HATTIESBURG – Old Dominion senior Ben Slaton is getting an extended stay in his native South Mississippi during the Conference USA Tournament.
ODU topped Middle Tennessee, 2-1, Friday at Pete Taylor Park to stay alive in the C-USA Tournament. The Monarchs have won back-to-back games since losing the opener, 3-2, to the same Blue Raiders on Wednesday.
“It's awesome, everything we've asked for,” said Slaton, an Ocean Springs native. “Right now, we're trying to find ways to get it done. The beauty of it is we're just a bunch of hungry guys wanting to keep playing and extend our career a day. We're finding ways to win. It's not always pretty, but we'll find a way to get it done.”
No. 5 Old Dominion (35-23) takes on No. 1 seed Rice (39-17) at 9 a.m. today. The Monarchs have to beat Rice twice today to advance to Sunday's 1 p.m. championship game.
The Monarchs lost two of three in the league-opening series against Rice in early March.
“We always look forward to playing Rice,” Slaton said. “You know what you're getting when you play those guys. They're obviously a talented ball club. In all three games we played them in the regular season, it was a dog fight. Hopefully, we'll come out on top again.”
Slaton was a baseball standout for Ocean Springs High School and Mississippi Gulf Coast. He has had a nice following of family and friends in Hattiesburg over the first three days of competition.
“They've made a great turnout for every game,” Slaton said. “I think I've used everybody's pass list on the whole team. It's been great. They've been great supporters.”
Slaton, a left-handed slugger, sat out Friday's game because Middle Tennessee threw left-hander John Frebis.
Slaton is typically ODU's designated hitter and he is 2-of-8 with two runs scored during the tournament. For the season, Slaton is batting .280 with three homers and is second on the team with 40 RBIs.
Slaton believes his team is fully capable of winning two games today to get to Sunday's title game.
“I think at this point you just find a way to get it done,” he said. “It's not always going to be perfect. You're most likely going to have to bring some guys back on short rest. That's part of it. We've got a tough bunch and they'll find a way to get it done. If they'll give us one here and one there, we'll take that.”