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Sunday, June 12, 2016 6:09 p.m.

Pittsburgh Pirates select Mahala in 18th round

Rising senior Kevin Mahala was selected by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 18th round of Saturday’s MLB First-Year Player Draft.

As the everyday shortstop for the Colonials, Mahala batted .286 with four home runs and a team-high 47 RBIs. His 20 doubles on the season also led the team, rank second in the Atlantic 10 conference and sit at third most in program history.

As the 555th overall selection in the draft, Mahala becomes the highest GW athlete chosen since Eric Cantrell went in the seventh round to the Kansas City Royals in 2010.

Mahala also joins former teammate Shane Kemp as the only Colonials since the program’s inception to be selected by Pittsburgh. Kemp was a 26th round pick of the 2015 draft and made 10 combined appearances on the mound between two minor league affiliates for the Pirates last season.

The Basking Ridge, NJ native is still expected to return to the Colonials for his senior season after competing with the Wilmar Stingers of the Northwoods League over this summer.

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This post was written by Hatchet senior staff writer Josh Solomon.

BRONX, N.Y. – As the sun continued to set behind the gothic Keating Hall bell tower, shadows creeped across Fordham’s baseball field, left to right.

The batter was quickly covered in shadows at the Atlantic 10 Championship. Soon the same for the pitcher’s mound. It was starting to get dark in the GW dugout too.

The bell began to chime. It was 7 o’clock and it was the sixth inning of a rematch with No. 2 VCU.

Despite plenty of drama Thursday afternoon,  the season was seemingly over. The Colonials were up to their fourth pitcher of the day, with two others warming up in the pen, down seven runs.

An elimination game had gone ghost on a group ballplayers who busted out for six runs the night prior.

Despite eventually dropping the contest 12–4, it was then, in the sixth, when GW rallied.

The team displayed resilience, even showed off its season motto – grit and gratitude.

It was what head coach Gregg Ritchie would have liked to see – but it was not what the team’s manager saw, at least not in person.

A leadoff home run by junior Bobby Campbell, a double down the left field line to the warning track, a base hit up the middle to score another run. The quick rally was followed by three outs and no more runs. GW would not score again all game.

Ritchie would not see what happened from his usual helm at the team’s dugout steps, a place in which the team would look toward as their pirate ship, in a season embracing the rolling rhythms of the drama-filled Pirates of the Caribbean movies. At home, GW would play the movie’s noteworthy soundtrack when the team scored a run.

Ritchie was thrown out of the game, way out, down the left field line. The third base umpire gave Ritchie the first ejection of his career as a head coach at GW.

In his fourth season, he had apparently come close at least once before this year. This game though was against a VCU team that GW had lost to one day ago in a first round matchup and had lost two-out-of-three to at home during the season.

GW was already trailing 6–2 in the third inning. A starting pitching decision did not pan out well for Ritchie, electing to start sophomore Robbie Metz over his two other usual starters, neither of whom had been pitching well of late, while Metz had barely started all season-long.

Metz gave up two runs in a challenging top of the first inning. The pitches were up and VCU was hitting.

“Robbie hadn’t gotten to pitch a lot. It’s tough,” catcher, senior Matthieu Robért said. “Guys step up and do what they can and that’s all they can do.”

Robért had catching duties in the final two games of the tournament, in lieu of the season’s usual starter, sophomore Brandon Chapman. Ritchie quickly noted after the Saint Louis win that he highly valued his senior’s leadership on the field as a key to the team’s success.

Ritchie would then called on one of the other potential starters, sophomore Brady Renner. He gave up a four-spot in the second, including a three-run home run to almost an identical spot in the left center bleachers as Mahala did to put away Saint Louis last night. Both swings had given their respective teams their sixth run.

With one out in the third, sophomore Mark Osis, who had a breakout season, singled his way on. Then A-10 All Conference First Team first baseman, junior Bobby Campbell came to bat. He looked down at third base coach, Dave Lorber for the signs. No bunt, no hit-and-run, the call on the first pitch allowed Campbell to swing.

Campbell swung and hit the ball off his foot in the batter’s box, a typical foul ball call. The home plate umpire did not call it. Campbell, assuming that was the call, stayed put in the batter’s box. The VCU third baseman who fielded the ball threw to first for the out.

Campbell put up his arms in question. The GW faithful in the stands loudly questioned. Ritchie questioned. He asked for a meeting of the umpires. The umpires met. The umpires decided the play call on the field stood and Campbell was out.

The next batter was at the box and the VCU pitcher was ready to toe the rubber. Then Ritchie left the dugout. He went to the third base umpire, who likely had the best view of the ball off of Campbell’s foot. About a minute into the conversation, the umpire gave him the hook.

