BILOXI, Miss. -- Facing yet another late-game deficit, Old Dominion scored two runs in the bottom of the eighth to rally over seventh-seeded FIU, 3-2, in the opening round of the Conference USA Tournament on Wednesday at MGM Park.
"We've been doing it all year," said head coach Chris Finwood. "I told our guys ‘we've got them right where we want them, down one in the eighth.' We've had so many of those like that it doesn't really surprise you. These guys are just built like that, they don't ever quit.”
After Javier Valdes' two-run home run in the top of the eighth gave FIU (31-26) a 2-1 lead, Old Dominion (37-19) capitalized with the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the frame.
Zach Rutherford's RBI single tied the game at 2-2, before Kurt Sinnen drew a bases-loaded walk for what proved to be the game-winning RBI.
“It's really just keep doing what we've been doing all season," said Rutherford. "Just keep battling all 27 outs and keep playing the game the whole time. Today, we just came out on top.”
Starting pitcher Sam Sinnen, despite a no decision, continued his dominance of FIU this season. The Virginia Beach native threw 7.1 innings, allowing two runs on nine hits, while striking out six. The only runs Sinnen allowed were on Valdes' homer in the eighth.
Dating back to last season's C-USA Tournament, Sinnen held a streak of 19 consecutive innings without allowing a run against FIU, prior to Valdes' home run.
"I was really proud of how he [Sinnen] pitched," said Finwood. "That's probably one of his best performances of the year.”
After Sinnen was pulled with one out in the eighth, Craig Lopez recorded two consecutive outs to close out the eighth and earn the win on the mound. Freshman Corey Klak then came on to throw a perfect ninth for his sixth save of the season.
With the win, ODU advances to play Rice tomorrow at 5 p.m. ET. Rice defeated Florida Atlantic, 5-3, in its first round game.
View the complete results from day one of the C-USA Championship at ConferenceUSA.com.
GAME NOTES ODU is now 8-5 all-time against FIU ... ODU is now 3-6 all-time in the C-USA Tournament and earned its first postseason win since 2014 (snapped 7-game postseason losing streak ... ODU's first win in the opening round of a conference tournament since 2007 (CAA) ... ODU is now 25-6 when scoring first ... ODU has yet to lose a game this season when holding the lead through eight innings, now at 29-0 ... Sinnen is now 3-1 over his last five starts with a 2.32 ERA ... Sinnen held a streak of 19+ scoreless innings against FIU, before Valdes' two-run home run.
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