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Senior Colin Milon, a pitcher for GW's baseball team, spoke to members of the baseball team, men's rowing team and their family and friends during a special commencement ceremony. Kendall Payne | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Senior Colin Milon, a pitcher for GW’s baseball team, spoke to members of the baseball team, men’s rowing team and their family and friends during a special commencement ceremony. Kendall Payne | Hatchet Staff Photographer

The first graduates of the Class of 2014 flipped their tassels from right to left Tuesday as University President Steven Knapp, alongside Provost Steven Lerman, presented diplomas to seniors on the men’s rowing and baseball teams at the athletics commencement ceremony.

The athletes will be unable to attend Commencement on Sunday, with baseball closing out the regular season at St. Bonaventure and men’s rowing competing in the Eastern Sprints in Worcester, Mass. In lieu of a walk on the National Mall, friends, family, coaches and teammates gathered in the Dorothy Betts Marvin Theatre for speeches and the presentation of diplomas. Here are five takeaway moments from the ceremony.

1. Lerman: “It’s not easy to be an athlete.”

Though student speaker and baseball pitcher Colin Milon joked about pulling on sweatpants and skipping the line at the GW Deli to make it to class on time, administrators lauded the graduates for juggling course work, practices, games and, as baseball head coach Gregg Ritchie said, “all that college life offers.” Both Ritchie and men’s rowing head coach Mark Davis urged the group, which wore gold scarves embroidered with the label “student athlete,” to think of their time spent on the river or at the ballpark as another facet of their education.

“Don’t think these aren’t life lessons,” Ritchie said. “There’s a reason being an athlete opens doors.”

2. Milon: “The bond we form as teammates is stronger than blood.”

Though mothers with cameras, fathers holding cigar boxes, siblings, professors and friends filled the audience, younger teammates from men’s rowing and baseball made up the largest portion of the audience. Milon emphasized the relationships formed among players, providing a glimpse into a close-knit pocket of a larger University.

“I look over and see a group of brothers,” Milon said.

3. How far they’ve come

The senior classes from both teams showcased an athletics department that has transformed during their four years. Davis thanked rowers Trofym Anderson, Kasey Colander, Matthew Grieshaber and James Stafford “for taking a chance” on a poorly funded team as the first class in program history to receive athletic scholarships. Four years later, the team has had its best-ever season, climbing in the national rankings and at one point winning 21 races straight.

Milon joked about the pre-renovation Barcroft Park, calling it the “worst D-1 field in America,” and proudly recounted his team’s unlikely run last year to the playoffs, where it won nine of its last 10 games to make the postseason for the first time since 2006. Milon and fellow baseball seniors Owen Beightol, Taylor Lambke, Craig LeJeune, Lucas Staub and Aaron Weisberg will see one more series if yet another strong finish can squeak them in.

4. Ritchie: “You make your own luck.”

Ritchie spoke about “character muscles” that players build through competition and training. Speakers congratulated athletes for creating their own success at GW and compelled them to keep pushing themselves.

“It is imperative for you to know that, although you are leaving campus, you are walking towards opportunity with the strength and savvy and the dedication and determination of a GW Colonial,” Ritchie said.

5. Setting a serious tone

The ceremony that kicked off Commencement week was celebratory but also had more serious moments. Knapp’s first graduation speech tasked seniors with remedying global challenges, asking them to “repair what earlier generations have broken, to build what we have left un-built and to heal what we have so far left unhealed.”

Davis was similarly weighty in his remarks, telling the athletes to expect hardships after graduation.

“As rowers, as oarsmen, you always strive for still water,” Davis said. “You don’t get that very often.”

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Reliever Kenny O’Brien surrendered a run in his two innings Friday, and the Colonials grabbed a ninth-inning win against Rhode Island. Hatchet File Photo by Cameron Lancaster

This post was written by Hatchet reporters Sean Hurd and Josh Solomon.

