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With seven teams and 12 games in four days, the walkup music playlist at Tucker Field is getting a workout. One suggestion could be Johnny Nash’s “I Can See Clearly Now.”

Because, with the rain gone Friday morning in a game postponed from Thursday afternoon, the Colonials could see clearly. They gathered 11 hits and four walks against six Richmond pitchers in a 7-2 win to survive and move on in the Atlantic 10 championship.

Or, the guys running the PA system could try Taylor Swift’s “Better Than Revenge.” GW dealt some payback to the Spiders team that dealt them a 4-1 loss Wednesday in the tournament opener, a game in which the Colonials struck out six times and left nine men on base.

“We knew who we had to face. Our backs were against the wall so we knew we weren’t going to end this way, against a team we just lost to two days ago. So we knew we were going to come out and make a statement,” said first baseman Bobby Campbell, who collected three hits and one RBI during the game.

Every member of the starting lineup, save shortstop Kevin Mahala who had a rough day at the plate including a soft groundout that left the diamond loaded, reached base.

“I thought the guys came out right away and were aggressive and that was the big thing. We were looking to hunt fastballs early, lay off all the soft stuff and it paid off with our at bats and it kind of wore the guy down a little bit,” said head coach Gregg Ritchie.

Richmond starter Brendan McGuigan threw 73 pitches through five innings, giving up three runs, two earned, on six hits and two walks before being relieved by Keenan Bartlett.

Bartlett would record just one out. The Colonials entered the sixth with a 3-2 lead, but broke out to score four runs in the inning.

Sophomore Cody Bryant, inserted into the lineup in place of Colin Gibbons-Fly and batting ninth, knocked a one-out single to get things started. Freshman Mark Osis came in to pinch run for the slow third baseman. Sophomore left fielder Joey Bartosic hit into what should have been a fielder’s choice at second, but an error by the second baseman put Osis, who had the composure and instinct to know to run, at third and Bartosic at first.

“That was a big moment that actually sparked everything when Osis took third. It looks like a little thing, but it’s probably one of the bigger moments in the inning,” Ritchie said.

The speedy Bartosic then took second on a passed ball. Sophomore second baseman Eli Kashi dropped down a bunt and took first while Osis scored, rookie pitcher Robbie Metz followed with a single which scored Bartosic, and freshman catcher Brandon Chapman reached first to load the bases on a fly ball that was dropped by Richmond’s left fielder.

A five-pitch walk to sophomore right fielder Andrew Selby scored Kashi and got Bartlett yanked from the game for righty Dan Martinson. His first batter, Campbell, bunted in his direction. Bartlett scooped up the ball but couldn’t decide whether to toss it to first or to home and stood, looking back and forth down the first base line, as Metz crossed home plate and Campbell took first. He ended the inning two batters later, but the Colonials had a 7-2 lead.

“As a team we were all seeing it well, we were all feeling good and confident,” Campbell said.

The tough inning was a look at what might have been for GW. Metz got into a two-out, bases loaded jam in the third and was quickly relieved of his duties after walking in a run. He exited having given up two runs, both earned, on six hits and two walks.

But Metz’s relieving crew picked him up. Ritchie hadn’t planned to have Metz go past four innings on the mound in any case, so Luke Olson was ready to go and switch things up on the hill.

“It was a completely different look,” Ritchie said. “A guy [Metz] throwing mid, upper 80’s with a hammer straight down, located away, away, away and then all of a sudden a guy [Olson] who is big and long and slow, sweepy.”

Olson came in throwing strikes low in the zone and using his changeup and got out of the inning with a fielder’s choice grounder to limit the damage. He and Craig LeJeune quieted the big bats of Richmond, finishing out the game with 6.1 scoreless innings of relief. Each allowed just three hits and LeJeune struck out four.

“As teammates we love to pick each other up,” Olson said. “Just stay cool, calm, collected, it can’t be like any different game, it’s just like any regular season game. I just take it the same way.”