After following the umpire all the way into left field, Ritchie eventually would be brought back to the dugout by Lorber. GW’s head coach was greeted by a dugout on the top step, applauding him as he entered and then exited the ballpark.

At that moment, the team was as loud as they had been all year.

“The guys got fired up,” catcher, senior Matthieu Robért said. “Coach has done a lot for me and the team over the past four years, and that’s just one example of him having our back. I think anything else needs to be said. He has our back and he showed it.”

“I’m really thankful that I have a coach that will do that,” Campbell said. “He’ll fight for us.”

The fight was there but the hitting shoes weren’t always aboard GW’s ship this season. The team would not score a run that inning and bring in just two more in the game in a mini-rally in the sixth inning. VCU would continue to tag on runs.

The 2016 campaign was marked by injuries to pitchers in the preseason and core hitters in the middle of conference play. It was one in which the Colonials had a chance to take a hold of first place and could have missed the playoffs altogether; sometimes the timing was right.

The 2016 campaign had its highs and it had its lows, which amounted to a .500 season – 13-13 in A-10 play.

And the 2016 campaign for GW baseball was supposed to be one to win a conference championship.

A team with two senior starters and a lineup filled with returning juniors and sophomores seemed like a strong combination to win it all. A season will go as a season goes sometimes, and this season went with starting pitching and a streaky lineup, neither of which showed up Thursday night in the Bronx.

As the sun all but vanished, the field flood lights took over, GW poised themselves for an eighth inning rally with a runner on second. The grit and gratitude on display, what Ritchie said the day prior after the team’s win rings loudly.

“A win’s a win. A loss is a loss. You expect to win every single time,” he said. “You want to sweep all the time. You expect to win the ring and the championship. Yeah, you want to go to the World Series. And I feel good all the time.”

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This post was written by Hatchet senior staff writer Josh Solomon.

BRONX, NY – In the thirty minutes between games staff members working the A-10 Championship at Fordham headed to the press box to grab some of the remaining now-cold hamburgers.

Overlooking the field, on a day of 90-degree summer heat and upsets between the base paths, one staff member turned to another between bites of his burger. “I would imagine Saint Louis would win, but with the way the day’s gone, I’m going to go with GW.”

The burger-eating-staffer was right to assume Saint Louis should win. The Billikens were the higher seeded team. The Billikens also just swept the Colonials a few days ago, outscoring them 28-10 in the series.

And GW had lost to VCU 5-1 this afternoon, showing few signs of lively bats. Down to the elimination side of the bracket, he Colonials were set to play the loser of the late afternoon game.

GW would draw the Billikens, after the team blew a 5–2 lead to Fordham in the eighth inning. Meanwhile GW had been back to its hotel room and changed uniforms to its steely grey pants (which some opposing teams have referred to as pajama pants).

The pajama pants proved to be potent for a Colonials bunch that lacked punch just hours earlier.

First, it took the form of lucky jab that landed for an early 1-0 lead. Then came a fortunate follow up of a two-out rally for two more runs. What followed was a knockout punch in the form of a three run home to the football bleachers in deep left center field by junior Kevin Mahala to give the Colonials a six run lead and eventually the game.

A bunch of runs, coupled with a clutch start by senior Jacob Williams, who twirled 5.2 innings, giving up one run on five hits and striking out six, helped to keep the season alive in a 6-1 win for GW.

“I’ve said this all the time, our guys are pretty resilient in bouncing back,” head coach Gregg Ritchie said.

Before the playoff started, following the sweep to Saint Louis, Ritchie said that the number one key to his team’s success in the tournament was pitching, primarily starting pitching. Earlier in the day, fellow senior Bobby LeWarne couldn’t keep it together in the fifth inning.

Wednesday night, Williams worked well through five innings, and only a hiccup in the sixth on a balk and a couple seeing-eye singles succumbed him to the end of his start. The Billikens were held without a hit until two outs in the fourth.

“I had a lot of adrenaline out there, knowing it could be the last opportunity to pitch in my career,” Williams said. “Also just trying to give everybody on the team, especially the other seniors a chance to just keep playing. None of us want the season to end, especially our careers.”

GW fed off the momentum from its starter.

Though the Colonials couldn’t capitalize on a one-out double by sophomore Robbie Metz in the first inning, they were able to come back in the second inning and score one.

Here’s where the luck came in: with runners on first and second and one out, the night’ designated hitter (with senior Matthieu Robért behind the dish), sophomore Brandon Chapman grounded into what should have been a routine double play to end the inning. The throw to first was low and skirted under the first baseman’s glove to allow one run to score.

In the fourth, Robért was hit by a pitch with two outs. Chapman, down in the count to his final strike, drove one over the center fielder’s head for a double to score his fellow catching mate. Junior Joey Bartosic followed up with an RBI single of his own.

