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Monarchs Secure Midweek Win Over the Rams, 7-1

Bruce Butler

NORFOLK, Va. – A three-RBI double by Kenny Levari highlighted a five-run bottom of the seventh inning as Old Dominion Baseball won 7-1 over VCU on Tuesday night at Bud Metheny Ballpark.

"The guys played well tonight, though we left a bunch of runs out there. We pitched very well and finally had a big hit with Levari's three-run double in the seventh. Overall, a good night for us and a good crowd certainly helped," said ODU Head Coach Chris Finwood.

The Rams (25-15) struck first with a run in the top of the first inning. Leadoff batter Griffin Boone was hit by a pitch and took second on a passed ball. After Brandon Eike was also drilled, an Aden Hill single up the middle brought in Boone. ODU starting pitcher Nick Sulpizio prevented any further damage though as he got the next batter to line out to short and the following batter to ground out to second.

The Monarchs (22-18) didn't need long to respond, plating a run in their first turn at bat. TJ Aiken drew a leadoff walk and advanced to third on a Kyle Edwards double to left center. VCU then retired Luke Waters, but a Jake Ticer ground out to first allowed Aiken to come home on the play.

In the bottom of the second, Hunter Cole doubled down the right-field line but was thrown out trying to stretch it into a triple. ODU was still able to manufacture a run though as Carter Sunderman singled up the middle, Jack Slater walked, and Aiken drove in Sunderman with a base hit back up the middle.

VCU looked to even the score in the top of the third with two outs and runners in scoring position, but Hutson Trobaugh ended the threat with a strikeout swinging. ODU had an opportunity to add to its 2-1 lead in the sixth inning as Levari doubled down the left-field line before Steven Meier reached on a throwing error and then stole second. However, Cole and Sunderman both went down swinging and Slater grounded out to first.

The Monarchs finally created some separation in the home half of the seventh. Aiken started off the frame with a two-base hit down the left-line line, Edwards singled through the left side, and Waters was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Levari brought all three home with a double off the wall in right center. Meier beat out a bunt single, Jack Speights pinch hit for Cole and wore a pitch to reload the bases, and Sunderman earned a free RBI with a base on balls. VCU thought it got out of the inning with a 4-3 double play, but upon review Slater was ruled to have beaten out the throw and reached on a fielder's choice. The overturned call meant that Meier's run counted, and ODU went up 7-1.

Vincent Bashara retired the Rams in order in the eighth and Lincoln Ransom issued one walk and recorded three strikeouts in the ninth to end the game.

Sulpizio earned his first career win in what was a staff day for the Monarchs. The freshman from Cherry Hill, New Jersey allowed one run on one hit and one walk. He also hit three batters in two innings pitched. Trobaugh, Steven Trone, Kellen Davis, Aiden Kuhle, Bashara and Ransom held the Rams scoreless the rest of the way and combined for 12 strikeouts on the evening. The group also limited the visitors to just two hits and a .069 batting average.

For ODU, Levari finished 2-for-5 at the plate, doubled twice, drove in three runs and scored another. The senior continued his hit streak, which now stands at 11 straight games. Aiken is also on a hot streak as the freshman went 2-for-3 and pushed his hit streak to five games. He doubled and added one RBI, two runs, two walks and a stolen base to his totals. Edwards also doubled and scored a run in a 2-for-5 outing.

The Monarchs host ULM for a Sun Belt series this weekend at The Bud. Friday's series opener is scheduled for 6 p.m. and Saturday's game will begin at 4 p.m. Sunday's series finale, originally scheduled for a 1 p.m. first pitch, has been moved up to 10:30 a.m. in order to accommodate the Warhawks' travel plans.

"Hopefully we can get a nice crowd this weekend as it really helps our guys," added Finwood.