NORFOLK, Va. -- Head coach Chris Finwood collected his 400th career head coaching win and Old Dominion swept preseason Conference USA favorite Rice in a doubleheader on Friday at the Bud Metheny Complex.
Old Dominion (14-4, 2-0 C-USA) defeated Rice (6-15, 0-2 C-USA) in come-from-behind fashion in both games, as the Monarchs topped the Owls, 6-5, in game one and followed with a 3-2 victory in game two. ODU is now 6-1 on the season in one-run games.
In Game 1, the Monarchs walked off for the third time this season, as Vinnie Pasquantino's sac fly with the bases loaded and one out in the ninth scored Jared Young. The run came after ODU tied the game at 5-5 with three runs in the bottom of the eighth.
The first seven innings was a pitcher's duel between Sam Sinnen and Matt Canterino, as the two right-handers exchanged quick innings. Canterino and the Owls carried a 3-2 lead into the eighth, despite seven strong innings from Sinnen. The senior from Virginia Beach allowed three earned runs on six hits, while striking out four and walking none.
The Owls extended its lead to 5-2 with a pair of insurance runs in the top of the eighth, but ODU answered in the bottom of the frame. Will Morgan opened the scoring with an infield RBI single and Nick Walker pulled the Monarchs within one, scoring on a wild pitch in the next at bat. Shaun Wood then tied the game with a RBI single.
Michael Blanchard, who earned his first career victory, pitched a perfect ninth, before ODU's late-game heroics led to the walkoff win. All four runs in the final two frames came off of preseason All-American Glenn Otto, who had not allowed an earned run entering the game.
Young led ODU at the plate, going 2-for-4 with a home run, the first of his ODU career, and two runs. Pasquantino led the team with two RBIs and Bryce Windham reached base three times out of the nine hole, going 1-for-2 with two runs scored.
In Game 2, senior lefty Adam Bainbridge continued his hot start to the season, going 8.1 innings and allowing two earned runs on six hits. Bainbridge, who improved to 4-1 on the season, also fanned six.
The Monarchs opened the scoring with a run in the first, as back-to-back doubles from Pasquantino and Zach Rutherford gave ODU the early lead. Rice scored its only runs in the game in the top of the fourth on three hits and maintained that lead until the sixth inning, when Morgan scored Rutherford with an RBI groundout to tie the game at 2-2.
In the bottom of the seventh, Kurt Sinnen scored what proved to be the winning run on a wild pitch. After Bainbridge held the Owls scoreless for the eighth and then one out in the ninth, Craig Lopez came in for the finals two outs for his second save of the season.
Rutherford led ODU at the plate in the second game, as the junior shortstop went 3-for-4 with two doubles and an RBI.
ODU and Rice conclude the series tomorrow at 6 p.m. Freshman John Wilson is expected to get the start against Rice's Dane Myers.