This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Josh Solomon
After stringing together five-straight must-win games to keep its hopes of a second consecutive playoff berth alive, the baseball team’s run fell short Friday in a 4-3 loss to St. Bonaventure.
The loss, combined with two wins by Richmond over Rhode Island and two wins by Fordham over VCU on Thursday, ended the Colonials’ chances at a berth in next week’s Atlantic 10 Championships.
The loss came on the heels of an impressive run in which GW, one of the youngest teams in the country, almost made a major statement in the conference by winning what would have been its seventh-straight game.
“[They’re] a bunch of young guys and they came within an eyelash of making the playoffs,” head coach Gregg Ritchie said.
GW could not get one more solid start from sophomore Jacob Williams, who Ritchie said is usually one of his most consistent players. The young right-hander failed to command his pitches, particularly his curveball. He battled through five innings, finishing with five hits and three runs, two earned.
On the offensive end, the Colonials played catch-up for the majority of the ball game. In the sixth inning, three key freshmen launched a two-run rally that tied the game. Joey Bartoisc led off the inning with a single and advanced by stealing second base. Andrew Selby followed by hitting a triple to right field, scoring Bartosic. Bobby Campbell then drove Selby home with a groundout RBI.
Down by one in the top of the eighth inning, GW pushed across one run to tie the game courtesy of a double by senior Owen Beightol and sloppy defense by the Bonnies.
After the two previous ties in the game, senior closer Colin Milon was on the mound for the Colonials in the bottom of the eighth inning with the game tied at 3-3.
The first pitch of the eighth got away from Milon and the Bonnies hitter capitalized, clearing the fence with a few inches to spare. Milon, who had a career year after moving into the fireman role when Craig LeJeune went down with a season-ending injury, was able to regain control and retire the next three St. Bonaventure batters. Ritchie said he expected nothing less from his closer, telling him after the game to keep his head high after “a hell of a year.”
Milon managed to retire the side after trouble early in the inning, which gave the Colonials a shot to make a run in the top of the ninth.
After freshman catcher John Steele reached on an error to lead off the inning, GW tried to execute one of its fairly successful hit and runs – a play that the team had started to use regularly down the stretch. A swing and a miss by freshman Eli Kashi dismantled the play, and Steele was thrown out at second.
Kashi ended the inning at bat with a strikeout and was followed by a ground out by Bartosic to end the game as well as playoff hopes for the Colonials.
It wasn’t their best game, Ritchie said, but it certainly was not their worst. Since the series with La Salle in mid April, Ritchie has credited his team with playing solid ball during every game within the last week.
“If you can’t say you were not disappointed by not moving on, you’re lying,” Ritchie said.
Without mustering another run GW, ended their bid for the seventh and final spot in the A-10 Championships. It was a run that few predicted for a team that started as many as seven freshmen in the lineup.
“It was about rebuilding the program and getting competitive and developing a line of leaders of consistency,” Ritchie said. “Every year, you play to make the playoffs and move on, and that’s the part we didn’t achieve. However, the rebuilding and the growth was simply enormous.”
After Saturday’s final regular season game against St. Bonaventure, the Colonials will lose several crucial members, including pitchers Aaron Weisberg, Luke Staub, Milon and LeJeune.
On the offensive side, Saturday’s game will mark the last for outfielder Owen Beightol, the team’s best hitter. With one game to play, Beightol leads the Colonials this season with a .364 batting average, 63 total hits and 29 runs scored. Beightol will be ranked third all-time in career at bats and second all-time in games played. He also ranks 22nd all time in RBI and 11th all time with 212 hits.
GW will conclude its season Saturday against St. Bonaventure at noon.