There were plenty of bad omens in the Colonials’ elimination game against Rhode Island.

There was the lightning strike near home plate Thursday night, which delayed the game until the next morning while GW was rallying. There was a blown save in the ninth inning Friday from usually reliable Craig LeJeune, putting GW’s surprise season on the ropes.

But in the end, GW caught a break, and sealed a 5-4 walkoff win on light-hitting Xavier Parkmond’s bases-loaded infield single.

Parkmond, who was 0-4 coming into the at bat, got the irregular start at catcher for the elimination game against Rhode Island. He stroked the second pitch of the at bat to the shortstop who could not get a throw off to home in time to cut off the winning run.

It was a strange, seesaw, two-day victory. But it kept the Colonials’ season alive, sending them to a matchup Friday afternoon against top-seeded Saint Louis.

After a thunderstorm delayed the game from Thursday night with the score knotted at 1-1 in the fifth, side-winding senior Kenny O’Brien relieved junior Aaron Weisberg. O’Brien gave up the lead on a deep RBI double down the left field line.

But GW came alive in the bottom of the seventh. With two outs and one man on, senior Derek Brown lifted a ball way out to right field that left the ballpark in a hurry, sending GW up 3-2.

Head coach Gregg Ritchie, named the Atlantic 10 Coach of the Year this week, then called on his closer LeJeune to pitch the two final innings. He breezed through his first inning of work, retiring the batters in order, but then did not have the same luck in the ninth.

A blooper, walk, and a single loaded the bases with no outs, signaling nothing but trouble for the Colonials, who nursed only a one-run lead.

With the infield in, the Rams knocked a ball through the right side to tie up the game. Ritchie then elected to bring in freshman Luke Olsen to get his team out of the jam. Olsen allowed one more ball to squeak through the right side of the infield, yielding one run, but Parkmond blocked the plate successfully as he tagged the second runner out at home.

Now down 4-3, with one out in the bottom of the ninth, senior Matthew Murakami, who has come up in big situations all year long, slapped a ball to the shortstop, forcing him to make a quick play. The fielder threw the ball away, rushing the throw, allowing the speedy Murakami to be safe at first with one out.

Brown, who gave GW the lead just a few innings earlier, came up to bat. In typical Colonial small-ball fashion, Brown surprised the Rams with a bunt attempt instead of swinging for the fences, allowing Murakami to steal second base. Brown would later walk, and a base hit to shallow left field set up the bases loaded and a chance for the Colonials to tie or win the game.

Justin Albright, the team MVP, but off to a slow start this posteason, took four straight balls, working a walk to tie the game.

Rhode Island brought in a new pitcher to face the struggling Parkmond, who had struck out twice in the game already. This time he hit the ball just deep enough and hard enough to the shortstop that he could not field it cleanly enough to make a play at home. With GW’s win, the benches cleared to celebrate with Parkmond at first base.

GW now faces elimination against the top-seeded Billikens at 3:30 p.m. The probable starter for GW is freshman Max Kaplow, who was leading the team on the mound early in the season until he was scratched from a start against Fordham in late April due to an injury. He has yet to pitch in a league game since.

 

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The baseball team cheers on their teammates during a game this season. The Colonials fell 8-2 to Xavier in the first round of the A-10 tournament Wednesday. Hatchet file photo by Cameron Lancaster | Contributing Photo Editor

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Josh Solomon. 

Senior center fielder Ryan Hickey, shading to left field on a defensive shift, sprinted for a line drive in the right-center field gap. He laid out for the ball, momentarily catching it in flight, but as his body landed on the turf field, the ball popped out and rolled away. Two runs scored and Xavier’s lead grew bigger.

It was that kind of day, where even a calculated shift seemed to go in the Musketeers’ favor in GW’s 8-2 loss in the first round of the double-elimination Atlantic 10 tournament in Charlotte, N.C..

