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Home Runs by Aiken, Levari Not Enough in 4-2 Loss at Marshall


HUNTINGTON, W.Va. TJ Aiken and Kenny Levari both homered, but that was all the offense that Old Dominion Baseball could muster as the Monarchs dropped their Sun Belt series opener at Marshall, 4-2 on Friday night at Jack Cook Field.

A freshman from Greenwood, South Carolina, Aiken needed just three pitches in the top of the first to collect his first career long ball, a solo shot to right field. The Thundering Herd (13-24, 6-10 Sun Belt) looked to respond in the bottom of the first as AJ Havrilla hit a two-out double and advanced to third on a wild pitch, but Jay Cassady struck out the next batter to keep the home team off the scoreboard.

The Monarchs' (19-18, 7-9) 1-0 lead would hold until the bottom of the third. With two outs, Owen Ayers singled through the left side and then scored on a Havrilla double to right center to knot the game at 1-1. Marshall pulled ahead, 3-1 with a two-run bottom of the fourth. Tre Hondras led off with a single to center field, stole second and third, and raced home on a ball that got past Evan Holman. Ethan Murdoch kept the inning going as he walked, took second on a wild pitch and came around on a Kebler Peralta base hit to center.

In the seventh inning, Levari got ODU back to within a run with a solo blast to right field. The Monarchs looked to pull even later in the top of the eighth as Aiken walked and Steven Meier was hit by a pitch, but a Luke Waters ground out to second got the Herd out of the inning.

Marshall then added an insurance run in the home half of the inning as Hondras reached on an ODU fielding error. Elijah Vogelsong moved him up to second with a sacrifice bunt, a balk allowed Hondras to take third, and a Calin Smith double to left put Marshall up, 4-2. The Monarchs then went down in order in the ninth to finish the game.

Cassady (0-2) received the loss after giving up two runs on four hits and a walk. He added three strikeouts in a 3.1-inning start. Kellen Davis allowed one run on one hit and one walk, adding a strikeout in 0.1 innings out of the pen. John Holobetz was responsible for an unearned run on four hits and one base on balls to go along with four strikeouts through 4.1 innings in relief.

Aiken finished the game 1-for-3 with the home run and a walk. Hunter Cole also turned in a 1-for-3 outing, Levari went 1-for-4 with his fifth homer of the season, and Kyle Edwards collected ODU's other hit with a 1-for-4 outing.

ODU will look to even the series when the two teams return for a 7 p.m. start on Saturday.