HATTIESBURG, MS— ODU junior righthander Victor Diaz along with three relievers scattered six hits as the Monarchs (35-23) defeated Middle Tennessee (31-27), 2-1 Friday afternoon at Pete Taylor Park in a C-USA Baseball Championship elimination game. ODU advances to Saturday’s semifinal round against top seeded and No. 16 Rice (39-17) at 10 A.M. (ET).
Listen to the game live on STAR1310 AM with Ted Alexander providing the play-by-play.
“It was a well-pitched ballgame on both sides and our hero (Friday) was our pitching staff,” ODU coach Chris Finwood said. “Vic Diaz goes out there and gives us six innings, and he really only threw one bad pitch in six innings. “Our bullpen’s been really good for us all year, and when we got to them (Friday), they answered the bell.”
“Rice is playing awfully good as you have seen, and they’ve got a heckuva ballclub,” Finwood said. “We played them three, really close games back in early March, which seems like a long time ago, now. “They’re certainly swinging the bats a lot better now, but, hopefully, we can get our bats going a little, but that’s not going to be easy against them.”
Josiah Burney led off the second with a hit and with two outs, sophomore Brian Beard singled home Burney for a 1-0 ODU lead. In the third inning Brian Bashara led off with a double and later scored on freshman Nick Walker’s single for a 2-0 Monarch lead.
MTSU’s lone run came in the sixth on a solo homer by Ryan Stephens, his eighth of the season. Monarch starter Victor Diaz pitched six innings with five strikeouts, one walk and four hits. Senior Dean Ali, junior Conner Overton and senior Brad Gero pitched the final three innings without giving up a run. For Gero, it was his 12th save of the season.
ODU had eight hits on the day, led by Josiah Burney and Tyler Urps with two hits each. Monarch junior catcher Mike Perez threw out two runners on the day and ODU also turned in two more double plays to increase their school record to 62.
ODU and Rice played a three-game league series, March 7-9 in Houston, TX. with the Owls winning 4-1, then splitting a double-header, 3-2 in 17 innings and ODU winning the nightcap, 2-1 in 10 innings.
Should the Monarchs beat Rice, the two will play again on Saturday for the right to advance to the League Championship game on Sunday.
MTSU 000 001 000=1-6-2 ODU 011 000 00x=2-8-1 MTSU-Frebis and Adkins ODU- Diaz, Ali(7), Overton(8), Gero(9) and Perez HR: MTSU-Stephens (8) WP: Diaz(5-2) LP: Frebis(4-6) Save: Gero (12)