NORFOLK, Va. (ODUSports.com) – The No. 24-ranked Old Dominion baseball team received five solid innings from starter Sam Armstrong and 14 hits from 11 different players in a 19-1 win over Iona on Sunday afternoon. Armstrong allowed just one run on two hits while striking out seven in his ODU debut.
“We came out really focused today,” head coach Chris Finwood said. “Sam Armstrong gave us a really good start, striking out seven and walking no one in five innings. Then the bullpen came in and really threw the ball well. Hitting wise, we took advantage of their walks, manufactured some runs early and then got the bats going. We also played errorless baseball the entire weekend, which always pleases me. We got lots of things to work on, but we’ll get back to work and get ready for Binghamton.”
The Monarchs (3-0) had seven of their 14 hits go for extra bases and drew 12 walks from Iona (0-3). Thomas Wheeler, Andrea Dalatri and Luke Waters all had two-hit days. Josh Trujillo went 1-for-3 and walked twice, and Robbie Petracci drew three walks to go along with one hit.
Pitching for the first time this season, Armstrong, a transfer from County College of Morris, made one mistake all day. After a quick out to start the game, he surrendered a solo home run to Jake Field but rebounded to end the inning. ODU soon knotted the score in the bottom of the inning after Wheeler walked, advanced to second on a throwing error by the pitcher, moved to third on a grounder and scored via a sacrifice fly off the bat of Kenny Levari.
Armstrong mowed down the Gaels in the second inning with a trio of strikeouts. The ODU bats rewarded the 6-2 sophomore with four more runs in the bottom of the second. Petracci doubled with one out, and Brock Gagliardi drew a walk to load the bases for Tommy Bell. Bell was hit by a pitch to make it 2-1. Wheeler followed with a run-scoring single to the second baseman before Trujillo walked home another run. Levari then grounded out to second to plate the fourth and final run of the inning.
Levari drove home four runs on Sunday, going 0-for-1 with three sacrifice flies.
Armstrong made it eight consecutive batters retired with a pair of strikeouts in the third. He then retired the first two batters in the fourth before Nick Forney delivered Iona’s last hit of the game on a double down the line in left.
ODU loaded the bases in the fourth and scored two more runs to make it a 7-1 score. Armstrong then put a bow on his day with two more strikeouts in a clean top of the fifth.
The Monarchs once again punished the Gaels for issuing free passes in the fifth. Andy Garriola led off the frame by being hit by a pitch before Petracci and Gagliardi walked back-to-back to load the bases. Bell then doubled to drive home Garriola and Petracci before Wheeler grounded out to score Gagliardi. After a walk and another Levari sacrifice fly, Carter Trice provided a two-out double to drive home Trujillo.
Finwood then turned to the bullpen for the final four innings and received near-perfect pitching. Blake Morgan, Noah Dean, Brad Dobzanski and Vincent Bashara combined for four innings of no-hit ball with just one walk and five strikeouts. Morgan made his collegiate debut in the sixth and threw a clean inning.
Now deep into the bench, the Monarchs had one final big inning, scoring four times in the bottom of the seventh. Dalatri laced a leadoff double into center before he scored on a pinch-hit double by Waters. Garriola then left the yard with a two-run shot before James Tarkenton II walked and scored on a double from Robby Barrientos.
The double was the first hit for Waters in his collegiate career. He also singled in the bottom of the eighth inning to drive home Dalatri for the final run of the game.
Dean worked around a walk in the seventh inning. Dobzanski retired the Gaels in order in the eighth, and Bashara struck out two in the ninth inning.
Through three games this season, the Monarchs have not committed a fielding error. ODU’s pitchers have combined for 30 strikeouts and just eight walks.
ODU has all week to rest before hosting Binghamton for three games starting Friday at 3 p.m.