And then the big inning came in what amounted to be a nine pitch at bat to Mahala. Foul ball after foul ball, finally Mahala straightened out one and to one of the deepest parts of the ballpark.

“I just kept telling myself you’re due, you’re due, because I’ve been struggling a little bit lately,” Mahala said.

He smoked a no-doubter, three-run home run into the bleachers in left center. That gave GW a six run lead and would be all for the day, plenty for a win against Saint Louis.

“We called ourselves the eliminators last year, and we’re trying to buy into that again this year,” Mahala said. “They had our number last weekend but we pride ourselves in our ability to dust ourselves off and that’s exactly what we did.”

GW will play Thursday at 5 p.m in a rematch with No. 2 VCU who lost to Davidson Thursday. Potential starters could be junior Shane Sweeney, or sophomores Brady Renner of Robbie Metz. 

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This post was written by Hatchet senior staff writer Josh Solomon.

BRONX, NY – Last time senior Bobby LeWarne pitched against VCU, he threw a complete game, tossing 131 pitches and allowing only three runs.

That was nearly a month ago, when the Colonials still had a chance to take first place. GW lost that outing 3–0, in a shutout at the hands of the to-be Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Year, Michael Dailey.

From that series against VCU on, GW carried a 4-8 record on its way to the bottom seed in the A-10 Championship.

As the seven seed versus the second seeded Rams, the Colonials needed to win the opening matchup to give themselves a quality chance to win the tournament. With a loss, GW would enter the consolation side of the bracket, making it extremely difficult to go the distance and still have enough pitching to compete.

In the opening round of the postseason, LeWarne earned a rematch with Dailey.

“We were saying if we were VCU, we would be scared to play us,” sophomore Mark Osis said. “That was a bad draw for them and we had a lot of confidence coming into today, knowing we could hang with them. Things just didn’t go our way.”

It turned out to be Dailey’s day.

He kept the Colonials bats quiet for seven straight innings, allowing just one run in the sixth. GW managed a few opportunities at the plate, but ultimately were shut down offensively, losing 5–1.

GW’s game plan against Dailey fell through.

“We didn’t follow it,” head coach Gregg Ritchie said. “[Our plan was to] stay on the ball. Get good pitches. Stay on the ball. No pull.”

GW rolled over and ground out most of the game, weakly hitting the ball against the Rams ace.

The Colonials were also hurt by a rough fifth inning that LeWarne couldn’t finesse his way out of in his usual fashion.

He gave up a leadoff double and then walked the three-hole hitter on a full count. A wild pitch on a strikeout then moved the runners into scoring position.

With men on second and third, LeWarne tried to intentionally load the bases to create a force out opportunity. On his first pitch on the intentional walk LeWarne was called for a balk by the umpire standing near second base. The run scored and the game started to collapse on the Colonials

“I just left a few pitches up. That balk was embarrassing and I just got to execute those pitches more to get out of that inning,” LeWarne said.

LeWarne threw his second wild pitch of the inning allowing another runner to score.

Then the bullpen entered, starting with freshman Justin Friedman. What followed was a passed ball, an infield single, a base hit and a wild pitch.

Ritchie then handed the ball off to senior Luke Olson who got a ground ball to end the inning, but it was too late. The first three runs had crossed the plate for VCU in the fifth.

Ritchie could have gone to the bullpen earlier, but, as he has done all season, he stuck with his starter.

“Bobby LeWarne is our senior, he’s our guy, who gives us the best effort out of what we got, situationally here,” Ritchie said. “I have no regrets on that whatsoever.”

The game continued to slip away from GW, although the team still had its chances at the plate.

In the sixth inning, the Colonials led off the inning with a walk but then the previously red-hot, junior Joey Bartosic grounded into a double play.

Later in the inning, GW scraped across one run on a two-out double by sophomore Mark Osis, but could not connect for another base hit to drive in anything more.

“I was hoping it would turn the tides a little bit,” Osis said. “I was excited to get my team excited because I could see them on the bench, getting pumped up. But unfortunately we couldn’t string a few more together.”

In the eighth inning after the Rams had gone to their bullpen, GW had its best opportunity all game. The Colonials landed their first two batters on base, but an infield fly by sophomore Robbie Metz and a double play ball by Osis ended the threat.

Finally in the ninth, with two GW runners on base, VCU’s closer finished the game off.

GW will now go onto play tonight at 8:30, taking on the loser of the four-five seed matchup between Saint Louis and Fordham.

The Colonials had lost two-of-three to VCU, but played three close games, while they were swept by both the Billikens and the Fordham Rams this season.