“That’s why it’s baseball, because the guy did something he maybe wouldn’t do eight out of 10 times or nine out of 10 times,” associate head coach Tom Sheridan said.

The game was not easy for fifth-seed GW, which hurt itself itself with three errors committed in the first inning, leading to three Xavier runs and squelching the momentum the Colonials had built with a red-hot final three weeks of their season.

Junior Luke Staub battled from the beginning, but started the game with a leadoff walk. Staub then struck out the next batter, but the baserunner stole second on the third strike. The next batter cracked a double to right field, driving in a run. Staub then ran the count full on the next batter before hitting him.

The wheels then came off in the inning. Usually reliable second baseman Justin Albright booted a weak ground ball off the heel of his glove as he tried to make the play to turn a double play. Another fielding and throwing later, GW was in a 3-0 hole.

The Colonials’ defensive lapses looked even worse during their turn at bat, when Xavier put on a defensive clinic.  Following a strikeout looking to start the inning, freshman Eric Kalman swung at the first pitch in the at-bat, sending Xavier right fielder Mitch Elliott racing towards foul territory. He approached the belt-high bullpen fence, leaned over and caught the slicing foul ball as his momentum took him over the fence, landing on his back but holding on.

After Hickey’s near-diving catch on the outfield shift, Staub, GW’s ace, kept his ball club in the game though through his six innings, giving up four hits and three earned runs.

“How you handle adversity on the mound really defines who you are as a pitcher. You really can’t ride the highs and lows. You got to stay with the mental approach the entire course of the game,” Staub said.

Freshman Jacob Williams came in to pitch the seventh, but quickly worked his way into trouble. Senior Brian Derner came in with two outs to stop the bleeding but gave up a two-run single to bring the total to eight runs for Xavier.

It was not until the ninth inning in which the Colonials threatened, as senior Tyler McCarthy prevented a shutout by ripping a ball up the middle, outside the reach of the diving second baseman to score two runs. Xavier secured the final out, nailing down the 8-2 loss for GW.

“Naturally we are disappointed that we didn’t do as well as we would’ve like to but I know the guys will be determined, we’ll come back tomorrow and we’ll play hard and we’ll see what happens. We’re here for a reason because we had a good season,” Sheridan said.

GW will play Thursday night against one of four potential teams: two-seeded Charlotte, third-seeded Rhode Island, sixth-seeded La Salle or seventh-seeded Richmond. The winner of that game will continue and the loser will be out of the tournament in the double-elimination format.

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Freshman Matthieu Robért slides into third base during Sunday’s game against Richmond. Cameron Lancaster | Contributing Photo Editor

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Joshua Solomon.

Freshman Matthieu Robért broke into a slow trot in  after being throw out by half a step at first, watching Richmond celebrate its come-from-behind 8-7 victory on GW’s home field.

Robért had stepped to the plate with the bases loaded, two outs, in the bottom of the ninth and with his team down one run. But his final out marked the last of the Spiders’ three-game weekend sweep of the Colonials.

GW (11-20, 5-3) had a lead in the final game of the series Sunday, but could not capitalize on opportunities at the plate and minimize mental mistakes en route to its loss. That final defeat followed an ugly 10-2 loss on Friday, one which prompted head coach Gregg Ritchie to talk to his team.

“We had a big discussion about it, about what do you stand for and [if] that game is going to define us,” Ritchie said. “And I will say this, they came out and played really hard baseball the next two days and [that] was much more like what we want to see.”

With GW down 3-0 in the fourth inning Sunday, junior Brookes Townsend continued his hot hitting. Towsend, who leads the team in batting average, recorded his fifth straight multi-hit game. His single started a series of hits for the Colonials that added five runs, culminating in senior Justin Albright’s line drive with two outs to center field to drive in the fifth run of the inning courtesy of a big headfirst slide under the tag.

