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by Pierce Yarberry

Monarchs Meet the Jaguars in First Round of the Sun Belt Championship

No. 8 seed ODU and No. 9 seed South Alabama are playing in a single-elimination game on Tuesday. First pitch at Riverwalk Stadium, home of the Montgomery Biscuits, is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. ET.


Matchup – No. 8 Old Dominion (29-24, 15-15 Sun Belt) vs. No. 9 South Alabama (31-24, 14-16 Sun Belt)

Game Location – Riverwalk Stadium (Montgomery, Ala.)

Start Time – Tuesday, May 21 at 7:30 p.m. ET


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MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Old Dominion Baseball begins play at the Guardian Credit Union Sun Belt Conference Championship presented by Troy University on Tuesday evening when the eighth-seeded Monarchs square off against ninth-seeded South Alabama in a single-elimination game. First pitch at Riverwalk Stadium, home of the Montgomery Biscuits, is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. ET.

Every game during the Sun Belt Championship will be streamed on ESPN+ and fans can also hear Eric Bohannon on Fox Sports Radio 1310. Live stats will also be available.

Around the Horn

The Monarchs (29-24, 15-15 Sun Belt) won Saturday’s rubber match at Georgia State, 20-6 to clinch their spot in the conference tournament. Maverick Stallings was named the league’s Player of the Week on Monday after hitting .333 (4-for-12) with three home runs, one double, four runs and nine RBIs against the Panthers. The junior infielder has now hit five home runs in the past four games for ODU and has taken over the team lead with 11 this season.

The Sun Belt also announced its postseason awards and all-conference teams on Monday, with Luke Waters earning a spot on the All-Sun Belt Second Team. The junior from Laurel, Delaware started all 53 games in right field for ODU this season and leads the team with a .320 batting average, a .522 slugging percentage and 65 hits. 

Kyle Edwards follows Waters with a .287 average, Stallings is batting .270 and Kenny Levari has a .259 clip. Levari has driven in 44 runs and Steven Meier (.243) has scored 44 times. Meier is also 26-for-27 when attempting to steal, Waters is 18-for-23, and Edwards is 14-for-19. As a team, the Monarchs are batting .251 with a .404 slugging percentage and a .350 on-base percentage. Through games played on May 19, ODU is ranked 71st in the RPI.

Senior right hander Vincent Bashara (3-0, 2.20 ERA) will get the start on Tuesday. It will be the second start this season for the Norfolk, Virginia native. He has recorded 29 strikeouts through 32.2 innings and 20 appearances and opposing batters are hitting .205 against him. The Monarchs rank 11th in the nation in strikeout-to-walk ratio (2.81), 12th in walks allowed per nine innings (3.34), 14th in WHIP (1.29), 22nd in hits allowed per nine innings (8.27), and 28th in ERA (4.53).

Scouting South Alabama

The Jaguars (31-24, 14-16) finished the regular season at Louisiana. After dropping the series opener 6-5 last Thursday, USA run-ruled the Ragin’ Cajuns 10-0 in seven innings on Friday. The hosts returned the favor, though, as the Jags dropped the rubber match 13-3 in seven innings on Saturday.

Lefty Jaxon Shineflew was voted Sun Belt Pitcher of the Week after recording his first nine outs via strikeout. He held the Ragin’ Cajuns to just three hits and a walk while setting a new career high of 10 strikeouts through six innings. Relief pitcher Grant Wood was named to the All-Sun Belt Second Team after posting a 2.84 ERA with nine saves through 18 appearances. He struck out 23 in 19 innings pitched. 

South Alabama is currently ranked 66th in the RPI and is batting .248 as a team with a .403 slugging percentage and .371 on-base percentage. Nathan Wood owns a .341 batting average and Micah Morgan is second at .324. Following them are Joseph Sullivan (.274), Brennan Holt (.271), and Tyler Borges (.263). Lucas Ismaili (.253) has hit a team-best 11 home runs, Ethan Melton (.230) has hit three triples, and Holt and Will Turner (.221) have tallied 15 and 13 doubles, respectively. Holt and Turner have combined to score 92 runs and Ismaili enters Tuesday’s game with 42 RBIs. Holt is 20-for-26 when trying to steal, Sullivan is 14-for-15, and Turner is 12-for-18. The Jags rank second in the country in sacrifice bunts (46) and are second in the conference in fielding percentage (.975).

USA will start left hander Zach Willingham (1-1, 3.50 ERA) against the Monarchs. A redshirt junior from Cleveland, Mississippi, he has made 14 appearances this season with 21 strikeouts in 18.0 innings pitched. Opponents are batting .209 against him.  

The Series

ODU hosted USA on March 29-30 at Bud Metheny Ballpark, with the Monarchs winning the series two games to one. Due to weather, the teams played a doubleheader that Friday with Old Dominion claiming both games, 8-2 and 8-3. The Jaguars avoided the sweep with a 5-3 final the next day.

The Monarchs are ahead in the all-time series, 5-4. Prior to this season, the two programs hadn’t met on the diamond since the 1990 Sun Belt Tournament in Mobile, Alabama, a game that ODU won 8-2. The Monarchs reached the conference title game that year, but fell to USF, 16-11.

Up Next

No. 7 seed Coastal Carolina and No. 10 seed Georgia State play in Tuesday’s other single-elimination game at 4 p.m. ET. The winners will advance to the Sun Belt’s double-elimination bracket, with the higher remaining seed playing No. 2 Southern Miss at 1:30 p.m. ET on Wednesday and the lower seed playing No. 1 Louisiana at 5 p.m. ET on Wednesday.