Former Ocean Springs Greyhound ready for ODU's matchup with Rice

HATTIESBURG, MS (WLOX) - The Old Dominion Monarchs had already lost to Middle Tennessee State 3-2 on the first day of the Conference USA baseball tournament.

That meant another loss would send the team based out of Norfolk, Virginia, back to the east coast.

The Monarchs then ripped off two straight wins since heading to the losers' bracket. ODU defeated FIU 3-2 Thursday before avenging Wednesday's loss with a 2-1 win over MTSU Friday.

Former Ocean Springs Greyhound and Mississippi Gulf Coast Bulldog Ben Slaton didn't play in the win Friday, but he did record two hits in five at bats in the team's victory Thursday. Head coach Chris Finwood decided to sit the left-handed hitter in the win over the Blue Raiders because MTSU started a left-handed pitcher.

"We have a bunch of hungry guys wanting to keep playing and extend their career another day," said Slaton, who is a senior outfielder for the Monarchs. "(It's about) finding ways to win. It's not always pretty, but you find a way to get it done."

Old Dominion must now pick up two wins Saturday against the Rice Owls, which is a team ranked No. 17 according to Baseball America. The Owls (39-17, 23-7) have won five straight games, including a 9-2 win over FIU and an 8-2 victory over Middle Tennessee in the conference tournament.

Rice won two of three games against Old Dominion in the two teams' first Conference USA series of the season. The Owls won 4-1 Fri., March 7, in game one of the series.

The two teams then played a scheduled doubleheader the following day, but at the end of the twinbill, the total inning count made it seem like three full games were played.

Rice picked up a 3-2 victory that lasted 17 innings in the first game before Old Dominion won 2-1 in 10 innings in game three.

"We always look forward to playing Rice," Slaton said. "You know what you're getting when you play those guys. Obviously they're a talented ball club, but all three games of the regular season we played them, it was a dog fight. That's what we're looking forward to. Hopefully we come out on top again."