With seven teams and 12 games in four days, the walkup music playlist at Tucker Field is getting a workout. One suggestion could be Johnny Nash’s “I Can See Clearly Now.”
Because, with the rain gone Friday morning in a game postponed from Thursday afternoon, the Colonials could see clearly. They gathered 11 hits and four walks against six Richmond pitchers in a 7-2 win to survive and move on in the Atlantic 10 championship.
Or, the guys running the PA system could try Taylor Swift’s “Better Than Revenge.” GW dealt some payback to the Spiders team that dealt them a 4-1 loss Wednesday in the tournament opener, a game in which the Colonials struck out six times and left nine men on base.
“We knew who we had to face. Our backs were against the wall so we knew we weren’t going to end this way, against a team we just lost to two days ago. So we knew we were going to come out and make a statement,” said first baseman Bobby Campbell, who collected three hits and one RBI during the game.
Every member of the starting lineup, save shortstop Kevin Mahala who had a rough day at the plate including a soft groundout that left the diamond loaded, reached base.
“I thought the guys came out right away and were aggressive and that was the big thing. We were looking to hunt fastballs early, lay off all the soft stuff and it paid off with our at bats and it kind of wore the guy down a little bit,” said head coach Gregg Ritchie.
Richmond starter Brendan McGuigan threw 73 pitches through five innings, giving up three runs, two earned, on six hits and two walks before being relieved by Keenan Bartlett.
Bartlett would record just one out. The Colonials entered the sixth with a 3-2 lead, but broke out to score four runs in the inning.
Sophomore Cody Bryant, inserted into the lineup in place of Colin Gibbons-Fly and batting ninth, knocked a one-out single to get things started. Freshman Mark Osis came in to pinch run for the slow third baseman. Sophomore left fielder Joey Bartosic hit into what should have been a fielder’s choice at second, but an error by the second baseman put Osis, who had the composure and instinct to know to run, at third and Bartosic at first.
“That was a big moment that actually sparked everything when Osis took third. It looks like a little thing, but it’s probably one of the bigger moments in the inning,” Ritchie said.
The speedy Bartosic then took second on a passed ball. Sophomore second baseman Eli Kashi dropped down a bunt and took first while Osis scored, rookie pitcher Robbie Metz followed with a single which scored Bartosic, and freshman catcher Brandon Chapman reached first to load the bases on a fly ball that was dropped by Richmond’s left fielder.
A five-pitch walk to sophomore right fielder Andrew Selby scored Kashi and got Bartlett yanked from the game for righty Dan Martinson. His first batter, Campbell, bunted in his direction. Bartlett scooped up the ball but couldn’t decide whether to toss it to first or to home and stood, looking back and forth down the first base line, as Metz crossed home plate and Campbell took first. He ended the inning two batters later, but the Colonials had a 7-2 lead.
“As a team we were all seeing it well, we were all feeling good and confident,” Campbell said.
The tough inning was a look at what might have been for GW. Metz got into a two-out, bases loaded jam in the third and was quickly relieved of his duties after walking in a run. He exited having given up two runs, both earned, on six hits and two walks.
But Metz’s relieving crew picked him up. Ritchie hadn’t planned to have Metz go past four innings on the mound in any case, so Luke Olson was ready to go and switch things up on the hill.
“It was a completely different look,” Ritchie said. “A guy [Metz] throwing mid, upper 80’s with a hammer straight down, located away, away, away and then all of a sudden a guy [Olson] who is big and long and slow, sweepy.”
Olson came in throwing strikes low in the zone and using his changeup and got out of the inning with a fielder’s choice grounder to limit the damage. He and Craig LeJeune quieted the big bats of Richmond, finishing out the game with 6.1 scoreless innings of relief. Each allowed just three hits and LeJeune struck out four.
“As teammates we love to pick each other up,” Olson said. “Just stay cool, calm, collected, it can’t be like any different game, it’s just like any regular season game. I just take it the same way.”
With the win, the Colonials move on to play the winner of the game between No. 1 seed Saint Louis and No. 4 seed Davidson Friday night at 8:30.