With the win, the Colonials move on to play the winner of the game between No. 1 seed Saint Louis and No. 4 seed Davidson Friday night at 8:30.

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Junior Jacob Williams flirted with a complete game Wednesday night in GW's win over Fordham. Williams gave up three runs and lasted into the ninth inning and only left after getting hit in his non-pitching arm by a comebacker. Nora Princiotti | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Junior Jacob Williams flirted with a complete game Wednesday night in GW’s win over Fordham. Williams gave up three runs and lasted into the ninth inning and only left after getting hit in his non-pitching arm by a comebacker. Nora Princiotti | Hatchet Staff Photographer

This post was written by senior staff writer Josh Solomon.

A night at the ballpark. The six and seven seeds tangoed under the white lights and the orange glow of the scoreboard. The first pitches were greeted with the pop of radar guns handled by scouts sitting behind home plate.

A handful of pitches into the bottom of the first inning, GW had the bases loaded. The first three men had walked, in an nontraditional lineup with three leadoff-type batters topping the order. Then, freshman Brandon Chapman got to swing the bat.

With a soft wind pushing out, he stroked a ball to the right center gap, wiping the bases empty with a standup double. The bench erupted, head coach Gregg Ritchie included with perhaps his most emphatic look of the season, posing and flexing like Hulk Hogan.

“That’s about as excited as I’ve got in a long, long time,” Ritchie said. “It was just really rewarding to have that lineup anticipate a game plan and have it work out.”

The lineup changes paid dividends immediately in the hours after the Colonials’ morning loss to Richmond.

GW would go onto win 11-5 at The Tuck Wednesday night, surviving the first day of Atlantic 10 Tournament play. The Colonials will go onto play the loser of the Thursday morning game between No. 2 Rhode Island and No. 3 Richmond, at 5 p.m.

The win wouldn’t come without situational miscues. The Colonials bailed themselves out with big hits – an anomaly for the team lately in conference play. They ran themselves out of a few innings, never putting up more than three in a frame, but found a way to scratch a run in nearly every frame.

The lineup change proved vital to sparking the offense. As usual, sophomore Joey Bartosic led off, but was followed by sophomore Eli Kashi and then freshman Robbie Metz. It was the seventh and sixth time they batted in those respective spots.

Down in the lineup, sophomore Bobby Campbell would bat eighth, after batting no lower than fifth on the season, and drive in a run on a suicide squeeze. Sophomore Kevin Mahala rounded out the lineup and came up with a big two out, two run RBI double in the third to ultimately break open the game, to a seven run lead.

“We wanted to get on them early, especially after Bobby threw so well last game and we weren’t able to push some runs across,” Mahala said. “Getting on them early was definitely a good feeling.”

Following the morning’s loss where base running mistakes were left glaring in the absence of any clutch hits, Ritchie talked about moving the lineup. He felt confident in it, but a different match up in a desperation game called for a tweak or two.

A similar lineup was the pitching matchup. Junior Jacob Williams squared off against Fordham freshman Ben Greenberg. The two faced each other in the final game between the two ball clubs earlier this season, also in Arlington. GW won that game 2-1, with Williams going seven innings, giving up one run on six hits.

Williams gave up three runs Wednesday night in the spot start, but lasted into the ninth. Meanwhile Greenberg exited in the third inning without recording an out, credited with five runs to his name.

“There’s always a little bit of nerves, especially a game like tonight with the season on the line,” Williams said. “You don’t want to be the guy who has the senior’s season to end.”

Williams threw 111 pitches, working the outside of the pitch heavily with his fastball and mixing in his change up.

In the ninth, with Fordham down to its final outs of the season, a senior who has battled significant injuries throughout his collegiate career came to the plate to pitch hit. Ryan Carroll hit his first career home run in his final at bat and was joined by his teammates at the dish to celebrate.

