NORFOLK, Va. (ODU SPORTS) – Old Dominion University baseball finished its eight-game homestand with another win as the Monarchs defeated cross-town rival Norfolk State 16-7 on Wednesday afternoon at Bud Metheny Ballpark.
The Spartans (2-9) took an early 3-0 lead in the top of the first, but Josh Trujillo led off the home half of the inning with a double to right field and later scored on a wild pitch. The Monarchs (12-1) then pulled even at 3-3 in the third inning as Camden Grimes scored from third on a wild pitch before Thomas Wheeler came home on a Chris Dengler sacrifice bunt.
ODU took a 4-3 lead in the fourth as Jake Ticer drew a one-out walk, moved to third on a Kenny Levari single up the middle, and scored on a Grimes double to left. The Monarchs then broke open the game with five runs in the fifth. Robbie O’Neal got the offense started with a leadoff homer to right field. Trujillo earned a base on balls and touched home on a Hunter Fitz-Gerald double down the right-field line. A fielding error by the NSU third baseman allowed Fitz-Gerald to come around, and Alex Bouche connected on a 3-1 pitch for a two-run blast to right center.
After NSU got a run back on a Jacob Council solo home run in the sixth, Fitz-Gerald answered with an RBI ground out in the bottom of the inning. In the seventh, O’Neal made it 13-4 with a three-run blast to right field. Fitz-Gerald then led off the bottom of the eighth with a four-bagger before Grimes added a two-run shot to give the Bud Bombers a 16-4 advantage.
The Spartans were able to put together three runs on five hits in the ninth, but Joey DeChiaro struck out Council and induced a fly out to left to bring the game to a close.
“I thought Landen Burch really threw the ball well today and mixed his pitches very well,” said head coach Chris Finwood. “One run and one hit with seven strikeouts and no walks. He was fantastic. I was really proud of his effort. Offensively, we got it going in the middle innings and obviously Robbie O’Neal had a big day with home runs from both sides of the plate. Only the second time I’ve ever seen that done, which was kind of neat.”
Burch (1-0) earned the win after holding the visitors to one run on one hit through 4.1 innings in relief. The freshman from Corning, New York entered the game with two outs and runners in scoring position and proceeded to retire the next 11 batters in a row. Starter Kyle Scrape was tagged for three runs on six hits and one walk, adding four strikeouts through 1.2 innings of work. Bailey Matela, Ben Moore and DeChiaro all pitched one inning each.
O’Neal went 3-for-5 at the plate with the two homers, three runs, four RBIs and one walk. Levari doubled, scored twice, walked once, was hit by a pitch and added a stolen base in a 3-for-4 outing. Grimes hit 2-for-3 with a long ball, a double, three runs, three RBIs, three walks and a swiped bag. Fitz-Gerald turned in a 2-for-5 effort with one homer, one double, three RBIs, two runs and one walk. Bouche had the team’s other home run and added two RBIs, one run, and one walk in a 1-for-5 day.
ODU has its first road series of the season this weekend. The Monarchs will travel to Charlotte, North Carolina for three games against former Conference USA foe UNC Charlotte. Friday’s opener is scheduled for a 6 p.m. start at Hayes Stadium. The teams will then play again at 2 p.m. on Saturday and at 1 p.m. on Sunday.