HATTIESBURG, MS.—ODU (34-23) freshman outfielder Joseph Guaragna (Mississauga, Ontario/Canada) doubled in two runs in a 3-2 victory over the FIU Panthers (36-20) in an elimination game at the Conference USA Baseball Championships at Pete Taylor Park, hosted by Southern Miss. The fifth seeded Monarchs advance to Friday's 4 p.m. (ET) elimination game against Middle Tennessee, who lost to top seeded Rice today, 8-2. Click here to follow the game live. Listen to the game live on STAR1310 AM with Ted Alexander providing the play-by-play.
Old Dominion Head Coach Chris Finwood
“It was a tough game. We get a big hit from (Joseph Guaragna), making his first college start. Sometimes in a college tournament, those things have to happen. Some of those stars have to rise up for you to win. We pitched it well and defended it well, turning three double plays, and I think that was the difference in the game.”
“Sometimes it takes a guy who hadn’t been there to break it open. Joey’s a great kid, a talented kid. He’s just playing behind some older guys right now and hasn’t had a lot of opportunities. He found out he was starting about 15 minutes before game time. He had some tough at bats early on, but he gets the double for us to take the lead.”
“You live to fight again. That’s the way it is in a college tournament. You have to find a way to win the one you’re playing and worry about tomorrow’s game later.”
Old Dominion Left Fielder Joseph Guaragna
On finding out 15 minutes before the game that he was starting:“I just had to get ready. I’ve always been prepared to come in. But my time came and I was ready. “I lost an opportunity with the bases loaded a couple innings before. I was just sitting on a fastball, got one, and luckily it dropped.”
FIU took the early lead on a solo homer from C-USA’s Player of the Year Aramis Garcia in the fourth inning. The Monarchs came back in the fifth with a three-run rally. Ben Slaton singled and Josiah Burney walked. Freshman Guaragna, who got the late start because regular starter Josh Eldridge fell ill before the game doubled down the rightfield line to plate Slaton and Burney and tie the game at 2-2. Guaragna advanced to third on an FIU error.
After PJ Higgins reached on a hit by pitch, he and Guaragna did a double steal and the Monarchs lead went to 3-1. Garcia inched FIU one run closer when he doubled home Zach Sweety to make it 3-2 in the sixth inning.
ODU’s junior reliever Conner Overton (Mechanicsville, VA.) came on in the eighth and got the final two outs of that inning with a runner on third base, then pitched out of a two-out jam I the ninth for his fourth save of the season, and gave Monarch starter, Andy Roberts (6-3) his third straight win.
Taylor Ostrich led ODU with three hits on the day, while Ben Slaton had two. FIU was led by Aramis Garcia and Edwin Rios with two hits each.
ODU, which ranks 25th nationally in double plays, turned three more today to set a new school record with 60. The old record of 58 was set in 1985 and 1999.