Pitches later, Williams reached for a soft comebacker with his glove hand and over reached, hurting his non-pitching shoulder and forcing him to leave his potential complete game. Freshman Randy Dalrymple came in and gave up one run but closed out the game.

GW will head into Thursday with a chance to keep their preseason hopes of a conference championship and a road to the College World Series alive.

“Every step you take is a sign of maturity. It still may be little baby steps, but you know the consistency really tells you whether you’ve actually matured,” Ritchie said. “We still haven’t been consistent enough. We’ve been resilient.”

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Bobby LeWarne throws a pitch in GW's 4-1 loss to Richmond in the A-10 Tournament Wednesday morning. LeWarne went 7.2 innings giving up four runs, three earned, on four hits. He struck out five and walked two. Nora Princiotti | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Bobby LeWarne throws a pitch in GW’s 4-1 loss to Richmond in the A-10 Tournament Wednesday morning. LeWarne went 7.2 innings giving up four runs, three earned, on four hits. He struck out five and walked two. Nora Princiotti | Hatchet Staff Photographer

This post was written by senior staff writer Josh Solomon.

In the playoffs all it takes is a couple of miscues for a team to be beaten. Luckily for GW, the Atlantic 10 tournament uses a double-elimination format.

The No. 6-seed Colonials fell Wednesday morning in their first game to No. 3-seed Richmond 4-1 at The Tuck – the host field of the A-10 championship.

Playing from their home dugout but as the away team and without their usual at-bat music, GW missed a few opportunities, gave up a few and came out on the short side of the box score.

Down 2-0 entering the seventh, GW got exactly what they did and did not want on one play. Sophomore Eli Kashi lined a ball down the right field line with one out and two on to score one run. Then, on his home turf, he slipped up. He tripped on his way to second, continued on, beat the throw but over-slid the bag and was tagged out.

“I ran around first, tripped, tried to get to second, I was safe at second, and then I slipped past it and he tagged me out. What are you going to do? It’s baseball,” Kashi said.

A reliever entered for Richmond senior Ryan Cook (7-2 in the regular season) and retired lead off hitter, sophomore Joey Bartosic with a liner to center that might have been deep enough to score the run on a sacrifice fly. But instead of playing a game of what-ifs, the Colonials had to prepare for their second game of the tournament just hours later, to fight for their postseason lives.

“I told these guys, ‘Hey, it’s nothing new. Game’s a game.’ We evaluate the few mistakes. We move on. We remind ourselves to run the bases better when the ball is hit,” Ritchie said.

Kashi would pick himself up in the bottom of the inning by laying out for a liner in the hole and popping to his feet at third base to record the first out of the seventh.

“Right before that I was talking to the umpire and he was like, ‘What happened? What happened?’ I said I got you after this pitch and then the ball comes to me,” Kashi said. “It’s definitely an extra focus. Not so much you have to make up for it, but ‘alright, I got to sharpen up’.”

But after GW came back to life, a Spider took their breath away and out of the ballpark with a two out homer off a 3-2 fastball. A solo shot on a fastball down the middle with an open base by the eight-hole hitter made the game a two run ballgame again with two frames to tie it up.

The Colonials would be unable to scrape across a run in the eighth or ninth innings. LeWarne was able to save them the bullpen by lasting into the eighth, but he couldn’t finish the inning after throwing away a comebacker past the first baseman to allow the fourth run of the game to score.

The first blip on the day for LeWarne was a two-run home run to the A-10 Player of the Year, graduate student Michael Morman. It exited the park just left of the high center field fence, instead soaring over the lower wall just next to it. The home run in the seventh left the yard in almost an identical location.

“It’s disappointing,” LeWarne said. “I missed a spot but you can’t do that to hitters like this. They’re a good hitting team, so you got to get back into the zone and keep chugging.”

A few bad pitches cost them the game, but they also had their fair share of chances at the plate.