But junior Aaron Weisberg could not work his way out of the sixth, ending his performance that day with five and a third innings, nine hits, five runs and four earned. He exited after allowing a Spiders RBI double that saw Richmond pull within two. Senior Kenny O’Brien came in relief, stopping the damage at two runs but also throwing away a potential double play ball in the eighth. Closer senior Craig LeJeune ran into his own trouble in the ninth, walking multiple batters to aid the Spiders in retaking the lead.

Down one in the bottom of the ninth, Townsend sliced a ball down the right field line to create a first and third one-out scenario, raising GW’s comeback hopes.

“Coach gave us the approach, got to a get good pitch out over the plate. Take away the inner half, let those go. Find something out over the plate and drive it,” Townsend said. “[I] passed the torch onto the next guy.”

A swinging bunt was hit in front of the catcher, and the runner from third broke home- but to only get caught and tagged for the second out. GW worked a bases-loaded situation but Robért grounded out to shortstop to end the game.

GW’s first game against Richmond Friday ended 10-2, in a game that Ritchie called “absolutely putrid.” The Colonials headed into the bottom of the seventh down 4-1 and squeezed out one run on a fielder’s choice by senior Matthew Murakami. But they stranded three as a bases-loaded opportunity was squandered.

Saturday, freshman Max Kaplow continued on his strong rookie season with six innings of shutout ball with three hits and five strikeouts. Unfortunately Richmond’s starter bested his six shutout innings with six and two thirds of one-run ball. The Spiders quickly jumped on the board when Kaplow exited with two runs in the top of the seventh. Freshman Eric Kalman singled in Townsend in the bottom half for the Colonials’ only run in the 3-1 loss.

Still, Ritchie was happy with his team’s performance in the second game, looking at their play as a response to the frustrating game one.

“We came back, and they did pull their bootstraps up a little and put their big boy pants on a little bit and they played better baseball,” Ritchie said.

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Caption: Senior Ryan Hickey keeps his eye on the ball as he prepares to swing during the second game of Saturday’s doubleheader against Temple. Samuel Klein | Contributing Photo Editor

This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Brennan Murray.

There were two gone in the top of the ninth when senior closer Craig LeJeune hurled his final pitch towards home plate.

With the tying run on third and the go-ahead on first, a tense GW dugout watched silently as he let it fly, hoping a hard-earned shutout effort against Temple would survive one more desperate Owls swing.

Jammed, the batter tapped a slow roller out in front of LeJeune, who collected it with ease before throwing a bullet to first. Exhales swept through the stadium as the he recorded the final out of the game – and an overall thrilling series.

The out, which preceded a triumphant yet still humble team gathering by the pitcher’s mound, capped GW’s second consecutive conference series win, an impressive feat for a team that didn’t even taste victory until the tenth game of the season.

“If you really believe you can do it, every single game you go out there, no matter what the score is, you can find a way to win the game,” head coach Gregg Ritchie said following the win. “The biggest thing is mentality.”

Though a brief blip against UMBC snapped GW’s four-game win streak Wednesday, the Colonials (10-17, 5-1 A-10) returned to Barcroft Park this weekend as they looked to continue their perfect conference record. After three closely contested bouts, GW emerged with two victories, winning 4-3 in game one and 1-0 in game three, losing by just a two-run margin in the first half of Saturday’s doubleheader.

Forming a huddle in left field following their dramatic game three finish, the Colonials engaged in their customary postgame tradition, yelling “attitude and effort” on a count to three. For Ritchie, their elation on Sunday was simply a byproduct of adhering to that motto.

According to LeJeune though, his team possessed something more than good attitude and strong effort this weekend, something that he said helps better explain how GW has been able to transform into a team that’s now tied for first place in the A-10.

“I think we just have a lot of heart now,” LeJeune said.  “We have the will to win and the heart now, too.”

If the Colonials were playing with more heart this weekend, it certainly spilled onto the diamond Friday afternoon when they erased a three-run deficit to defeat the Owls in walk-off fashion. Freshman Danny O’Donnell pitched a scoreless eighth inning in relief before senior shortstop Matthew Murakami knocked a two-out RBI double to bring GW back within one.

