ODU Baseball Falls to LA Tech, 7-2, in Conference USA Baseball Tournament

by Harry Minium

HATTIESBURG, Miss. † The day after Old Dominion pounded out 14 hits and five home runs in just seven innings, Louisiana Tech pitcher Ryan Jennings nearly silenced ODU’s bats on Thursday in a 7-2 Louisiana Tech win.

Jennings, a junior from New Braunfels, Texas, threw a no-hitter against one of the nation’s most potent offenses for 6 1/3 innings and the Bulldog bullpen finished off a 7-2 victory that sent ODU to Thursday’s loser’s bracket.

The Monarchs meet Charlotte Thursday at 2:30 (ESPN +) in the what could be a must-win game if ODU is to return to the NCAA Tournament.

ODU (39-15) blew out Middle Tennessee on Wednesday, 18-7, to win its eighth in a row. But the Monarchs felt like they needed to win two games in the C-USA tournament to assure themselves of an NCAA bid.

ODU won the C-USA title last season, beating LA Tech in the championship game, and advanced to the NCAA Regional finals.

Charlotte will be a tough team to beat. The 49ers lost to LA Tech, 4-0, on Wednesday, but then blew out Middle Tennessee, 22-0, in a second-round game.

It will be a matchup of two potent offenses. Charlotte (35-21) led Conference USA with 463 runs scored this season. ODU was second with 442. ODU, meanwhile, led the league with a .550 slugging percentage while Charlotte was second at .493.

Charlotte took two of three games from ODU in Norfolk in late March, winning 11-4 and 12-4 before dropping a 13-12 loss in 10 innings.

Nick Pantos, a senior right hander from Rockville, Maryland, started for ODU and largely pitched well, getting eight of the last 10 players he faced. He left in the bottom of the sixth with two outs and a man on base and LA Tech holding a 4-0 lead.

But Wade Elliott, Taylor Young and Philip Matulia all singled in runs off relief pitchers to make it 7-0.

ODU finally broke up the no-hitter in the top of the seventh, as Matt Coutney and Brock Gagliardic both singled, and were moved over the second and third on a sacrifice bunt from Andy Garriola

Jennings, whose fastball was still in the low 90s, struck out Kenny Levaric swinging to end the threat.

The Bulldogs scored three runs in the third inning on just two hits largely because ODU allowed too many base runners. Two Bulldogs were hit by pitches and another walked.

With the bases loaded, Logan McLeod hit a sacrifice fly to center to score a run. Young then singled to center field to score two more.

The Bulldogs scored again in the third on a ground rule double by Jorge Corona that fell just outside the reach of Garriola, who appeared to lose the ball briefly in the sun.

Jennings was relieved in the eighth by Kyle Crigger. In the ninth he allowed a two-out single to Brock Gagliardic and Andy Garriola followed with a two-run homer, but that was all for the Monarchs.

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