“We all know we have a quick turnaround coming tonight, with our backs against the wall,” Osis said. “So there’s no real time to hang your head. We have to pick ourselves back up and get a ‘W’ tonight.”

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This post was written by Hatchet senior staff writer Josh Solomon.

As Ritchie said after the Saint Louis sweep, if GW cannot pitch well – particularly the starting end to keep the team in the game – then the Colonials will probably lose.

But, before tournament play begins, it can be useful to look at what else will and will not potentially go in the favor of the Colonials

The following is a brief breakdown of some key team and player statistics that if go right, GW could win each individual game, and give themselves a legitimate chance to make a run to the title game and win it all.

Conference and Team Stats

In A-10 play GW has been average, by the numbers. The team is sixth out of 13 in the conference in batting average and the Colonials are 11th in team ERA, during conference play.


There are a few categories worth highlighting though.

GW struck out the second-least in the league during conference play, next to VCU. That comes out to about a clip of five strikeouts per game by the Colonials batters.

Individually, senior Luke Olson boasted the second-best ERA by any individual during conference play, at 0.98.

Junior Joey Bartosic led or was close to the top for several categories offensively for the conference. He had the top batting average in A-10 play: .426. He also collected the most hits: 43.

Bartosic and his teammate, junior Bobby Campbell (who collected the seventh most RBI in A-10 play, at 19) both were awarded All-Conference First Team honors this weekend.

GW averaged about 4.6 runs per game in A-10 play. The team collected about nine hits a game and struck about five times, while walking twice a game. The Colonials would on average leave nearly seven runners on base per game and commit one fielding error a game.

Advanced Stats

Here are a few quick hits on the team’s success when the Colonials and specific Colonials perform up to a certain standard. All calculations use the full regular season’s numbers.

Unlike most statistics for the Colonials in attempting to predict success, hits is one of the few that is significant in telling any type of story. Although it would be logical for a stat like runners left on base or fielding errors committed, or even amount of times striking out in the game, those statistics prove to not have an exceptional, predictable outcome on the result of the game.

Rather, and somewhat understandably, the more hits GW gets the more likely the team is to win. What’s the breaking point? When the Colonials rack up nearly 11 hits in a game, they will likely win by one run. This is not to say that they cannot win without 11 hits, but if they do hit that magic number, it is almost definite that they will come out on top. Of note: GW’s first-round opponent, VCU gave up about nine hits a game this season.

How important is the A-10’s top hitter to GW’s success? When Joey Bartosic scores a run in a game, the Colonials win. If Bartosic scores two runs in the game, GW will likely win by three runs. Without a run by the talented leadoff hitter, the Colonials will likely lose by about two runs. In other words, Bartosic is the team’s essential table-setter.

A couple of Colonials have carried the GW offense from runs batted in perspective:

GW is likely to lose if junior Kevin Mahala does not drive in a run. When he does knock one in though, the Colonials typically will win by a little less than a run, on average. This means that Mahala’s success with runners in scoring position is vital to the team’s ability to win games this year. This makes sense too because for the most part, Mahala has batted near the heart of the lineup, in prime positioning to influence the outcome.

The Colonials are also likely to lose to if junior Bobby Campbell does not drive in a run. Note though this is independent of whether Mahala drives in a run too. What this does take into account is that both hitters are a huge part to the GW offense.

Campbell in fact is even more valuable: if he drives in one run, GW will likely win by one run and when he drives in two runs, the team will likely win by three runs. Campbell’s effects are similar to Bartosic’s, which is a good indicator to why these two players are both on the All-Conference First Team.

From the pitching end it’s a little harder to predict potential success since GW’s rotation has been anything less than predictable. The Colonials have had one steady starter, senior Bobby LeWarne. “The Bull” has not been the same since his last start against VCU, in which he threw 9.0 innings, giving up five hits and three runs in the loss. The tough senior threw a 131 pitches in that game. Since then he has thrown a combined 12.2 innings pitched in three starts, giving up 15 runs, all earned.

In those three conference matchups, LeWarne has not been able to battle through early inning trouble like he is most known for being able to artfully do. If he does get the start Wednesday against VCU, it will be a matchup worth throwing the numbers out and just watching to see what the senior can do when he toes the rubber.

Read our full A-10 Championship preview here.

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This post was written by Hatchet senior staff writer Josh Solomon.

Sitting in the head coach’s office in the fall, there was a fresh feeling.

There were few fresh faces, some assistant coaching staff changes were made, but the whiteboard adjacent to Gregg Ritchie’s desk was decorated by the names of returning players.

Players who helped make up one of the youngest teams in the country the year prior, and the youngest team in the country two years ago, when a group of a half dozen or so freshmen set out to help rebuild the baseball program.