Caption: Freshman Nolan Lodden covers second base as he tries to pick off a Temple baserunner who was leading off in an attempt to steal third. Samuel Klein | Contributing Photo Editor

With the score at 3-2 heading into the ninth, LeJeune pitched a perfect ninth before Colonials hitters took care of the rest in the final half inning. Senior Justin Albright drew a walk to start things off before freshman Tyler Fairbanks pushed him to second with a sacrifice bunt.

Pinch-hitting senior Derek Brown then knocked a single to left, scoring Albright to knot things up at three apiece. With two outs, junior Brookes Townsend stepped to the plate and grounded an infield single. An errant throw by Temple’s third baseman allowed pinch-running sophomore Xavier Parkmond to make it to the plate from second and score the winning run.

“Winning the first game of the series is always the biggest thing you can do,” Ritchie said. “It gives these guys the sense of ‘hey, we’re gonna win the series, let’s go get it.’ And that’s what we did.”

Though it’s easy to point to some clutch hits as the reason for the win, Ritchie praised his bullpen instead. Though relief pitching was one of the weaker points for the Colonials earlier this season, the back end of GW’s bullpen has been stellar of late. LeJeune, who garnered his fourth save on Sunday, echoed Ritchie’s emphasis on the mental aspect of the game when citing reasons for his recent success.

“It’s all about the mindset. I’m just going out there and giving it my all every time,” LeJeune said. “I’m just doing it for my team.”

In game two, the Colonials’ bats fell silent in what ended as a 3-1 loss. Temple’s starting pitcher Eric Peterson struck out nine GW batters in his complete game, one-run effort. The lone run he allowed came off an RBI single from Albright in the bottom of the fifth, one of just six total hits in the contest for the home team.

Though GW put together more patient at bats in the second half of the doubleheader, striking out six fewer times than in the first half, Colonials hitters didn’t plate a runner until Townsend drove a triple to left field in the bottom of the sixth. Junior Owen Beightol scored on the play, providing GW with its one and only run in the contest.

Junior Aaron Weisberg, senior Kenny O’Brien, and LeJeune all did their respective parts to preserve the slim advantage. After Weisberg turned in 6.2 innings of scoreless work, O’Brien finished off the seventh before LeJeune closed the door in the ninth.

It was an exciting finish made even more exciting by a record 300-plus crowd.

“Whether it’s 100 or 900, if those fans are active in the game, the players can feel it. They were feeding off of it all day, which was really nice to see,” Ritchie said.

Perhaps it was the confidence gained after coming back in game one that led the Colonials to their second straight conference series win. Perhaps it was because they played with more heart. But whatever it was that helped the Colonials play solid baseball this weekend, their success has given way to a new mindset in the dugout, one that Ritchie hoped he would eventually see.

“They really believe they can win,” Ritchie said. “That’s the biggest thing in any sport, whether you are playing tic-tac-toe or hangman, or if you’re out here on the baseball field.”

The Colonials are back in action Tuesday, when they square off against regional rival, and soon-to-be A-10 foe, George Mason.

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Then-sophomore Owen Beightol slides safely into third base last season. Hatchet File Photo

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Joshua Soloman.

The Colonials are still working to figure out their identity as a ball club, and in the meantime, that means trying to figure out how to pick up victories, as well.

GW fell to 4-14 overall after losing three out of four in its series against Penn this weekend as inconsistent, error-filled ball plagued the team’s lineup.

A “small ball” offensive strategy might have been the key to their one victory and the hopeful signs they showed throughout all the games but one, but head coach Gregg Ritchie shied away from sticking that label upon his team’s approach.

“It’s called baseball. The game dictates how you play,” Ritchie said. “The game really shows you whether you’re going to play the so-called small ball or big ball or medium ball or mediocre ball or whatever. It’s baseball.”

