HATTIESBURG, MS (WTKR)- The longball has been a big part of Old Dominion's season. Wednesday saw that trend follow the Monarchs to the postseason as well.
ODU smacked five home runs and only needed seven innings to take care of Middle Tennessee, downing the Blue Raiders, 18-7, in their Conference USA Tournament opener. The victory marks the Monarchs' eighth in a row and improves their record to 39-15.
Kenny Levari's three-run homer highlighted a four run first inning to give the silver and blue an early 4-0 lead. After the Blue Raiders trimmed the advantage to 4-3 in the second, Old Dominion exploded for seven runs in the fourth frame to break it open. Middle Tennessee added three runs in the sixth, but the Monarchs put up another seven-spot in their half of the inning to wrap up the runaway.
Chris Dengler posted his first career two-home run performance, while Brock Gagliardi added a grand slam and Matt Coutney chipped in a round-tripper to his conference leading total, belting his 26th of the season.
Coutney, the Conference USA Player of the Year, paced the Monarchs, going 4-for-5 with the homer and three RBI. Dengler went 3-for-4 and drove in four runs. Every ODU starter reached base at least once.
Blake Morgan looked sharp for most of his day, giving up six runs, only three of them earned, in 5.2 innings of work. The C-USA Freshman of the Year struck out one and walked one batter.
Old Dominion advances in the winners bracket and will face either Louisiana Tech of Charlotte on Thursday at 1:30 PM.