The freshness did not come from three-year-old Atlantic 10 Coach of the Year award that sat between the desk and the whiteboard. No, the past was the past at that point. The freshness came from familiar faces who would fill lineup cards for the months to follow, ready to finally win an A-10 Championship and make it to the College World Series.

Now in late May, the past is a conference season that finished 12-12 and a regular season that ended 23-31.

The past is a team that struggled with injuries – some early injuries to young arms who never got to pitch in 2016, and some mid-season injuries that lingered and still lurk, creating a dent to the strength of the lineup took, when junior Kevin Mahala and sophomore Mark Osis battled through injuries.

The past is a team that struggled with a tough non-conference – one meant to harden the team’s ability to fight through baseball’s adversities, particularly late in the season like the postseason.

The past is a team that could have won a series from VCU. At that point in the season, a series win would have meant at least a share of first place in the A-10. Instead a 13-inning affair, in which Ritchie used his closer, junior Eddie Muhl, for the final 6.1 innings on 94 pitches, came up short and the team fell back into the middle of the pack.

“The guys still have one thing in mind,” Ritchie said, after this past weekend’s sweep at the hands of Saint Louis. “They want to win an A-10. And we’re going to go out there and do everything we can to do that.”

GW enters postseason play as the seven seed, out of seven seeds.

This means the Colonials finished seventh out of 13, which is good, but not great when it comes to tournament seeding. It rarely happens where a seed lower than a five wins the tournament. Last year, fifth-seeded VCU won it all and eventually went on to the NCAA Super Regionals.

What doesn’t matter though when it comes to seeding is even as the seven seed, if the Colonials wins, and keeps winning, they can win it all. The odds are only stacked against them if they lose in one of their first two games, in this double elimination format.

GW will kick off the A-10 tournament, hosted by Fordham, at 1:30 p.m Wednesday. Against No. 2 seed VCU (15-7)

If the Colonials win Wednesday afternoon, they would play Thursday morning at 10 a.m. against the winner of No. 3 seed Saint Joseph’s (15-9) and No. 6 seed Davidson (11-11).

If GW loses to VCU though, the team will face an elimination game Wednesday night against the lowest-seeded loser between the three teams: Davidson, No. 4 Saint Louis (15-9) or No. 5 Fordham (14-10) at 8:30 p.m.

“I think they feel a confidence level that they know they played [VCU] and they know they played with them, they’ve beaten them, and they played the fourteen inning game they lost, so I think there is no, ‘Hey, it’s an unknown,’ or ‘Are we good enough?’ No, we are good enough,” Rithcie said. “We play our game, we play good, but to do that, you got to have pitching. That’s going to be the key to the whole thing.”

Pitching will be the big point of concern for the Colonials, who will be looking for a quality start from whomever gets the ball for the day.

Likely candidates include, seniors Bobby LeWarne, who threw a complete game and gave up three runs in a loss to VCU when GW played the Rams at home earlier this year, or Jacob Williams, who threw 6.1 innings, giving up five hits and one run in relief in the middle game of the VCU series.

LeWarne might be the more likely starter since he has been the unofficial ace of the staff all season long, despite not pitching well in his last three starts.

Although that would seem logical, with Ritchie, anything can go, particularly this season and especially in the playoffs with a team that has one goal, which is still very fresh in its mind – an A-10 Championship.

“You got to do what you got to do to win the game at hand,” Ritchie said “You cannot think so far ahead in a playoff situation like this, where you think, ‘Oh, I have to worry about game number two.’ No, game number two means nothing.”

View the full A-10 Championship bracket here.

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This post was written by Hatchet reporter Pete Hoegler. 

Last weekend, baseball was on its biggest high of the season: on Friday night, junior Bobby Campbell sealed the six-run comeback with a walk-off home run; on Saturday, head coach Gregg Ritchie picked up his 100th career win; and on Senior Day, Luke Olsen closed the door in a four inning effort to seal the sweep and an Atlantic-10 Tournament berth.

Going into the weekend, the Colonials and the Billikens were tied for fourth place in the Atlantic 10, so Ritchie’s ball club knew this matchup was going to be crucial for their seeding placement, but again, GW met its match.

In one of the most disappointing series’ of the season, GW was outscored by Saint Louis 28–10 and killed any sort of momentum heading into playoffs.

So what happened?

Truth be told, GW, with its with streaky hitting and inconsistent pitching, has been doing this all season.

The 2015-2016 A-10 campaign began with five straight wins followed by a 3-3 stretch against rivals Dayton and VCU. Then, after getting swept by Fordham, GW came back with a sweep of their own against Richmond at The Tuck.

Here late in the season, GW’s inconsistencies have finally come back to bite them. Capturing a league title, now as the No. 7 seed in the A-10 Championship this week, just got tougher.

