Campbell Camels defeat Old Dominion, win first-ever NCAA tournament game

CorrespondentMay 31, 2014 

— Forgive Campbell baseball coach Greg Goff if he enjoys his Saturday night a little more than usual. The Camels won the baseball program’s first NCAA tournament game in 12 innings Saturday afternoon with a 4-1 victory over Old Dominion in an elimination game of the Columbia regional at Carolina Stadium.

“That’s the very first win in a regional in Campbell history, and that’s a huge step forward for us,” Goff said. “We’ll enjoy it tonight.”

Campbell advances to another elimination contest at 1 p.m. Sunday against the loser of Saturday night’s contest between No. 2 seed Maryland and top-seeded South Carolina.

The Camels (41-20) broke open a pitching duel with three runs in the 12th inning. Matt Parrish and Will Albertson started the rally by drawing walks off of losing pitcher Conner Overton. Victor Diaz came in for Old Dominion and hit Seth LaRue with a pitch to load the bases with no outs.

Elijah Trail followed with a single down the left-field line past a drawn-in infield to score pinch-runner Drew Butler with the go-ahead run. Brooks Borders, who played his final high school game at Carolina Stadium when Hammond captured the 3A S.C. Independent Schools Association state title, then delivered another single to score Albertson. LaRue also scored when the throw from right field went to the backstop.

Borders couldn’t have asked for more of the victory in Columbia.

“It’s hard to put into words,” he said. “I’ve been to so many games here growing up. I’ve been coming to Carolina games since I moved here in the fifth grade. To be here and play in this environment and a regional environment is awesome.”

Campbell relied on the pitching of Hector Cedano and Ryan Thompson. Cedano started and handcuffed the Monarchs (36-26) to one run on five hits with one strike and three walks. He had runners in scoring position in the second and third innings but got out of those jams. Old Dominion scored its only run on a double-play ground ball in the fourth inning.

“I located my fastball and slider and just let them hit it and let my defense be a big part of my success today,” Cedano said.

Goff was impressed with the performance of Cedano, who left after 100 pitches after one batter in the eighth inning. Cedano got the no-decision, but the team improved to 15-1 in games in which he’s started.

“Hector isn’t flashy and just pitches to contact,” Goff said. “We play good defense behind him.”

The Camels turned it over to Thompson, the All-American closer who allowed one hit over the final five innings with five strikeouts and one intentional walk. But that is what is expected of the senior who improved to 7-2 on the season and had a school record 17 saves. He was the MVP of the Big South tournament. He also pitched against South Carolina on Friday night.

“Our guys are so confident when he’s in,” Goff said of Thompson. “When we brought him in, they thought we were going to win. That makes a big difference in this game, having that confidence.”

Thompson said having confidence in his slider was key. He also said he would be ready to pitch again on Sunday despite throwing 62 pitches Saturday.

“My slider has been awful lately but I got it back today,” Thompson said. “It was a great feeling to just be me again. That was a big key for me. It’s my last go around, so I’m going to do whatever I can to prepare myself. We have a great athletic trainer and he’s going to be working on me a few hours tonight. I feel sorry for him but I will be back (Sunday).”

Campbell expects to start Ryan Koopman (8-1, 2.79 ERA) on Sunday.

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