In the third inning with two outs, Bartosic walked. Cook threw over seven times during the next at bat to check on the speedy Colonial, who eventually swiped second. Freshman Robbie Metz walked, but then sophomore Bobby Campbell grounded out on a 2-0 pitch in a missed opportunity for a team who almost always capitalizes on a Bartosic stolen base.

In their final shot of the morning, with two outs in the ninth, sophomore Kevin Mahala stroked a double and Kashi lined a single to center, which Mahala could have potentially scored on. Running mistakes would cost them as well and Bartosic ended the chance at a comeback with a groundout to short.

“The whole game we thought we had it,” Kashi said. “We were right there. At no point was it kind of like, ‘That’s it. We’re done.’ But it’s tough.”

The Colonials will face the loser of one of Wednesday’s afternoon games. They will face Fordham, VCU or Davidson at 8:30 P.M. Wednesday night at The Tuck in the double elimination tournament. Either junior Jacob Williams (3-3, 3.33 ERA) or freshman Robbie Metz (3-3, 3.07 ERA) will start, depending on match ups.

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Sophomore Eddie Muhl throws a pitch in a GW win over UMass earlier this season. Muhl broke GW's career saves record with his 18th on Friday. Hatchet File Photo.

Sophomore Eddie Muhl throws a pitch in a GW win over UMass earlier this season. Muhl broke GW’s career saves record with his 18th on Friday. Hatchet File Photo.

It took five GW pitchers and a couple of William and Mary miscues, but the Colonials kept a slim lead alive and won their regular season finale, 5-4, against the Tribe Friday afternoon.

The non-conference, Senior Day victory won’t affect GW’s chances of reaching the playoffs, but marked the team’s 30th win of the season and saw sophomore Eddie Muhl pick up his NCAA-leading 17th save on the year, which also set the program record for career saves at 18.

“We’re still in the middle of rebuilding this team, make no doubt about it, but 30 wins is a milestone for any program,” head coach Gregg Ritchie said. “You hit that 30-mark and it’s kind of in a different echelon.”

GW (30-20) reached the 30-win plateau for the first time in a decade and 12th time in program history Friday, but William and Mary (22-28) would not let it happen easily.

Junior starting pitcher Shane Kemp (3-2) received a rude awakening from the day’s first batter, giving up a lead-off double to right center on just his fourth pitch.

After the Tribe scored one run in the top of the first, sophomore Joey Bartosic responded with a lead-off hit of his own in the next frame, and later advanced to third on an error while stealing second. Sophomore Bobby Campbell flied out to right field to bring Bartosic home and tie the game.

Kemp continued to play with fire in the second by walking three batters, but escaping the inning after giving up one run and leaving three stranded.

Freshman catcher Brandon Chapman doubled and would later score to knot the game at two in the bottom of the second off an RBI single from sophomore Kevin Mahala. Ritchie applauded his team’s resiliency after the game, and explained how impressed he’s been with Chapman and the rest of his unseasoned team all year.

“There aren’t many teams out there that get 30 wins when you throw eight guys out on the field who are freshmen and sophomores. And your catcher’s a freshman, that’s one of the toughest things,” he said. “[Catchers] really run a lot of stuff so hats off to Chapman for doing that, and all the young guys.”

Senior Ryan Xepoleas, who was honored alongside fellow fourth-years Xavier Parkmond, Craig LeJeune and Brookes Townsend in a pregame ceremony, scored off an RBI single from freshman Mark Osis and another William and Mary error in the bottom of the second. GW would tack on a fourth run in the frame to take a 4-2 lead into the third.

Ritchie replaced Kemp with junior Randy Dalrymple in between innings. The 6-foot-5-inch reliever who now owns a 0.47 ERA on the season, threw three hitless innings before being relieved by freshman Tyler Swiggart, who also tossed two frames without allowing a hit.

