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An ODU Baseball Team With High Hopes Opens Season With 4-1 Victory Over George Washington


John Holobetz, ODU's closer last season, started and pitched well for the Monarchs

By Harry Minium
NORFOLK, Va. – An Old Dominion baseball season in which the Monarchs have high hopes of returning to their accustomed roles as postseason contenders got off to a good start Friday afternoon.
The Monarchs used strong pitching and aggressive base running to roll past George Washington 4-1 in the season opener at Bud Metheny Ballpark. The game kicked off the final season at the Bud before it undergoes a $20 million makeover.
ODU went 44-16 in 2021 and 41-17 in 2022 and was named a No. 1 seed in the 2021 NCAA Tournament. The 2021 team lost in the Conference USA semifinals.
Last season the Monarchs weren't quite as successful --ODU was 32-23 and was bounced from the first round of the Sun Belt Tournament.
This year's team isn't supposed to be quite the offensive juggernaut that ODU fans have become accustomed to, but the Monarch pitching and fielding are supposed to be much stronger. And so is the team speed, which was evident Friday.
Four ODU pitchers limited GW to three hits and at one point, mowed down 19 GW batters in a row. The Monarchs stole five bases in five attempts, two each by shortstop Kyle Edwards and pinch runner Carter Sunderman and another by center fielder Steven Meier.
John Holobetz, 6-foot-3 junior from Pottsville, Pa., started for ODU and pitched well. He transferred from Radford last season and was ODU's closer.
He pitched five solid innings, allowing one run, which was unearned, and only three hits with two strikeouts.
Bailey Matela and Lincoln Ransom each threw a perfect inning apiece while senior reliever Jacob Gomez threw two scoreless innings to pick up the save.
Ransom, a senior from Whiteville, North Carolina, was converted from an outfielder to a pitcher. The righthander has been clocked throwing in the mid 90s. He pitched in high school on two state championship teams.
"I thought Holobetz was really solid and obviously the bullpen did a great job," ODU head coach Chris Finwood said. "Lincoln Ransom was pretty good for his first college outing, wasn't he?
"Lincoln is going to be a (pro) prospect before the year is over. As it warms up, that fastball will keep going up."
The five stolen bases were no fluke, Finwood said.
"That's something this team can do that last year's team couldn't," he said.
"We've got more guys that can run and we're going to be aggressive on the bases."
Evan Holman, a sophomore transfer from Aurora, Oregon, made his first start at catcher and played well – he had eight putouts and threw one runner out stealing. Finwood said that assistant coaches Jonathan Hadra and Ryan Fineman worked with Holman in the fall and winter.
"They've really done a good job with him," Finwood said. "Offensively, he's really improved. And he ran the show behind the plate."
GW took a 1-0 lead in the top of the third when Steve Ditomaso singled to right field and scored Ellis Schwartz. It was an unearned run as Schwartz reached base on a fielding error and then stole second.
Ditomaso placed his single perfectly, to the right side of the field.

ODU evened things up in the bottom of the third when Meier walked, advanced to second on a fielder's choice, stole third and then scored on a wild pitch. 
ODU scored three unearned runs in the bottom of the fourth. Jake Ticer scored on an error, Maverick Stallings scored on a wild pitch and Holman singled to right to score Meier.
The series with GW continues with games Saturday at 2 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m.
ODU then makes its first road trip of the season, traveling to No. 14 Virginia on Tuesday before hosting Rutgers next Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Rutgers was picked to finish fourth in the Big Ten.
The Monarchs then continue a rugged early-season schedule on Tuesday, Feb. 27, at home against No. 11 East Carolina before hosting Charlotte for a three-game series on March 1-3.
One of ODU's traditional rivals when both schools were in Conference USA, the 49ers were picked No. 2 in the American Athletic Conference preseason rankings, behind No. 1 ECU.
"We wanted that," Finwood said of a tough early-season schedule. "We decided to challenge ourselves and see if it helps us to improve.
"I don't think we had enough of that last season.
"GW has a really good program. They're well coached. They're going to make you earn everything offensively.
"I'm real pleased with how we played today."