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Mace & Crown

Providing Student News to Old Dominion University Since 1930

Mace & Crown

Providing Student News to Old Dominion University Since 1930

Mace & Crown

Monarchs Baseball Capture Royal Rivalry Series Against JMU

Maria Toombs
Senior Jacob Gomez pitches in Sunday’s contest against the Dukes.

The nice weather on the weekend was a quality kickstart for the Monarch baseball squad, as they were able to win two out of their three games against the Dukes of Harrisonburg for a Royal Rivalry series victory. This series win for the Monarchs creates a tie with JMU in conference play, with both squads standing at 7-8. 

The Monarchs came out dominant in the first game. Finwood’s pitching staff was stout in Friday night’s 7-1 win, scattering five hits across nine innings and a singular consolation run in the ninth inning. 

This masterful performance was put together by the combo of southpaw Jay Cassady and workhorse John Holobetz. Cassady, a graduate transfer from CNU, was able to pitch around the JMU bats as he retired six by strikeout, walking one and giving way to one hit across four innings of work. Righty Holobetz came in to follow, and Finwood was able to ride Holobetz’s strong arm in long relief for five innings, closing out the game. 

Both pitchers conducted their work efficiently, throwing 55 pitches apiece as Holobetz got the win that evening. This performance alone by the arms put the Monarchs in a great position to win, but the home team was able to provide run support in the evening. 

Junior Kyle Edwards goes through his motion on the throw to first base. (Maria Toombs)

Having changed a bit of their offensive identity from past years, the Monarchs were able to spray hits all over the field. Finwood and crew jumped on the Dukes for three runs in the second and then scored once in the 5th through 8th innings to end Friday on a happy note. 

Individual performances of note came from catcher Evan Holman, who went 2-3 with 2 RBIs while also scoring himself. Second baseman Maverick Stallings had a quality night at the plate, as well. 500 (2/4) plating two and scoring once. To round off the bottom of the lineup production came freshman left fielder TJ Aiken, who went 2-3 on the night, driving in a run on a bunt for a hit much to the ODU fanbase’s delight. 

Game two of the series, unfortunately, did not get off to as good of a start as the Friday night opener, as some unforeseen errors in the third inning allowed JMU to take the lead 3-0. The Monarchs, however, were not out of the fight as they clawed back into the contest, scoring in the third off a Luke Waters single, which plated the speedy Aiken. Finwood and crew would score again in the fourth as Aiken’s name would show up in the books again, shooting a single up the middle to plate Stallings, making it a 3-2 contest. 

Unfortunately for the home team, the Dukes would score in the sixth, eighth, and twice in the ninth to make the game seemingly out of reach at 7-2. The Monarchs, however, would not be thwarted without a fight, as they would rattle off three in the bottom of the ninth before a pitching change by JMU, which would send the Monarchs packing for the evening. 

The three-run outburst in crunch time came thanks to top-of-the-lineup dominance as Steven Meier homered, scoring Kyle Edwards, and then a two-out single by Kenny Levari scored Luke Waters, who had doubled earlier in the ninth. 

Ultimately, the Monarchs were toppled on Saturday 7–5, but brought momentum into the series finale on Sunday at 1 p.m.

Waters was able to rebound from going 0-4 on Friday by having a three-hit day on Saturday, going 3-5 with a singular RBI and run scored. Freshman Aiken’s plate performance continued to wow, going 2-4 while driving in one and scoring as well to help offset some miscues in the outfield that will subside with experience. 

The series was tied 1-1. The Monarchs and Dukes came into Sunday with high expectations. The Monarchs were able to spread out a scoring barrage, which, in conjunction with quality pitching, gave them a 6-0 advantage through six innings. 

Junior Luke Waters rounds the bases after his home run against James Madison. (Maria Toombs)

Pitching for the Monarchs was conducted by a trifecta of arms in Dylan Brown, Trent Buchanan and Kellen Davis over the first four innings before putting stopper Jacob Gomez in to pitch the last five innings.

Gomez ran into a bit of a hiccup in the eighth as he gave way to a power stroke by JMU when they tattooed two over the wall to plate three and make the score 6-3. Gomez, however, was able to withstand the surge and went on to finish the game, retiring seven by strikeout and gaining himself his seventh save of the season. 

Stallings continued to be dominant in the box as he went 1-2 on the day, launching a two-run bomb after being substituted into the game for freshman Carter Sundermann. Also to note was Luke Waters, who had two hits and plated two off a two-run bomb. Kenny Levari, who, after struggling early in the season, is starting to put the pieces together, having two hits on the day as well. 

Head Coach Chris Finwood commented, “I was proud of our guys’ grit today. I asked them to just fight like crazy. This was a big game and keeps us right in the middle of things at the halfway point in Sun Belt play.”

With this momentum moving forward, the Monarchs look to take on a huge challenge in their third matchup against UVA this season. This matchup will be ODU’s eighth game against a ranked opponent on the season. The Monarchs are among six Sun Belt teams placed in the top 60 teams nationally in RPI, or strength of schedule. 

This third and final matchup against the Cavaliers will take place on Tuesday at 6 p.m. at Harbor Park in Norfolk. Harbor Park is home to the Norfolk Tides, the Triple-AAA affiliate of the reigning AL East Champs, the Baltimore Orioles.


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About the Contributors
Art Neal
Art Neal, Assistant Sports Editor
Art Neal serves as an Assistant Sports Editor for the Mace & Crown. He is in his second year at Old Dominion and is currently majoring in Biology with a concentration in Biomedical Sciences. Art is excited for the opportunity to write sports journalism and further expand his sports fanaticism that he has had since a young age. After Old Dominion, Art hopes to head off to medical school where he is hopeful for the opportunity to incorporates his journalism experiences into his future career. You can reach him at [email protected].
Maria Toombs
Maria Toombs, Photo Editor
Maria is the Photo Editor for the Mace & Crown starting Spring 2024. She plans to take her knowledge of photography and journalism in hopes of a career in photojournalism with the Washington Post or BuzzFeed Network. She mainly shoots portraits and sports games, but also loves being in the mix of entertainment-style photography.

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