GW split the second doubleheader of the weekend at Penn Sunday, winning the first game with a score of 6-4 but then dropping final game of the series, 6-4.

The Colonials scored their six runs in the first three frames of the first contest, as forcing three errors and five unearned runs. A couple push bunts, hit-and-runs, and aggressive base running lead to a sort of havoc that the Quakers could not handle. Junior Owen Beightol led the group with one hit, one RBI, and one run scored.

Freshman Max Kaplow did not have his best stuff on the mound, yielding six hits, four runs, and a walk in three and two-thirds work. Despite that, however, he earned his first collegiate win, something Ritchie partly attributed to the freshman’s confident attitude.

“Kaplow has that body language with every single pitch of every single inning of every single game whether he’s on the mound or whether he’s in the dugout,” Ritchie said. “The dude is an animal. He’s got the ultimate beast mode.”

The second game, and final of the series did not fare as well for the Colonials. They lost despite a rally in the eighth, narrowing the lead to 4-3.

A defensive collapse despite the best work of freshman pitcher Danny O’Donnell in the bottom half of the eighth brought home two additional runs for Penn, bringing it to 6-3.

Ritchie said that his young pitcher, who was clicking in four innings of relief work, earned about nine outs in that inning alone. GW threatened in the ninth, scoring one run. A double play then killed a first and third situation with one out to end its chances.

The Colonials dropped their first two games, 2-1 and 9-2, against Penn Saturday at home in Barcroft Park.

Junior Luke Staub dropped to 1-3 with a rocky first three innings but eventually turned his body language around and threw well, Ritchie said. Staub pitched a complete game of seven innings, two earned runs, one walk, and five strikeouts.

After going down early, the Colonials squandered a couple of opportunities to put a run across the plate. In the sixth, senior Derek Brown hit an RBI double to score freshman Andy Young from first. The seventh and final inning of the first game had GW set up with the tying run at second with one out- but back-to-back strikeouts sat down the Colonial’s chances of sending the game into extra innings.

The second game was not nearly as close due to physical and mental errors.

A leadoff walk in the third surrendered by junior Aaron Weisberg, four innings, five hits, six runs, one earned, followed by an error by the pitcher and a bases-loaded hit batsman lead to a two-run inning and the undoing of the Colonials.

In the third inning, freshman catcher Travers Nammnak was doubled up as he tried to advance to second base on the hit-and-run but did not realize the batter lined out to right field. This lead to Ritchie pulling his catcher for other freshman catcher Matthieu Robért. But Robért then made several defensive mistakes which lead to Ritchie bringing in Young to catch, who he said had not played the position since ninth grade.

“Completely unacceptable for any player to go out there with bad attitude or effort or go out there and make mental mistakes because of poor focus.You’re not going to play.  I will play every single guy, including my bullpen,” Ritchie said.

Robért then played well in the second doubleheader, but Ritchie said no player is guaranteed a slot on the field on any given day, a further sign of a team seeking to meld itself into a cohesive unit.

“There is no entitlement on this team whatsoever. There are no freshmen, there are no seniors, it’s only GW baseball players that figure out how to play the game tough, hard and correct. That’s it,” said Ritchie.

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Wednesday, March 13, 2013 9:44 a.m.

Baseball team loses five-run lead at Towson

Then-sophomore Owen Beightol slides safely into third base last season. Hatchet File Photo

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Joshua Solomon.

Coming off a weekend series against Cornell in which they won three out of four, the Colonials had finally gained some momentum. And taking the field at Towson, GW maintained its success by scoring five runs in the top of the first inning.

But by the end of first,the score was 5-1. But that only served to mark the beginning of a collapse that saw the Colonials blow a 5-0 lead. GW (3-11) went onto lose 9-5, never scoring again, as their bullpen only shu tout the Tigers (8-6) in two frames.

