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Early Offense, Strong Pitching Allow Monarchs to Grab Sun Belt Opener Against Georgia Southern

Bob Bradlee

NORFOLK, Va. – A six-run bottom of the first inning helped Old Dominion Baseball break open the game as the Monarchs opened conference play with an 11-1 win over Georgia Southern on Friday at Bud Metheny Ballpark.
Maverick Stallings, Luke Waters and Alex Bouche all homered while Jay Cassady, John Holobetz and Vincent Bashara held the Eagles (8-9, 0-1 Sun Belt) to one run on five hits and an error.
"Our guys came out ready to play and a six-run first inning certainly helps," said ODU Head Coach Chris Finwood. "I thought Jay did a good job in the opener role and John was fantastic as the bulk guy today! We had a bunch of big at bats and some timely hits. We also made some big defensive plays with Kyle Edwards and Steve Meier making diving plays to rob hits."

The Monarchs (11-7, 1-0) got off to a quick start in their first turn at the plate. Edwards popped up to start the inning, but the GS first baseman couldn't make a play on it and the error allowed Edwards to take second base. Meier was hit by a pitch and Waters plated Edwards on a single through the right side. Waters then stole second and after an Evan Holman walk to load the bases, Bouche made it 3-0 with a 2-RBI base hit to center field. Stallings doubled that lead as he connected on a 2-1 offering that carried over the wall in right center.

Georgia Southern got back a run in the top of the second thanks to a Sean White RBI triple to center field, but ODU responded in the home half of the frame. Edwards led off with a double to right, advanced to third on a Meier ground out to second, and scored on a Waters infield single to first base.
Cassady recorded the first two outs in the top of the third before surrendering a base hit to right. The Monarchs then brought in Holobetz, who retired 10 Eagle batters in a row. ODU plated another two runs in the fourth as Meier singled through the right side and Waters homered to just right of the batter's eye. Bouche added a solo home run in the seventh and ODU completed the run-rule in the eighth as Bryce Jones collected his first collegiate hit and scored from first on an Edwards double down the left-field line.
ODU got some great plays in the field as well. Edwards made a diving play in the hole and threw across the diamond in time to rob the Eagles of a hit in the third. Meier also robbed GS of an extra-base hit and another run as he made a leaping catch in center field in the seventh.

Holobetz (2-2) earned the win after tossing 4.1 scoreless innings in relief. He struck out five, didn't walk anyone and gave up just one hit. Cassady started and went 2.2 innings with one run allowed on four hits and one walk, adding one strikeout to his totals. The Monarchs also used Bashara, who retired all three batters he faced.
Waters finished the day 3-for-4 with the home run, two runs scored, four RBIs and a stolen base. Bouche turned in a 2-for-3 effort with the solo blast, two runs and a hit by pitch. Stalling hit 2-for-4 with his first homer as a Monarch, Edwards (2-for-5) doubled twice, scored two runs and also drove in one, and Meier (2-for-3) turned in ODU's other multi-hit performance as he came around twice and was hit by a pitch.
"It's a good way to open conference play and we know we will have to play our best baseball tomorrow to have a shot at winning the ball game," continued Finwood. "I thought Luke and Alex came up big offensively for us today!"
The two teams continue their Sun Belt series tomorrow with a 3 p.m. start at The Bud.