ODU Baseball Avoids Series Sweep in Walk-Off Against Charlotte


Nicholas Clark

Old Dominion takes helm at the plate and let the bats fly as the ball is incoming.


Old Dominion comes back for a home weekend series with the Charlotte Niners. This is their second in the conference series and will be talent-packed with both teams being ranked in the top 25 teams in the nation last year. Old Dominion comes into series 17-2 and 2-1 in C-USA play while Charlotte enters 14-6 and 2-1 in C-USA play respectively. 

#34 graduate student Brett Smith goes through with his pitch in game three against Charlotte. (Nicholas Clark)

The first game of the series commenced on Friday, March 25 at 6pm. Senior Lefty Tommy Gertner toed the rubber ODU as their starter. Charlotte jumped out to an early lead when they tacked on five runs in their half of the first inning. The Monarchs cut into the Niner lead in the first with a solo home run from senior Tommy Bell, making it 5-1 through one. Charlotte continued their push as they steadily tacked on runs, including two in the ninth inning. Old Dominion had solid performers, including home runs from four different Monarchs (Trice, Garriola, Bell and Petracci), but all of these came as solo home runs and caused the Monarchs to fall 11-4 on Friday. 

When asked about the game, Coach Finwood commented, “It was just one of those nights… They deserved to win. They certainly outplayed us. They outplayed us in every phase of the game.” On a more positive note, when asked about the pitching of his relievers, Finwood stated, “If you get behind by that much on Friday, it’s tough because you don’t want to burn up your bullpen. You don’t want to use the guys you need when you’re winning, because you have two more games to play.”

#11 senior Tommy Bell reacts to the base hit into his direction as he tries to get the runner out in game three against Charlotte. (Nicholas Clark )

The second game of the series occurred on Saturday, March 26 at 3pm. The Monarchs started Righty Redshirt senior Nick Pantos. The Monarch offense was hot early as sophomore Carter Trice flew out to bring in Bell for a score in the first. Senior Matt Coutney then homered in his next at-bat to give ODU a 3-0 lead at the end of the second inning. The Charlotte offense scored once in the fourth before Pantos got out of a first and third jam. The Niners expanded their lead in the fifth, sixth and seventh, ballooning their lead to 13-4. The Monarchs, however, still had some fight left in them. In the bottom of the eighth, Coutney added to his dominant day as he saw another ball leave the park and brought the score to 13-5. The Monarchs would continue their push down to the last out as they put up three runs in the bottom of the ninth off a double by sophomore Kenny Levari and a single by senior Andy Garriola. Sadly, this would be where the offense would stop as the game would end with a score of 13-8 in favor of Charlotte. 

When asked about the second game of their homestand, Monarch’s head coach stated: “We swung the bats a little better today than we did Friday. We just need to get more timely hits.” Finwood was also critical of the Monarch pitching staff after giving up 12 walks, and he commented, “You’re not going to win games when you give good teams 12 free baserunners like we did today.”

#4 sophomore Carter Trice steps up to the batters box in game three against Charlotte. (Nicholas Clark)

The third game of the series was a must-win game to avoid a sweep of the series by Charlotte, and the Monarchs rose to the challenge. The Monarchs gave the nod to sophomore Sam Armstrong to start the Sunday afternoon game. The ODU offense made their name and intentions known early as they jumped out to a 5-0 lead through three innings, thanks to a double by sophomore Robbie Petracci and homers by Coutney and senior outfielder Thomas Wheeler. Charlotte cut into the Monarch lead with a two-run homer, making the score 5-2. ODU finally found some rhythm and began to get the bats going as they brought in four more runs to make the game 9-2. The Monarch pitching staff continued to struggle in the fifth as the Niners scored ten straight runs in the inning, bringing them back into the game with the score now coming to 12-9. The Monarchs, however, did not back down and scored in the fifth and eighth, tying the score at 12 going into the ninth inning. At this point in the game, the Monarchs leaned on their flame-throwing Lefty Noah Dean to hold the Niners and keep the Monarchs in the game. Dean did not disappoint as he pitched 31/3 scoreless innings, giving way to one hit and sitting down six by strikeout. With the score still tied at 12 going into the bottom of the tenth, heavy hitter Garriola stepped into the box and sent Monarch fans home happy as he scorched a ball over the right-field wall, which would be enough for the Monarchs to take the third game and avoid the Charlotte sweep. 

The Monarchs continued their home stint as they hosted the Campbell Camels on Tuesday evening. They were up on the Camels till the later innings when Campbell brought in late runs to take the lead in the 8th inning. The Monarchs could not retaliate and wound up losing 8-6 against Campbell. Next up for ODU is another conference series, and this weekend series will be against Florida International University in sunny Miami, Florida on April 1-3. Later into the month, Old Dominion will face East Carolina, a team who they bested on a game-ending walk on their home turf in Greenville, North Carolina on Tuesday, April 5. The Monarchs also will travel to Charlottesville, VA to duel with the nationally-ranked Virginia Cavaliers on April 12.