“It’s like with any game, you got to play every inning, every pitch, every out and when you don’t, things will tend to steamroll and you run the risk of losing the lead like a 5-nothing lead. So, simple as that,” head coach Gregg Ritchie said.

Senior Justin Albright lead off the game with a single and then stole second base. An RBI single from junior Brookes Townsend followed by a walk and an RBI base hit by senior Derek Brown put GW up 2-0 with no outs.

Shortly thereafter, a throwing error with the bases loaded led to two runners coming home. A ground out by freshman Travers Nammack scored the fifth run of the inning. Things looked promising for GW as it entered the scoreboard in a convincing way. But ultimately over the game, Ritchie said, the team couldn’t string together a consecutive series of strong performances at the plate.

“It’s just the continuation of taking one consistent at-bat back after the next. It’s a good at-bat and then it’s three bad,” Ritchie said. “It’s really a mental focus, guys staying within themselves. You go through these things.You have to learn from it, keep moving on.”

GW had one more rally in its bats. With two outs, bases loaded situation in the seventh, Ritchie used freshman Nolan Lodden to pinch hit for senior Tyler McCarthy. He said his senior had looked sluggish at the plate for a week now, and the head coach and felt Lodden was the right choice as a switch hitter in the pending lefty-righty scenario.

But Lodden took the first two pitches for ball one and two, and ended up striking out looking.

“You got to be ready to hit once the green light is on. And he took two fastballs over the plate. That’s something we cannot do as a hitting group. It is unacceptable.” Ritchie said.

On the mound, junior Craig Lejeune started the game, throwing two and a third innings yielding two earned runs with five hits and a walk. After 2.1 innings of play he exited the field, and the bullpen struggled to maintain the lead he’d helped to build.

Though Towson was held scoreless for the second inning, it scored at least one run over the next five, including a three-run sixth inning, that gave it a decisive lead.

“They didn’t pitch. They walked guys. Look at the line score. Had some errors behind some guys which extended their innings. We had a couple pitchers that quite honestly got five or six outs in the inning before we actually got out of the inning,” Ritchie said.

The coach would not attribute any potential fatigue from the team’s weekend series with Cornell to why the pitching staff was not up to par.

“Tired? That’s not a word in my vocabulary. It doesn’t exist. It never exists,” Ritchie said.

And he expects his team to be ready for their upcoming series against UPenn this weekend.

“You have to go up there and play basic, fundamentally sound, consistently mentally focused baseball. That’s it,” Ritchie said. “And when you do that you put yourself in the position to battle, to scratch, to claw, to win.”

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Thursday, Feb. 28, 2013 9:53 a.m.

Baseball team shut out at No. 19 Virginia

Then-sophomore Owen Beightol slides safely into third base last season. Hatchet File Photo

The Colonials faced No. 19 Virginia Wednesday afternoon, falling 11-0 after holding the Cavaliers scoreless over the first three innings.

Freshman Max Kaplow took the mound first for GW (0-6), allowing just one hit through the first three innings of play. But the Colonial offense couldn’t back him up, stranding runners on first and third in the second.

Kaplow left the game after Virginia tallied four runs on four hits in the fourth inning, and juniors Aaron Weisberg and Craig Lejeune combined in the relief effort. The Cavaliers scored seven runs over the final three innings to clinch their victory.

GW will unveil the renovated Barcroft Park Saturday morning, ahead of its game against Quinnipiac.

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Then-senior Eric Lara sends a pitch to home plate last season at Barcroft Park. Hatchet File Photo

This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Brennan Murray.

The grand opening for the newly renovated Barcroft Park is slotted for this Saturday, March 2nd,  the athletic department announced Monday.

The Colonials’ three-game series against Quinnipiac marks GW’s first competition in the upgraded stadium, which boasts upgraded dugouts, expanded fan seating areas, as well as a new press box and concession stand.

Last year, the Colonials played at Barcroft despite on-going reconstruction of the outfield walls and parking lot.

