Old Dominion University’s Monarch Baseball is fresh off its first ever Conference USA series victory against Louisiana Tech. The team carried that momentum into Friday’s’ game against the Charlotte 49ers. The Monarchs (15-10) took the lead in the first and never let up, getting a 7-2 victory against the 49ers (5-16-1).ODU has won four of their last five in the conference and have brought their conference record to an even 5-5.“This was probably our best overall performance, solid pitching and great at bats. We’ve had a lot of games this year getting one of those and not the other. This was a great all-around performance by our guys,” said head coach, Chris Finwood.The Monarchs struck early, scoring two runs in the first and keeping the pressure on throughout. Pitcher, Ryan Yarbrough, was appreciative of the run support he got.“Early run support is great. It really helps you settle in and relax. It’s a lot less stressful when you know you’re working with a lead,” Yarbrough said.Yarbrough (2-4) turned out his best performance of the year, going eight innings, striking out three batters and not giving up a run until the seventh inning.“I have struggled as of late. I just tried to keep the ball down, was able to get ahead in the count and make them hit my pitches. I got them to go after ‘pitcher’ pitches today,” he said.Yarbrough did not pitch last weekend and was pulled after five innings against Liberty University.“Lately he just looked like he wasn’t having fun out there. He wasn’t competing the right way. It’s more about the mentality you have than the stuff you’ve got on the mound, and he certainly looked better today,” Finwood said.The Monarchs stayed consistent offensively, hitting the ball hard and getting some much deserved runs playing small ball. After a double by catcher, Michael Perez, Nick Walker drove him in on a sacrifice fly. They tacked on another run on another sacrifice fly in the third.Small ball came back into play in the fourth when the Monarchs had a big three-run inning. A pair of doubles put runners on and centerfielder Nick Walker laid down a perfect bunt that not only drove in a run he also beat out the throw for the single.“You just have to put guys on in whatever way necessary. Walker is a great bunter and is just using what he’s good at. It’s all about keeping them off guard whatever way you can,” Yarbrough said.“They really got their pitches; they were selective in waiting for their fastballs. The guys worked the count and made the pitcher work hard,” he said.While the team was able to grind out some crucial runs, Finwood was impressed with the extra base hits his team was able to put together.“We really hit the ball hard. Five doubles in this one. And doubles win you games more than homeruns. When you have a day like that it’s going to be tough to lose,” Finwood said.With a seven run lead Yarbrough was able to pitch deep into the game. The 49ers got two runs in the eighth, but other than that, were able to muster too much offense against ODU’s pitching staff. Sam Sinnen was able to close the game out in just six pitches.“We really were just looking to get our bats going and get some quality innings off the mound. I felt like I did my part. The rest of the guys certainly did theirs,” Yarbrough said.After finishing the series against Charlotte, the Monarchs go up to Harbor Park to face the University of Virginia“UVA will be big for us but I really want the guys to stay focused with the conference games we have coming up,” Finwood said.The Monarchs suffered some tough losses at the hands of the Cavilers last season.“We want to win. Last year we went up there and gave them a run for their money, so we want to prove we can play consistently at a high level,” Yarbrough said.
By Matt O’Brien Staff Writer