“Dalrymple has really pitched well in pinches, he’s sucked up innings, no bigger than the innings he showed today and Swiggart as well. We still keep shooting ourselves in the foot by hitting batters or getting two outs and walking the guy, but if we don’t have those two guys come out and do what they did, the game doesn’t turn out that way,” Ritchie said.

Swiggart would be charged with one run in the top of the eighth after freshman Robbie Metz gave up a hit in 0.1 innings pitched, but kept the Tribe at bay, maintaining a narrow 4-3 lead.

A solo-homer to right field by sophomore Andrew Selby gave Muhl and the Colonials some breathing room in the bottom of the eighth. Despite giving up one run in the top of the ninth, the record-breaking right-hander sealed the win for his team with a strikeout in his first appearance since a pivotal 6-3 loss to Saint Louis last Sunday.

“There’s one thing about Eddie, which makes him who he is and why he broke all of those records, is that those [losses] typically don’t bother Eddie,” Ritchie said. “It’s a presence that you look for…and it’s a big part of why this team is resilient and why those other guys like Swiggart and Dalrymple come out confident and ready to do their job.”

While the team wrapped up its Atlantic 10 schedule last week, GW’s postseason fate will now be decided after the conclusion of a handful of conference games this weekend. The top 7 teams will advance to the A-10 Championship, held on May 20-23 at the Colonials’ home diamond Tucker Field.

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Sophomore Kevin Mahala celebrates a home run in a game earlier this season. Mahala batted in GW's first run of the game with a triple to deep center in the second inning Sunday against Saint Louis, but the Colonials would lose 6-3 in extra innings. Hatchet File Photo.

Sophomore Kevin Mahala celebrates a home run in a game earlier this season. Mahala batted in GW’s first run of the game with a triple to deep center in the second inning Sunday against Saint Louis, but the Colonials would lose 6-3 in extra innings. Hatchet File Photo.

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

As the rebuilding process goes, it often seems that the moment after the finish line seems to come into focus, a crushing defeat shows that it’s not quite there yet.

GW ran through six innings of Sunday’s rubber match against Saint Louis with the lead. It was their final Atlantic 10 game of the season, while the rest of the conference concludes next week, and a win would have secured the Colonials a playoff spot.

But a belt-high fastball ahead in the count cost them the game. Freshman Robbie Metz, in relief of junior Jacob Williams who got the spot start ahead of him, gave up the go-ahead home run to the lead off batter in the 10th inning – to lose 6-3 and keep the team’s playoff hopes uncertain.

“First, I didn’t think it was gone,” Metz said. “That’s my worse fear, looking up and seeing it go over the fence. Once I saw that, I just changed my attitude and tried to do better than I did on that pitch.”

It was a shocker to a team that looked poised to pull off the win.

Following a game where they were frustrated by runners left in scoring position, the Colonials got the big hit they’d been looking for from sophomore shortstop Kevin Mahala in the second. He tripled to deep center to score one and then scored himself on a suicide squeeze executed by senior Ryan Xepoleas.

“You want to be clicking when these games mean the most at the end,” Mahala said. “So getting hot is definitely a good feeling right now.”

Williams pitched cleanly, occasionally working around tough spots, but trouble in the seventh ended his day. After a leadoff walk, a wild pitch, a double and a costly misplay by Mahala brought two runs home for Saint Louis to tie the game, Metz came in from playing second base to pitch.

When the bottom of the ninth rolled around, GW sent three batters to the plate, all of whom have spent time batting clean up this year.

The first batter, sophomore Andrew Selby, walked. The second batter, Mahala, bunted him over into scoring position. The third batter, Xepoleas, smoked a liner to the first baseman. Then a fly out ended the inning.

“Baseball. It’s baseball. Keep moving forward and keep pushing forward, that’s it,” head coach Gregg Ritchie said. “Played a great game, played a great series. We played really good series the last three series against the top three teams. Just really good. Came up short.”

