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by Harry Minium

ODU Baseball Claims Last Game at The Bud on Walkoff Steven Meier Home Run

ODU won the last game played at Bud Metheny Stadium before it undergoes a $20 million renovation


Monarchs swarm Steven Meier after his 12th-inning home run

NORFOLK, Va. – There have been a ton of dramatic finishes and satisfying victories in the 41 seasons that Old Dominion played baseball at Bud Metheny Stadium, but few were as electrifying or emotional as ODU’s victory over Appalachian State Sunday.

Playing in the final game at The Bud before the stadium undergoes a $20 million renovation, center fielder Steven Meier pounded a towering walkoff home run over the right field fence to lift the Monarchs to an 11-10 victory over App State in the bottom of the 12th inning.

The Monarchs streamed onto the field as Meier rounded the bases and doused him with a bucket with ice and water as he crossed the plate.

“This is a game that whoever saw it will never forget,” ODU assistant coach Jonathan Hadra said.

Meier had been in something of a slump as of late and was known more for stealing bases (he’s stolen 23 on 24 attempts) than homers. Hadra told Meier “not to do too much” when he came to the plate with no one out.

“I had such a simple approach,” said Meier, a junior from Kennewick, Washington.

“I tried to hit a line drive up the middle and I would have taken that. But then I got it good. I knew (it was a home run) when it came off the bat.

“This is a very special place,” head coach Chris Finwood added. “Not just for me but for everyone who’s been involved with this program since 1983.

“There have been some great coaches here. It’s humbling to follow in Bud Metheny’s, Mark Newman’s, Pat McMahon’s and Tony Guzzo’s footsteps.

“We are just custodians of the program while we’re here. We just try to leave it a little better than what we found.

“The upgrades are something we need to compete in the Sun Belt.”

He thanked ODU President Brian O. Hemphill, Ph.D., Dr. Wood Selig, ODU’s director of athletics and the many donors who made the stadium renovation possible.

“The new stadium is going to be a real shot in the arm for our program,” Finwood added.

When the stadium reopens, it will have luxury suites, a ground-level club behind home plate, a new locker facility and players’ lounge for the home team, upgraded concessions facilities and all chairback seating. 

ODU will spend next season mostly on the road while the stadium is renovated. The Monarchs will host five three-game Sun Belt series at either Norfolk’s Harbor Park or War Memorial Stadium in Hampton. Every other game will be played on the road.

ODU returns to the Bud the the late winter or early spring of 2026, almost two years into the future. The stadium will then be known as Bud Metheny Ballpark at the Ellmer Family Baseball Complex.

Local entrepreneur Dennis Ellmer, who along with his wife, Jan, donated $2.5 million to the fundraising drive, attended Sunday’s game. It was President Hemphill who persuaded Ellmer to make the naming donation.

“My wife and I have the grandchildren at home, and nothing ever takes me away from my grandchildren,” Ellmer said. “But it was important for me to be here for this game.

“The stadium renovation is overdue. It will do so much to enhance our baseball program and will help coach Finwood and his staff recruit.”

It was also an emotional day for 12 seniors, who lined up and received plaques while their parents were given flowers. Because the game was played on Mother’s Day, the mothers of ODU players tossed out the symbolic first pitch to their sons.

While the victory had plenty of symbolic significance, it was also desperately needed by the Monarchs (27-23 overall, 13-14 Sun Belt).

ODU had dropped the first two games of the series with App State (30-17-1, 15-11-1), including a 4-3 loss on Saturday in which the Monarchs had the bases loaded in the bottom of the tenth but failed to score.

A loss would have dropped ODU into an 11th-place tie with Texas State. Only the top 10 teams play in the Sun Belt Tournament later this month in Montgomery, Alabama.

ODU is now tied for seventh with South Alabama and Coastal Carolina.

The Monarchs conclude their season this week with a non-conference game Tuesday at Richmond and then a three-game Sun Belt series at Georgia State Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

Sunday’s game was a back-and-forth affair.  ODU took a 5-0 lead in the second on an RBI single from Meier and a grand slam from Maverick Stallings, who had two home runs and six RBIs in three at bats.

App State scored twice in the sixth and four runs in the seventh on a Drew Holderbach grand slam to make it 6-5.

ODU tied it up in the seventh on a solo home run from Stallings and then took a 9-6 lead in the eighth when Stallings was walked with the bases loaded and then left fielder Bryce Jones drilled a two-run single up the middle.

But the Monarchs could not close it out in the ninth when, holding a one-run lead, an ODU error allowed Holderbach to score the tying run with two outs.

ODU walked in a run in the top of the tenth, but Kenny Edwards tied it in the bottom of the ninth with a sacrifice fly.

Finwood went about as deep on his bench as he could. He used 22 players, including nine pitchers.

“We were running out of bullets in the bullpen,” Finwood said.

Norfolk native Vincent Bashara, a senior, started and tossed five scoreless innings for the Monarchs. Dylan Brown picked up the victory with two scoreless innings.

The crowd of 529 included a number of long-time ODU fans and former players. Dr. Selig made the rounds in the Rally Alley, where fans exchanged nostalgic stories about The Bud.

“I think everyone was excited to be here for the last time and in what we know this stadium to be,” Dr. Selig said.

“I think everyone is feeling good about being a part of history today and we can’t wait for the future.”

Selig has played a role in some of ODU’s most ambitious facility upgrades, including the 2019 renovation to S.B. Ballard Stadium, construction of the Mitchum Basketball Performance Center and the ODU Volleyball Center as well as the expansion of the L.R. Hill Sports Complex, which greatly enlarged the weight training center for football and other sports.

“It’s really been a team effort starting with the university administration and everyone in the athletic administration,” he said. “You want to leave things better than we found it and we’re certainly going to be able to do that.”

Dr. Pat Baker, who was the ODU team dentist for decades before recently retiring, was among many long-time fans who attended the game.

“I remember when The Bud first opened, it was the best baseball facility in the state, bar none,” he said. “And we will have the chance to do that again.”

The stadium renovation was jump-started by the 2021 ODU team that was a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, but had to play in Columbia, South Carolina because The Bud did not meet NCAA standards. ODU lost in that regional final, 4-3, in ten innings to Virginia.

ODU alumni were so embarrassed that the Monarchs had to play on the road that they began a fundraising drive eventually endorsed by the Old Dominion Athletic Foundation and then President John Broderick.

Dr. Hemphill eventually all but took control of the fundraising effort, making calls on several ODU alumni and friends to persuade them to make large donations.

ODU has raised $19 million of the $20 million.

“I don’t think there’s any question that we would have had a much better chance of winning that regional had we been able to host it here,” said ODU booster Dick Fraim, among dozens who donated to the stadium effort.

 “Playing at home gives you such an advantage. I think that team would have gone to the College World Series. This renovation will ensure that never happens again.”

Regardless, Finwood said the final game at The Bud as currently configured was memorable.

“You can’t go out any better than we did today,” he said. “A walk off home run in the bottom of the 12th? That’s about as good as it gets.”