No. 18 ODU Too Much for Middle Tennessee in C-USA Tournament, 10-6

NCAA

RUSTON, La. (ODU Sports)– In the second game of the Conference USA Championship for the Monarchs, the No. 18 nationally ranked Old Dominion baseball team downed Middle Tennessee by a 10-6 score on Thursday afternoon at J.C. Love Field at Pat Patterson Park in Ruston, Louisiana. With the score tied 1-1, ODU exploded for seven runs in the bottom of the fifth, highlighted by a Tommy Bell grand slam.
 
Today’s win marked the 40th of the season for the No. 4 seeded Monarchs (40-14), which is the most victories for the program since 1994, when ODU went 40-14.
 
Hunter Gregory (8-2) picked up the win for Old Dominion, as he delivered seven innings of work and six strikeouts, allowing just three hits for one run.
 
“Hunter pitched the ball really well today. When he’s on top like that, he is really tough to handle,” said ODU head coach Chris Finwood. “He looked comfortable out there. I was very proud of his performance.”
 
Seven of nine ODU offensive starters recorded at least one hit, while four Monarchs had a multi-hit game, led by Bell (3-4, 4 RBI, 1 HR) and Kenny Levari (3-4, 2R, 1BB). Kyle Battle and Lincoln Ransom each had two hits for Old Dominion.
 
“Our guys just keep grinding out at-bats and we seem to grasp momentum when given the opportunity,” Finwood continued.
 
The No. 8 seeded Blue Raiders (24-27-1) jumped out to an early 1-0 lead after leading off the top of the second with a double, followed by a sacrifice bunt and a sac fly.
 
With two outs in the bottom of the fourth, ODU’s Matt Coutney was hit by a pitch. Bell then singled through the right side for his second hit in as many at-bats. A Ransom double to left field plated Coutney to tie the contest, 1-1.
 
Battle led off the bottom of the fifth with a walk, followed by a Levari single to left center. The Conference USA Freshman of the Year, Carter Trice, then singled to left field, to bring in Battle and give ODU a 2-1 lead. Andy Garriola then scored Levari after a single through the left side, extending the Monarchs lead to 3-1. Following a Brock Gagliardi walk, Coutney singled to left to score Trice for a 4-1 lead. With the bases loaded, Bell smoked a ball over the left field fence for a grand slam, making it an 8-1 advantage for Old Dominion. The home run was the sixth of the year for Bell.
 
“Tommy Bell with the grand slam broke the game open for us,” said Finwood. “Tommy is just a veteran player, who has played a lot of baseball for us. When he gets up in the count, he knows how to look for the right pitch and he is never afraid of the moment.”
 
Levari started the bottom of the sixth with a single to right field. Gagliardi then launched his ninth homer of the season over the left field wall, giving the Monarchs a 10-1 lead.
 
Middle Tennessee put together a two out rally in the top of the eighth, scoring two runs off four hits to cut their deficit to 10-3.
 
In the top of the ninth, the Blue Raiders utilized a walk, a hit by pitch, a passed ball and a sac fly to manufacture three runs on one hit, bringing the final score to 10-6 in favor of ODU.
 
The Monarchs get tomorrow off and will return to the diamond at 10 a.m. ET on Saturday, May 29. Old Dominion will play the winner of No. 5 seed Florida Atlantic versus No. 8 seed Middle Tennessee. Saturday morning’s ballgame will be broadcast on ESPN+ and carried over the airwaves on Money Talk 1310 AM and Rejoice 100.9 FM, with Ted Alexander on the radio call.
 
“We will come watch the game tomorrow and see who we will play on Saturday,” concluded Finwood. “It’s awfully nice to not have to play tomorrow.”

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