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by Pierce Yarberry

Monarchs Win Rubber Match at GSU, Clinch Spot in Sun Belt Championship

Four different Monarchs combined to hit five home runs as Old Dominion Baseball clinched a spot in next week’s Sun Belt Championship with a 20-6 victory at Georgia State on Saturday.

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ATLANTA – Four different Monarchs combined to hit five home runs as Old Dominion Baseball clinched a spot in next week’s Sun Belt Championship with a 20-6 victory at Georgia State on Saturday.

The 20 runs scored marks a season high for ODU, which finishes the regular season at 29-24 overall and 15-15 in conference play. The Monarchs will enter the tournament as the No. 8 seed and will face ninth-seeded South Alabama in a 7:30 p.m. ET single-elimination game on Tuesday in Montgomery, Alabama. The Championship is being played at Riverwalk Stadium, home of the Montgomery Biscuits.

The five homers marked the second-most the team has hit this season. The Monarchs tallied six long balls in a 15-4 win over then-No. 20 Coastal Carolina on April 6. Additionally, seven different players combined for 14 hits on the day, the third-most by ODU in 2024. The team finished with 19 hits in the win over the Chanticleers and had 15 in the 14-8 win at VCU on May 7.

It didn’t take long for the offense to get going in Saturday’s rubber match. In the top of the first inning, Kyle Edwards drew a one-out walk before Kenny Levari put ODU on the scoreboard with a line drive two-run shot to left. Luke Waters followed with a solo homer to center field to make it a 3-0 lead. Steven Meier tacked on another run as he was hit by a pitch, took second on a Nick Mueller walk, and came around on an Evan Holman base hit that hopped over the head of the GSU first baseman.

The Monarchs went up 6-0 in the third inning. With two outs, Meier doubled to the gap in left before Mueller smacked an 0-2 pitch over the wall in right center. The Panthers (25-31, 13-17) broke through with a run in the bottom of the fourth, but ODU responded with another five runs in the fifth. With one out and the bases loaded, Holman drove in two with a double down the left-field line and Maverick Stallings hit a three-run bomb to right center. It marked his fifth home run in the past four games.

ODU put up another five runs in the sixth to pull away, 16-1. With the bases loaded, Meier was plunked for a third time for a free RBI. Waters then came home on a Mueller ground out to third, Stallings drove in a pair with a double to right center, and Stallings scored as TJ Aiken reached on an error by the GSU second baseman. 

The Panthers were able to manufacture five runs on four hits and an error in the bottom of the sixth, but it wouldn’t matter as the Monarchs pushed across four more runs in the seventh. Edwards doubled to left and later scored from third on a Waters hit through the left side. After Meier walked, Mueller homered for the second time, this one a three-run no-doubter to right field. Brandon Pond then retired the Panthers in order to bring the game to a close.

Dylan Brown (3-3) earned the win after holding the hosts to one run on two hits and two walks. He recorded five strikeouts in a 3.2-inning start. The Lansdale, Pennsylvania native retired the first retired the first seven batters and struck out the side in the first inning.

Mueller finished 2-for-4 with the two homers, six RBIs and a walk. Stallings also went 2-for-4 with one home run, five RBIs, and two runs. Holman doubled, drove in three runs and came around once in a 3-for-5 day at the plate. Waters hit 4-for-5 with a long ball and added four runs and two RBIs to his totals. Levari (1-for-4) had the team’s other home run and ended up with two runs, two RBIs and one base on balls.