. However, the Monarchs could not capitalize leaving the score 4-1. The innings came to a stalemate for both teams as ODU pitching kept Binghamton from scoring. The Monarch offense fell short of staging a rally and fell to the Bearcats 4-1 on Friday night. 

The second game of the series occurred on Saturday at 5 p.m. and tied the series at 1 between the Monarchs and Bearcats. The Monarch offense was first to strike this time as Garriola hit a sac fly that scored sophomore Kenny Levari from third in the first. The Monarchs would strike twice in the fourth, putting the Monarchs ahead 3-0 headed into the sixth inning thanks to a dominant start from righty redshirt senior Nick Pantos. Pantos tossed five scoreless innings and fanned nine in the process. Binghamton made a push in the sixth as they scored twice, cutting the ODU lead to one 3-2. ODU then put in consistent middle reliever senior Jason Hartline. The tall lefty got out of the jam in the sixth and shut down the Bearcat offense, tallying eight strikeouts in his three ⅔ innings. The Monarchs would then respond to this threat by tallying two of their own in the sixth, bringing the score to 5-2 and putting the game

(Game three) Brock Gagliardi #10 protects home plate as the Bearcats try to bring in the run. (Nicholas Clark)

out of reach for Binghamton. 

The final game, and tiebreaker, came as a Sunday afternoon game with the first pitch at 1pm. Sophomore right hander Sam Armstrong got the nod and started the day with a 1-2-3 first inning on an efficient six pitches. Binghamton came out ready to play and put up an early run to lead 1-0. In the fourth inning, Binghamton increased their lead up to four before the ODU offense got on the board off a double from senior Tommy Bell. The luck continued to be in the Bearcats favor as they scored three more times in the seventh inning, bringing the score to 7-1. The Monarchs, however, would not go quietly in their half of the frame, as they would go on to score four in the inning, bringing the lead within striking distance at 7-5. ODU would continue their late game push and attack of Binghamton pitching in the Eighth as Levari walked and sophomore Carter Trice would bring the runners in with his stand-up triple. This would bring the game within one at 7-6 Binghamton. As the Bearcat pitching staff faced the heart of the Monarch batting lineup, things would go from bad to worse as slugger Garriola would demolish a ball over the left field wall, giving ODU the lead 8-7. Ironically, this ball was hit well over the left field wall and actually came quite close to colliding with the Binghamton charter bus set to drive them home. 

(Game Three) Brock Gagliardi #10 rounds the bases after the ball is hit. (Nicholas Clark)

As the final inning came, ODU held a ton of momentum as they had just scored seven unanswered runs in the two previous innings and had a chance to clinch the game and the series. To assure their win, the Monarch pitching staff called on their flame thrower Noah Dean. The Lefty Redshirt sophomore emphatically shut the door on the Bearcat offense as he retired them in order in the ninth on nine pitches and his fastball topped at 96 mph. This earned him his first save of the season. This was a statement win for the Monarchs as it clinched them the weekend series and brought their record to 5-1. 

ODU will begin their fight against strong in-state competition on Tuesday, March 1, as they take on VCU at The Diamond in Richmond. They then come back to The Bud as they host Bryant University March 4, 5 and 6. Looking forward, ODU will start their C-USA play with an away series at Middle Tennessee March 18, 19 and 20.