GW’s baseball program has secured rights to the field for the next 20 years as part of a public-private partnership with Arlington County. As part of the agreement, both parties will be granted equal permission to use the park, though GW games will maintain precedence.

First-year head coach Gregg Ritchie, who starred as a Colonial in the eighties, said he was excited to be playing in one of region’s top collegiate facilities.

“Having played baseball at this university, I can speak firsthand about the incredible strides that have been made from where GW baseball used to call home to this immaculate facility that ranks among the best in the region and in our conference,” Ritchie said in a release. “For all of the ballplayers that have come through GW over the years, Barcroft Park should serve as a nod of thanks for paving the way.”

Following a ribbon cutting ceremony, reception, and a ceremonial first pitch tossed by University President Steven Knapp, the Colonials will commence their second of three weekend matches against the Bobcats.

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Then-sophomore Owen Beightol slides safely into third base last season. Hatchet File Photo

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Joshua Solomon.

The Colonials could blame their 0-5 start on their stagnant offense or surrendering unearned runs, but they continue to point toward mental toughness.

GW visited USC Upstate for a three game series this weekend at the Spartans’ Harley Field. It dropped both games in the doubleheader Saturday, despite a strong effort by the bullpen to keep GW in the game and then fell in a lopsided affair, 9-3 Sunday.

“It’s not failure,” first-year head coach and former GW baseball standout Gregg Ritchie said. “It’s about learning to play the game clean.”

Ritchie said he wants his players to be more passionate their play. He did say a strength so far was very strong pitching. But the offense, he added, is not aggressive enough, taking too many pitches at the plate and not focusing on the planned approach.

The first of two games on Saturday’s wet doubleheader left GW looking back on two innings gone wrong. The Colonials could not come through in the top of the third with runners on first and second with one out. And the bottom of the fourth unravelled with an error by junior right fielder Owen Beightol, the ball just tipping off the heel of his glove and leading to two unearned runs and a 2-0 lead for USC UPstate.

A 1-2-3 top of the fifth sent junior Aaron Weisberg, making his first start of the season, back to the mount quickly. He retired the first two batters but a walk opened the gate for three base hits for three runs. GW could not rally back against the Spartans, losing by a final score of 5-0.

“It was more about the mentality and approach,” Ritchie said about his team’s goals for its series, rather than specifically focusing on hitting or pitching.

Although a more promising and error free game, the second half of Saturday’s doubleheader ended in a 3-1 loss. Junior Luke Staub pitched into the fifth inning, surrendering three earned runs with six walks in the seven-inning affair, shortened for the doubleheader.

The Colonials capitalized on an error in the top half of the second to score their lone run off a single from junior Brookes Townsend. But Upstate came right back in the bottom half with a double to the centerfield wall to tie up the game. In the fourth, a leadoff walk resulted in a two-run inning which capped the scoring for the game.

With a runner on first and the tying run at the plate, sophomore Xavier Parkmond threatened with a rip over the fence that flew just foul but then struck out on the next pitch. GW could not put together two runs and had to walk away with another loss.

“They just have to pull the bootstraps up,” Ritchie said about the losses. He’s looking for a revamped focus from players that “haven’t had a winning mentality for some time, and it has been some time.”

Sunday’s game the Colonials fell the hardest out of the three in a 9-3 loss.

In that contest, it was troubles at the mound that hit GW the hardest, with its relief pitching allowing runs in three straight innings. Freshmen Danny O’Donnell got the start and gave up four earned runs across in three straight innings. Though the team jumped out to a 3-0 lead, it was shortlived, and the Colonials couldn’t muster any offensive gas for the rest of the game.

But the slow start to the season isn’t an excuse for his team to give up, Ritchie said. He’s determined to push his players to rise to the occasion.

“Are you going to meet the challenge and do it? You got to meet it. We plan on meeting [it],” Ritchie said.

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