Courtside

Your Guide to GW sports

Sunday, April 1, 2012 8:30 p.m.

Colonials rally past Shepherd for a baseball weekend series split

Senior Eric Lara releases a pitch during a home game against Shepherd Sunday morning in Arlington Va. Michael Boosalis | Hatchet Photographer

This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Nick Ong

After four innings of play in the finale of a two-game series against Shepherd, the Colonials looked to be falling victim to a pattern that has plagued them all season- struggling to garner just enough hits to push past an opponent.  But thanks to two huge outbursts in the fifth and sixth innings, GW was able to come out on top 8-5, splitting the series with the Rams.

The Colonials were slightly edged by Shepherd Saturday, falling 2-1. It was a contest that saw GW unable to best the Rams’ pitchers, failing to score after the first, and one that head coach Steve Mrowka said forced his team out of comfortable play.

“When we came off that game yesterday, we just started pressing a little bit, trying too hard,” head coach Steve Mrowka said.  “And then we started again today, fell behind; the same thing was going on.”

Shepherd got out to a quick start Sunday, using the combination of some small ball tactics and their power-hitting first baseman Nathan Minnich to drive in the first run of the game.  Over the next few innings, the Colonials watched as the Rams continued to push runs in.

With Shepherd up 5-1, junior Derek Brown’s single in the third gave GW its first run of the day jumpstarted the Colonial bats. Mrowka told his players to take pitches and just get on base, he said after the game, and the team was able to start their fifth inning rally.

The Colonials got one run back after two walks and two singles, but it was freshman Grant Brown’s bases-loaded double that brought them back to within one.  Even a new Rams pitcher couldn’t stop the rally, as junior right fielder Kyle Gelling tied up the game with a base knock.  When the inning ended, the Colonials had captured their first lead of the day, 6-5.

“I think their guy got a little tired and we started working some better counts,” Mrowka said.  “Guys got their pitches, hit them square, and it started to fall in for us a little bit and then the guys relaxed.”

Momentum was the key, Brown said. Throughout the year the team has fed off of momentum, building it up and often scoring many of their runs in one inning.  The key factor is confidence at the plate, Brown said, proving himself right after driving in four of the Colonials’ eight runs on the day.

“I just kind of went up there and told myself I’m going to own this pitcher,” Brown said.  “I said its me and him and I’m going to win the battle every time, no matter which pitcher it is.”

Keeping the Rams bats quiet for the majority of the game was junior southpaw Kenny O’Brien.  Coming into the game at the start of the fourth after starting junior pitcher Tyler McCarthy struggled, giving up three runs over three innings, O’Brien pitched consistent baseball for the next five innings.

The junior relinquished just two runs to the Rams, eventually getting the win. O’Brien’s performance was the type of play the Colonials have come to expect from the pitcher, Mrowka said, indicative of his consistent performance on the mound.

“He’s been our go to guy,” Mrowka said.  “We usually save him for the second half of the game, but today, the game was in the balance in the third, fourth, and fifth innings, so we had to enter the game with one of our best pitchers.  Once he got settled in there, he just gave us life, kept us in the game and we had the rally.  Baseball 101.”

The win brings the Colonials record to 10-17 on the season, and the team is hopeful for many victories now that they have a renewed of a homefield advantage with the new Barcroft Park.

“I think everyone’s just really excited, and you can tell,” Brown said.  “The atmosphere’s just so much more positive now that we’ve got this new field.”