Saint Louis, as one of the most potent offenses in the league, is especially tough to beat at home and they clearly showed that this series.

On Sunday, they only allowed GW’s starter, sophomore Brady Renner, to record one out before getting pulled after allowing four runs on two hits. Junior reliever Shane Sweeney could not keep Saint Louis’ offense at bay either, giving up four runs in 2.2 innings. Before GW’s offense could even blink, they were already down 8–0.

Again in Game 1 on Friday, though the Colonials got on the board early, GW’s pitching could not quell Saint Louis at the plate. The Billikens plated three runs on four hits in the bottom of the fourth to take a 3–1 lead then added a pair of runs in the fifth before breaking the game open with a six-run eighth inning to build an 11–1 lead.

On Saturday, the same script was followed as GW dug themselves in yet another incredible hole as senior Jacob Williams got knocked around a bit in the second inning, allowing five runs. Though GW plugged away at the lead, the Billikens’ offense was relentless and added two more runs in the seventh which put the game out of reach for the visiting Colonials.

One of the bright spots in this otherwise dismal series was junior Joey Bartosic, who went 9-13 against Saint Louis–registering back-to-back four hit games and blasting his first home-run of his career for his team-leading 26th multiple-hit game of the season.

Behind only sophomore Mark Osis in batting average with a .353 mark, Bartosic has been the ideal leadoff hitter for the Colonials. With an on-base percentage of .381, he seems to always be part of GW’s comebacks or blowouts, and the Colonials are going to need him to keep up his hot-streak in the Bronx.

After getting swept, GW (12-12 A-10) is locked as the No. 7 seed in the A-10 Championship, and since the Colonials last won a title in 2002, no team lower than a five-seed has won the championship.

GW takes on No. 2 VCU Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. in the opening round of postseason play.

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This post was written by Hatchet senior staff writer Josh Solomon.

Senior submariner Luke Olson was asked after Sunday’s game if the team feels different than a week ago.

He gave a simple reply.

“Yeah, definitely.”

Last week GW was swept by Fordham and had just dropped five of its last six. The Colonials were treading water for a playoff berth. The team then went ahead swept Richmond at home. Olson closed out the final four innings of GW’s 8-4 Sunday, Senior Day win; all three wins were come from behind victories, including Friday’s 10th inning walk off.

“Hopefully we can get a little win streak going, keep it going and get in the playoffs with a good seed and keep going,” Olson added.

With the way Sunday’s games ended, GW (12-9) now is a lock to make the Atlantic 10 Championship. The team earn as high as the three-seed and as low as the last team in, the seventh seed.

Since the Colonials last won the A-10 tournament in 2002, no team lower than a five-seed has won the championship (which has happened three times in that span: Saint Louis, in 2006 and 2010, and VCU in 2015).

Despite the two-week long struggle for the Colonials, the team seems back on track with a slump-breaking weekend versus the Spiders.

Sunday, GW trailed 4–2 entering the seventh inning. After scoring one in that frame, the Colonials then scored five runs, capitalized by a junior Joey Bartosic two-out, two-RBI single to give GW the lead.

“Baseball is such a weird sport,” Bartosic said, after the win. “We felt like we were doing the same thing, the same approaches, but I don’t know. It is a little weird. I don’t know how we’re doing it.”

He noted though the significance of junior Bobby Campbell’s walk-off home run in the 10th inning Friday night under the lights at The Tuck.

“Props to Bobby. He’s always been huge for us all year and came through again,” Bartosic said. “That really gave us so much momentum for the next two games. I guess we now only start playing in the seventh and eighth, but that’s fine.”

The fact is GW scored 14 of its 22 runs this weekend in the seventh inning or later.

In the previous six games, against Fordham and VCU, GW scored a total of 20 runs and won a total of one game.

“I told our offense five, six days ago, ‘We got another streak in us. We’ve had really good streaks. We had two down periods. Other than that, we’ve hit the ball really well,” head coach Gregg Ritchie said. “Don’t make too much of the down period we had, that’s just sometimes what happens in hitting. Keep putting the ball in play the right way.'”

Saint Louis Preview

What: Baseball (12–9 A-10) vs. Saint Louis (12-9 A-10), Conference Series

Where: Billiken Sports Center, Saint Louis, Mo.

When: Thursday, May 19 at 6 p.m. CST; Friday, at 2 p.m. CST; Saturday, at 12 p.m. CST

The series may not be critical for the Colonials’ postseason berth, but it is for the likelihood of their postseason potential. The more wins GW collects, the better seeding the team can capture – which is important in a double-elimination format, in which the top three seeds have a big advantage and being the bottom two seeds is near fatal for a chance to win the tournament, which begins May 25th at Fordham.

