ODU Baseball Defeated Against Liberty 9-5; Hosts Marshall This Weekend


Bruce Butler, ODU Athletics

Sophomore Luke Waters takes his lead off of first base while looking on at the at-bat.

By Benjamin Draper, Sports Editor

It was too little, too late for the Monarchs baseball team to overcome a 6-0 run deficit and they dropped their mid-week matchup against Liberty University 9-5. After sweeping Louisiana Monroe last weekend, ODU 18-3 (3-0 Sun Belt) returned home with six straight wins for their first home-and-home matchup against the Flames 9-11 (1-2 ASUN) this season. Later in the season (May 3), these two teams will meet again in Lynchburg, VA for the second matchup of the home-and-home series.

After a quick first inning, Liberty struck first in the top half of the second inning. A walk and a double down left field got the pair of baserunners into scoring position for the Flames. On the ensuing at-bat, Liberty struck a single into left field that gave them the 2-0 advantage. 

It wasn’t until the third inning when the Liberty bats began to come loose. Before the inning, head coach Chris Finwood made a rotation at pitcher as the freshman starter Ben Moore was relieved for junior right-handed pitcher Trent Buchanan. Though the Monarchs were able to retire the first two batters in the frame, Buchanan walked the next pair of Liberty batters while hitting another player in the at-bat to load the bases. With the bases loaded, Buchanan tagged another batter in the box and advanced the runner from third for another Liberty score. Buchanan was then taken out of the game for freshman right-hander Landen Burch. 

Burch came in and threw a wild pitch against his first batter that advanced the runners into scoring position. The Flames struck two more runs in the next at-bat after a single to right field brought the baserunners in. After tallying four runs in the top of the third, the Monarchs were able to secure the final out to escape the inning. 

It wasn’t until the bottom of the fourth when the Monarchs found some rhythm with their bats and got on the scoreboard. To begin the inning, junior Jake Ticer struck out before freshman Alex Bouche was hit by the pitch to get a runner on base. On the ensuing at-bat, junior Kenny Levari hit a groundball to shortstop but due to fielder’s choice at second base, Levari was safe at first while Bouche was out. At the next at-bat, Levari advanced to second base due to a wild pitch, but it’s what came after that brought the game within four. With a full count, senior Camden Grimes blasted the ball over the left field wall to make it 6-2 Liberty. 

After a scoreless fifth inning on both sides, the game remained 6-2, but the Flames would tally on three more runs in the top of the sixth inning to extend their advantage to seven runs. The Monarchs were held scoreless in the bottom of the frame, but in the seventh inning in the first at-bat, Grimes blasted another home run to cut the lead down to 9-3. ODU had a hard time getting any production going in the batter’s box and the score remained the same through the eighth inning. 

In the bottom of the ninth, the Monarchs tried to put together a last-ditch effort against their Commonwealth foe. Levari and senior Thomas Wheeler both got onto base thanks to being walked. Freshman Logan Duffy was called upon to pinch hit for junior Robbie O’Neal, who struck a single down left field to advance Wheeler to second while bringing in Levari for an ODU run. Later in the inning, Wheeler reached home plate after a wild pitch to cut the game to 9-5, but on the next at-bat, sophomore Luke Waters grounded out for the final out of the game. 

Moore (2-1) received the defeat in his first collegiate start. He was tagged for two runs on four hits and a pair of walks and strikeouts in two innings pitched. ODU used a total of seven pitchers throughout the contest that included Moore, Buchanan, Burch, and junior pitchers Jacob Gomez, Vincent Bashara, Ron Cole and Kyle Scrape. The group of pitchers issued nine walks altogether with four batters hit by the pitch. 

Grimes homered twice and brought in three runs for ODU, finishing 2-for-3 at the plate. Waters collected multiple hits throughout the contest with his 2-for-5 effort. Levari finished the evening 1-for-3 with a double and two scored runs for the Monarchs. Duffy came in and went 1-for-1 with his single in the ninth to bring in a run. Ticer finished the evening with a 1-for-4. 

After the game, Finwood acknowledged that Liberty was the better team and that giving up so many free baserunners and going cold in the batter’s box won’t win ballgames, but he hopes the team can learn from this and rebound this weekend against Marshall. 

“We got our butts whipped tonight. We gave them 13 free baserunners and struck out 14 times. We just didn’t play well enough to beat a good team like Liberty,” Finwood stated. “We will learn from this and grow and get back to work to get ready for Marshall this weekend in a big Sun Belt conference series for us.”

Old Dominion will host Marshall University at Bud Metheny Ballpark three times this weekend, beginning with a 6 p.m. first pitch this evening. Game two is scheduled for Saturday at 3 p.m. and game three on Sunday, with first pitch at 1 p.m.