TOWSON, Md. – Senior righthander Ben Tomchick pitched a masterful five-hit shutout as Old Dominion University (11-20, 3-8) snapped its six-game losing streak with a 7-0 Colonial Athletic Association win over the Tigers (14-16, 8-6) in the second game of their three-game weekend series at John B. Schuerholz Park on Saturday afternoon.
Just one day after the Tigers scored 14 runs on 17 hits in a 14-10 victory, Tomchick blanked them on five hits. He had five strikeouts and didn’t walk anyone. One of the top pitchers in the CAA last season when he posted an 8-4 record with a 3.15 E.R.A., Tomchick had struggled this season. He came into Saturday’s game with a 1-3 record and a 5.86 E.R.A.
Tomchick pitched out of a first inning jam when sophomore leftfielder Kurt Wertz grounded into a double play with runners on first and third and one out. It turned out to be the Tigers’ best scoring threat of the afternoon.
With one out in the second inning, the Monarchs rallied to take the lead. With one out, sophomore first baseman Joey Burney lined a single to left centerfield. Freshman catcher Michael Perez also singled to left, giving the Monarchs runners on first and second base. After freshman righthander Taylor Clarke struck out senior third baseman Brent Frazier, senior second baseman Brandon Shelton blooped a single to left, driving in Burney to give ODU a 1-0 lead. Clarke escaped the jam by striking out junior rightfielder Kenneth Belgrave.
After Tomchick got the 1-0 lead, he settled into a nice groove. He retired the Tigers in order in the second inning. In the third inning, sophomore second baseman Pat Fitzgerald led off with a single. However, Perez picked him off first base and Tomchick retired the next two hitters.
Clarke also settled down after the second inning. He retired eight hitters in a row before Shelton walked with one out in the fifth inning. After Shelton reached second on a bunt, he advanced to third base on a wild pitch. But Clarke struck out senior shortstop Josh Wright to end the inning.
In the sixth inning, the Monarchs staged a rally that started with a strikeout. With one out, Clarke struck out senior rightfielder Chris Baker on a pitch in the dirt. When the pitch bounced away from home plate, Baker reached base on the wild pitch. Senior designated hitter Josh Tutwiler followed with a single to right as Baker reached second base. It was ODU’s first hit since the second inning. Burney followed with an RBI single to centerfield, upping the Monarchs’ lead to 2-0. Clarke escaped the inning when he struck out Perez, who interfered with Parker as he was trying to throw out Burney trying to steal second base.
Frazier increased the Monarchs’ lead to 3-0 when he led off the seventh inning with his second home run of the season. After Clarke struck out Shelton, he walked Belgrave. At that point, he was relieved by senior righthander Tyler Austin, who pitched out of the jam.
Held scoreless on three hits through six innings, the Tigers threatened in the bottom of the seventh inning. With one out, Wertz singled to centerfield. With two outs, he stole second base. However, Tomchick retired junior third baseman Zach Fisher on a run-saving stop on a ground ball by Shelton, preserving the shutout.
In the bottom of the eighth, junior catcher Andrew Parker led off with a double to left. However, Tomchick retired the next three hitters in order and the Monarchs took a 3-0 lead to the ninth inning.
In the ninth inning, the Monarchs broke the game open as they took advantage of Austin’s control problems. Perez led off with a walk and went to second base on a sacrifice bunt by Frazier. After Austin struck out Shelton for the second out, Perez advanced to third base on a wild pitch. Moments later, Belgrave singled to centerfield, upping the lead to 4-0. After Belgrave stole second base, Wright drew a walk. When freshman leftfielder Josh Eldridge drew a walk, the bases were loaded.
Baker drove in two runs with a single to right, giving ODU a 6-0 advantage. Sophomore lefthander Kyle Paul replaced Austin on the mound and he gave up an RBI double to Tutwiler, giving the Monarchs a 7-0 lead. Paul finally retired the side when sophomore rightfielder Dominic Fratantuono made a diving catch on Perez’s bid for an extra base hit in right centerfield.
Tomchick nailed down the shutout by retiring the Tigers in order in the bottom of the ninth inning.
While earning his second win of the season, Tomchick threw 106 pitches and 74 of them were strikes. He went to a three-ball count on only three hitters all day and only two Tigers reached third base.
His performance overshadowed a strong outing by Clarke. Clarke allowed just three runs on six hits in 6.1 innings of work. He walked three batters and set a career high with nine strikeouts.
The Monarchs outhit the Tigers by a 9-5 margin. Tutwiler and Burney led ODU with two hits each while Baker had two RBI’s. ODU took advantage of six walks by Tiger pitchers.
Parker led the Tigers by going two-for-three with a double while Winter, Wertz and Fitzgerald accounted for the Tigers’ other hits.
The Tigers and the Monarchs will play the third and deciding game of the CAA weekend series on Sunday afternoon at 1:00 p.m.