“We still got work to do,” Ritchie said. “We still need to win some games in Saint Louis. Nothing is ever for sure until you go win. You know me, I expect a sweep every series. I really do. We put ourselves in a good position to do so.”

Case for the Colonials:

GW will have to play its starters.

Playoffs are real, but seeding is not official. GW will have to decide to what extent the team wants to play for seeding versus playing for health to head into the A-10’s.

The pitching staff may look a little tired, with no starter going past the sixth inning against the Spiders, but playoff-style baseball can call for a team to push the limits of its physical abilities.

Seniors Bobby LeWarne and Jacob Williams will need to pitch deep against a strong Saint Louis offense, and whether it be sophomore Brady Renner, junior Shane Sweeney or even sophomore Robbie Metz, the three starters will need to limit the powerful bats.

And the offense of course will need to continue. The team is a better team with sophomore Mark Osis in left field – lineup depth, defensive rage and arm strength. With Osis in left, and continued offensive production by sophomore Brandon Chapman, junior Eli Kashi and Metz, the team will have a good chance to win two-of-three.

Case for the Billikens:

Saint Louis is 6-3 at home this year in A-10 play.

In those nine games, the Billikens are hitting a team average of .340, compared to its conference average of .273. The team averages over eight runs a game at home in A-10 play and strikes out a mere five times a game.

Two years ago, GW was swept at Saint Louis, losing the three games: 10-4, 10-4, 5-4. Both teams have changed since then, but the Billikens remain a difficult opponent to play on the road.

Saint Louis could roll over the Colonials in a senior weekend, with a strong offense at home and a stingy pitching staff.

The bottom line:

If GW elects to not rest its starters, both on the mound and in the field, the team will once again have a good chance to win a series.

Saint Louis traditionally has one of the most potent offenses in the league, and are one of the most staunch teams to defeat on the road – but if the Colonials have their offense firing, the team’s routinely dominant pitching will be enough to secure victories for GW. If the starters don’t go for the team, in lieu of rest for A-10’s, a Billikens sweep wouldn’t be out of the question.

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This post was written by Hatchet senior staff writer Josh Solomon.

In four years as the head coach of GW baseball, Gregg Ritchie has never been thrown out of a game.

In the fifth inning Ritchie climbed the dugout steps, popped out onto the field and yelled down to the home plate umpire, “That is utterly ridiculous!”

He kept arguing the called second strike in the at bat to sophomore Mark Osis in the fifth inning. The pitch was arguably low, and the call was definitely late. It wasn’t the close call to Ritchie getting thrown out of a game, and it wasn’t intended to get him the hook, but it was demonstrative enough to garner attention.

“When you’re kind of in a down mode and you’re not quite getting in with the game,” Ritchie said. “When they see the manager get a little heightened that gets the rest of the team going. I think it has that effect.”

But arguing balls and strikes didn’t warrant getting thrown of a game today. Richmond’s third base coach had plenty to say. Fans had plenty to say.

The ball game was a near must-win for both clubs: The intensity matched a 90’s NBA playoff game, with loud actions and louder words allowed to breathe on the field.

Ritchie could have gotten the hook at that moment in the fifth. But his team was in the middle of what would become a five-run comeback. GW had just scraped across two runs in the inning but were still down three. Osis stayed in the at bat, singling in a run to cap the inning.

“Our guys keep fighting,” Ritchie said. “It’s one thing we continue to do. We keep fighting. There’s a lot of grit and our guys keep doing it and we’ll just keep fighting back.”

GW entered extra innings. In the 10th inning, with one out and no one on the team’s most consistent hitter all season stepped to the plate.

Junior Bobby Campbell crushed a 0-1 pitch over the left field wall, for his fourth home run of the season, his first at home on the final homestand of the year. The 7-6 win over Richmond improved the team’s record to 10-9 and put them back in postseason contention at the start of the final three-game set at The Tuck.

When Campbell rounded third, he tossed his helmet in the air. When he crossed the plate, he was mobbed by his teammates.

“It’s just all smiles,” Campbell said.

Early on, it seemed that the team’s spirits were low: At bats were ending quickly and unfruitfully, and at the start of their half of the fifth inning, the Colonials were down 6-1.

Notable innings pulled them to the walk-off in the 10th, though.

Senior Luke Olson entered mid at-bat in the sixth inning, facing Richmond’s cleanup hitter and co-captain down 2-0 in the count with the bases loaded. Olson came back to strike him out. He forced the next batter into a come-backer on a 1-2-3 double play.

“It started shifting momentum toward our dugout,” Olson said. “I think that might have ultimately gave us a win, which is awesome. Not sure if it was me, or it might have just been luck, but either way I’ll take it.”

