This post was written by Hatchet senior staff writer Josh Solomon.
BRONX, NY—The eighth pitcher of the day for the Colonials stood on the mound with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, and the winning run standing 90 feet away.
The pitcher for GW: sophomore Robbie Metz.
The situation for the Colonials: lose and fall to .500 in the conference and, more importantly, risk being on the outside of the postseason picture looking in.
With the outfield not all the way in but closer than normal, Fordham stroked a fly ball into the hard-blowing wind, which was whipping all game. The ball went over the heads of junior outfielders Joey Bartosic and Andrew Selby to score the game winning run.
The Rams won 8–7 to improve to 12-6 in conference play. GW dropped to 9-9.
The two teams entered the weekend tied, toward the top of the bunched-up standings. Now the Colonials sit tied for seventh. Seven teams make the A-10 Championship.
With two weekend series to play, one against Richmond (11-10 A-10) at home and another at Saint Louis (10-8 A-10), GW has control of its own destiny, but it won’t be easy..
“It’s a tough loss, but we have to get ready for next weekend,” junior Bobby Campbell said after the game. Campbell went 1-9 in the series, but drove in nearly half of the team’s total runs.
After two losses Saturday, the team held onto a firm belief that they were better than the Rams. Luck had certainly not gone their way. Their bats were cold for only the second team all season for an extended stretch.
Headed to the bottom of the seventh, it appeared GW’s belief would be confirmed. The team was up 6–2 on Fordham, after playing an all-hands-on-deck style. Head coach Gregg Ritchie said after Saturday’s loss that he would treat the game like a must-win situation.
How did he do so? Ritchie seemed to approach it from an inside-out mentality: Middle reliever, do-it-all bullpen guy, senior Luke Olson started the game and he recorded one out; starter, junior Shane Sweeney came in as a lefty specialist, to strike out the one batter he faced; typical setup man, freshman Justin Friedman then recorded the third out of the first inning; with two outs in the third inning, closer, junior Eddie Muhl came in to pitch with a one run lead; then expected starter Brady Renner entered in the seventh inning in a save situation.
“I just knew today was a must-win game and coach Ritchie told us for everybody to be ready,” Muhl said.
Muhl hit the first batter of the seventh. He then walked the next. Over the 50-pitch mark, a week after throwing 94 pitches in 6.1 innings against VCU, Muhl said he felt fine.
“I was going to go as hard as I can for as long as I can and just try to pass the torch to put us in a good spot,” Muhl said.
He was then tagged with a double to left center, and one run scored. Ritchie then brought in sophomore Brady Renner, who has been the typical Sunday starter in conference play.
Renner recorded one out on a successful safety squeeze, but he also gave up three singles, the final of which gave Fordham the lead for the first time all day.
However, GW fought back to tie the game. In the eighth inning, the Colonials scored one run on a smart play by Selby. With two outs and the tying run at third, he caught the Rams off-guard bunting on an 0-1 count. Selby would make it to second on a poor throw to get him out but they couldn’t drive him in.
In the eighth inning, sophomore Tyler Swiggart started the frame off with a hit-by-pitch that grazed the Fordham batter. That would be it for Swiggart, who would be relieved by sophomore second baseman, and former weekend starter, Robbie Metz. He retired the next three batters he faced to end the inning.
It was the ninth inning where Metz ran into trouble. A one-out ground rule double down the right field line setup Fordham for the win. A ground-out moved the base runner to third. The leadoff hitter, junior Matthew Kozuch, who dominated in this series batting 5-14, was intentionally walked. GW elected not to hold the runner on, allowing him to take second base on defensive indifference.
The next batter, with two outs, singled over the heads of Selby and Bartosic, who sprinted for the ball, but the wind carried it too far, ending a game in which GW did everything to win.
“I think we pitched admirably,” Muhl said. “We all tried to do our best to give us a chance to win.”
Bad breaks plagued the Colonials all weekend, but the team’s calculated, risky moves – which normally pay off – did not factor into wins.
Instead GW enters the week with a non-conference game on Wednesday at Delaware State, and will play its final homestand against Richmond during graduation weekend.
Every game will seem to weigh more heavily now, with a chance to qualify for the A-10 Tournament now on the line.