This post was written by Hatchet senior staff writer Josh Solomon.
Senior, ace of the staff, Bobby LeWarne pitched nine innings in GW’s series opener against VCU.
A chance to take over first place in the conference was at stake.
LeWarne threw up zeros from the third inning on. But that didn’t matter when the other side was throwing a no-hitter.
The Rams’ freshman Michael Dailey held the Colonials hitless into the ninth. GW brought up two pinch hitters to start the inning. A sinking line drive was caught on a head-first diving catch by the left fielder. A ground ball out took care of the second.
GW’s speedy leadoff hitter, junior Joey Bartosic then grounded a ball to short. He beat the throw, with no complaints from the VCU bench. And with that, Dailey exited the game.
But GW was down three after LeWarne gave up one run in the first and two in the second.
So the Rams sent in their closer, who leads the country in saves, to record the final out. He got sophomore Robbie Metz to pop up to second base to end the game, misexecuting the gameplay. Sophomore Mark Osis loomed on deck.
“We were absolutely trying to win it,” head coach Gregg Ritchie said. “You’re looking for Osis to come in against that guy, who’s going to [throw a breaking ball], right back into the barrel, leave the yard and all of a sudden we have a tied game. I was thinking that the whole way.”
VCU (11-5) won 3-0, but there was no, no-hitter Friday afternoon under the lights on a cool, overcast day at The Tuck.
There was also no win by GW (8-5), which will make a series win over the Rams difficult. The two teams will square off in a doubleheader Saturday, starting at noon, because of the expected inclement weather Sunday.
“I have a lot of confidence in our team,” LeWarne said.”But sometimes the game just doesn’t go your way.”
Bobby “The Bull” ran into an issue in the first, eventually loading the bases with one out. He forced a fly out to right. The strong relay throw in hit the cutoff man and was directed to third base, where the Colonials picked up the third out of the inning, but not before VCU scored one run.
The inning was helped by a hit by pitch call. After LeWarne hit the batter, Ritchie went out to discuss the call. The batter may have been over the plate, and not within the confines of the box, of which the details of the official rule have changed in the past few years.
“It’s a hard rule for everybody,” Ritchie said. “It’s not the umpire’s fault, it’s not the coach’s fault. It’s a tough rule that I think we need to continue to look at.”
Regardless a run scored and then LeWarne gave up another two in the second, in part because of an error on a pickoff play to second. The two runs were brought in on a double off the left center field wall, which today’s left fielder, junior Eric Ramsey bobbled for a moment eliminating a chance for a relay throw to get the second out. Sophomore Mark Osis, still plagued by a hamstring injury, was at designated hitter instead of in left again.
“I just wanted to get on the mound and keep throwing zeros,” LeWarne said. “Give us a chance to win.”
GW did not get lucky during the game though. Often a hit or two will sneak through the infield or bloop in front of an outfielder, particularly when the team has been playing well.
As the innings rolled on, it was clear that the couple hard hit balls junior Bobby Campbell hit and the ball junior Kevin Mahala hit to the warning track in center were not going to land for hits today. A bunt attempt by junior Andrew Selby went foul. A hit and run by junior Eli Kashi failed.
“He’s a consummate strike thrower,” Ritchie said. “You’re going to get pitches to hit. It’s whether hit stuff is working and whether you’re on the ball.”
Ritchie cited too many fly ball outs as an issue for them today. The approach at the plate wasn’t what he had wanted, knowing his team needed to put the ball on the ground to use their speed to their advantage.
Mahala weakly hit the first pitch of his at bat to lead off the eighth inning, after making a specular sliding, spinning and twirling throw from the hole at short to end the top half of the inning. It seemed to be a chance to shift momentum, with a lively bench ready to react to anything
“To take a not-your-swing type swing on the first pitch with nobody on, leading off is just a wasted opportunity,” Ritchie said.
And if it was wasn’t for Bartosic’s hustle two-out, ninth inning single the game would have entered the conference record books.
Tomorrow, GW will gear up to play two. The bullpen is fresh, without a midweek game this week because of a rainout against James Madison, and LeWarne’s complete game.
Who will start game one though, junior Shane Sweeney, the usual Saturday starter, or sophomore Brady Renner, the typical Sunday starter still being stretched out from his shoulder strain?
“Don’t know,” Ritchie said.
When will Ritchie know?
“I’ll know when he gets in the bullpen.”
“Whoever it is.”