Junior Cody Bryant drove in Kevin Mahala on a two-out base hit in the eighth. Earlier in the inning, Osis doubled to lead off the inning, but was thrown out trying to steal third with no outs, after over-sliding the bag.

Junior closer Eddie Muhl escaped a 10th inning jam with the bases loaded to keep the game knotted at six apiece.

In his final start at home, senior Bobby LeWarne did not have his best stuff. Following an outing at Fordham in which he gave up a lead-off home run to the first batter he faced, the grizzled veteran did so again to Richmond. The Spiders came in as the top home-run-hitting team in conference play.

LeWarne didn’t fare better in the second inning. He gave up three runs on a couple hard hit balls and some bad luck. The first run came on a squeeze play. LeWarne picked up the bunt and tossed it home, but the runner slid around the tag to score. A couple batters later, with the bases loaded, a hard hit grounder stayed fair inside the third base line to drive in two more. In the fifth inning he gave up two more runs.

LeWarne threw five innings, but he was credited with seven hits and six runs, all earned.

It was all forgotten by the time the team huddled around the plate to jump on Campbell. Nearly three and a half hours later, the Colonials sat in a better spot.

“It’s jubilation. It’s joy for the entire squad. It’s joy for every guy that was fighting through that game – and all of the other game that we lose late. You finally get one. It comes at a very great time,” Ritchie said.

They continue play Saturday at 11:30 a.m. and finish up the series against Richmond Sunday at 3 p.m.

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This post was written by Hatchet senior staff writer Josh Solomon.

What: Baseball (9–9 A-10) vs. Richmond (11-10 A-10), Conference Series

Where: Tucker Field at Barcroft Park, Arlington, Va.

When: Friday, May 13 at 5 p.m.; Saturday, at 1 p.m.; Sunday, at 3 p.m.

If the season ended today, GW would not be in the playoffs.

Tied for the final spot into the Atlantic 10 Championship with Davidson (9-9), the Colonials for the first time all season are in peril. The season goal to win the conference tournament and advance to the College World Series is only possible if they make A-10’s.

But with two series remaining the team still controls its own destiny.

The Colonials host Richmond (11-10) in their final home series of the season this weekend. Come Sunday, which is also Senior Day at The Tuck, GW hopes it will be in a better spot to jockey for positioning in the postseason.

Two wins against the Spiders, and at least one win at Saint Louis (10-8) the following weekend should guarantee GW entry to the A-10 Championship, hosted by Fordham at the end of this month.

Case for the Colonials:

Two weeks ago, GW entered a series against VCU with a chance to take first place in the A-10. Instead the Colonials dropped the series and then unexpectedly were swept at Fordham this past weekend.

GW is now 1-5 in its last six games. In those past two series, the Colonials have averaged 3.5 runs per game. The biggest issue overall in this cold stretch has been a consistent offense – a consistent offense from game to game, from inning to inning and from at-bat to at-bat. At times, the team seems poised to break out for a dozen runs and at others, GW can barely string a couple good at-bats together, particularly one without a strikeout.

The Colonials have averaged 7.7 strikeouts per game in the last six. Prior to those six, GW had struck out on average 5.1 times a game. One of the team’s focal points over the past few years of rebuilding was to limit strikeouts. One of the team’s strengths is its speed and its ability to hit and run. Countless times in the past couple of weeks the Colonials have cost themselves a potential big inning by failing to convert on a hit and run opportunity.

If GW can hit, and hit early, the team should be a comfortable spot to win each game in the series – particularly if starters like senior Bobby LeWarne pitch up to their standards all season long.

Case for the Spiders:

Richmond has hit the most home runs in A-10 play, with a towering total of 26 (compared to GW’s eight). The Spiders have scored the second most runs in the conference, with 170 (compared to GW’s second lowest total of 83). The team has the second most walks, with 100 (compared to GW’s league-low 49).

In other words, Richmond can hit.

If the team can continue to hit in conference play, Richmond has a good chance to win the series. The team’s pitching is the Spiders’ weak suit but the team may be able to hold themselves up by their prolific hitting. And if the wind is blowing out, the short wall in left field could be friendly.

A series win very likely means Richmond will secure themselves a bid in the A-10 Championship. So the Spiders are playing for their postseason birth.

The Bottom Line:

Richmond may be a superior hitting team on paper, GW’s pitching and defense may be able to carry them with just a little help from the offense.

The Colonials have the top fielding defense in the A-10 and the second best team ERA (3.35). The Spiders have hit the most home runs and have scored the second most runs.

If GW loses the series, it could be the end of the line for the team’s postseason hopes. If Richmond loses the series, the same is likely so for the Spiders. It’s do-or-die season in conference play.

The first game was pushed back to 5 p.m. because of weather. Sunday’s game is at 3 p.m. because of graduation and senior day at The Tuck.

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