This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Josh Solomon.
Through six innings of play Sunday, it seemed as though the Colonials were on their way to being swept in their Atlantic 10 opening series, at home against Saint Joseph’s.
After falling in the first two games of the series – 13-1 and 3-1, respectively – the Colonials gave up three early runs in the first three innings. It looked to be an early end for a GW team not hitting.
“It was the fourth inning and I walked over to [junior Ryan Xepoleas] and he was kind of like [with his head down],” head coach Gregg Ritchie said. “I said, ‘Hey let’s go, you’re going to get the big hit.’”
A run in the sixth inning and a big hit from Xepoleas in the seventh and GW would go onto win the game 4-3, avoiding the sweep.
Senior Colin Milon delivers a pitch to a Saint Joseph’s batter in GW’s 4-3 win Sunday over the Hawks. Cameron Lancaster | Assistant Photo Editor
The Colonials leadoff hitter came to the plate with two outs and runners on first and second in a tied game. He quickly fell behind in the count on two-straight off-speed pitches for strikes. The Hawks reliever lost the zone, though, throwing three-straight balls outside. On the next pitch, the crowd froze for a moment as Xepoleas pulled an inside pitch just foul for a would-be home run.
The reliever this time went back outside with a fastball and this time Xepoleas lined it the other way, through the left side of the infield to drive in the go-ahead run.
“I faced him [the Hawk's reliever] yesterday and he threw a couple pitches inside and I was ready for him, so I knew he was going to stay out,” Xepoleas said. “It’s just a mentality thing of being ready for anything and just grinding it out.”
The big seventh inning, which could have been bigger Ritchie said if not for a couple base-running mistakes, helped GW pull off the win.
“The first game was a major debacle and we played really good baseball yesterday, but pieces just didn’t fall together,” Ritchie said. “Just trying to center their focus on execution late in the game.”
After a couple quick of innings thereafter, senior Colin Milon – now part the by-committee closer with senior Craig LeJeune out for the season with Tommy John surgery – in his second inning of work gave up a leadoff double in the ninth. A pop up and a sacrifice fly advanced the Saint Joe’s tying run to third with two outs, but Milon got his next batter to line out to right and the Colonials picked up their first A-10 win of the season.
Sophomore starting pitcher Bobby LeWarne kept the offensively-struggling Colonials in the game. He said he knew he had to go out and throw strikes to give his team a chance of picking up a win. But in the first he gave up one run, in the third another two and by the fourth, he already had 65 pitches.
“On our team, we’re always a threat to score,” said LeWarne, who added he wasn’t worried when they fell behind for the third-straight game. “Pitchers behind me threw even better than me – Jordy [Sheinkop] with the win and Colin with his two innings.”
LeWarne and the pitching staff settled in for the next six innings, allowing only two hits, as the offense came to life for the come-from-behind victory.
Series Recap (1-2):
After a strong start to his season, sophomore Jacob Williams earned himself the opening day slot for conference play. In his two previous starts, the Delaware native allowed no runs in 17 innings – yielding just eight hits.
Against the Hawks, though, Williams exited with a much different line: five innings pitched, eight runs (six earned) on seven hits with over 100 pitches – tagged for the 13-1 conference-opening loss.
GW’s lone run came in the fourth off a hit-by-pitch, steal, error and fielder’s choice to bring in Xepoleas. Not exactly the sequence of a flourishing offense.
Game two faired a bit differently, with the Colonials up 1-0 until the top of the sixth, when senior Aaron Weisberg gave up his first run. Entering the inning he had allowed just two hits, but three singles to leadoff the frame tied the game.
Weisberg wiggled out of further damage, but came back out in the seventh to walk the lead-off hitter on five pitches. Senior Luke Staub came in for relief, but quickly gave up what would be the go-ahead RBI double.
GW would go onto lose 3-1, again with its only support coming by way off small ball – a balk in the first inning, following two fielders choice plays, that brought in Xepoleas.
The Colonials will go onto play Tuesday against UMBC, although weather could hinder the game. GW will then go on the road to face preseason-conference favorite Saint Louis for a three-game series.
“They [Saint Louis] could be favorites, everybody could be favorites, but it’s just about one game,” Ritchie said. “You play to the best of your ability and see if you can sneak out some wins and build the momentum.”