Baseball it was. The nation’s leading closer couldn’t even hold the game. Coming in relief of Metz in the 10th, sophomore Eddie Muhl gave up a grounder up the middle for a seeing-eye-single and then a pop up dropped in front of the charging sophomore Joey Bartosic in left field. Two runs scored on those two hits, also known as line drives in the box score.

The Colonials hit the ball hard in the final frame, but couldn’t find any holes. They would leave six on base in the game.

“We hit the ball well today,” Metz said. “They just got lucky.”

GW will face William & Mary in non-conference play at the end of the upcoming week, including a day-night doubleheader on Thursday, in preparation for a potential night game in the playoffs.

They will have their conference bye-week over the weekend, while the rest of the A-10 logjam sitting just above .500 jockeys for playoff positioning. At 13-10 and aided by some tiebreakers it’s uncertain, but seems likely, that the Colonials will remain in the top seven and return to the A-10 Championship. The team missed the playoffs last year after making it for the first time in seven years the year prior.

“If we’re in, we’re in,” Ritchie said. “If we’re not, then we had a hell of a season. Like I said, it’s a rebuild. Whatever we do is gravy. Just keep pushing forward. Keep going. It’s always baseball.”

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Pitcher Brandon Ritchie only managed to record two outs before being pulled in the Colonials' loss to St. Louis on Saturday. Dan Rich | Contributing Photo Editor.

Pitcher Brandon Ritchie only managed to record two outs before being pulled in the Colonials’ loss to Saint Louis on Saturday. Dan Rich | Contributing Photo Editor.

This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Josh Solomon.

With little leaguers lining the stands Saturday afternoon at Tucker Field, youthful inconsistency may have rubbed off on GW pitchers – evidenced by walks and mental mishaps.

GW’s starting pitcher, sophomore Brandon Ritchie, did not make it out of the first inning after walking in the first two runs of the game. Saint Louis wouldn’t score more than one run in any other inning, but they tacked on in three other frames against five other GW pitchers, aided by seven walks and two unearned runs from GW errors, to take the second game of the series 5-2.

Entering the day, GW had a chance to clinch their final Atlantic 10 series of the regular season, after winning the day prior in a duel of team aces. The Colonials sat in fourth place, with Saint Louis and two others in a three-way tie for first place, one game behind in the loss column.

At the close, GW fell to 13-9 in conference in a game that was never quite out of their reach. The team left eight runners on base and could could never come up with enough big hits.

“We played a very subpar, mediocre game today,” head coach Gregg Ritchie said. “It was somewhat ugly, especially on the mound. And we’re sitting there with a chance to win it in the last inning.”

After Brandon Ritchie left the game with two outs in the first inning, junior Randy Dalrymple came in relief for three innings, giving up one run on two hits and two walks.

“I wasn’t happy with guys coming in and throwing ball one, ball two, ball three,” Ritchie said. “That was excruciating.”

The fourth started with a questionable safe call at first followed by a single to center that led to a bunt by the Billikens. Dalrymple fielded it but could not make a play on the ball. The next batter hit a comebacker to him at the mound and he threw home for the force out to get one.

The following batsman did the same but, this time, Dalrymple decided to try to turn two by spinning and throwing to second, instead of going home. GW could only get the one out and the third run of the game scored.

Sophomore Jordan Sheinkop came in relief, throwing 1.2 innings, giving up one run on three hits and one walk. After the first two batters of the inning singled up the middle, Saint Louis’ leadoff hitter, the speedy Michael Bozarth, bunted down the third baseline. Sheinkop fielded the ball, looked at third base and then lost his opportunity to throw to first. The one run in the inning would score on a fielder’s choice, with freshman Kevin Hodgson on the mound.

Junior Luke Olson came in relief for Hodgson in the seventh after a batter reached on an error by sophomore Eli Kashi. The next batter ripped a sinking liner to right field in front of sophomore Andrew Selby, bouncing past him to allow a run to score.

The damage was minimized every inning, but the Colonials were kept at arms length from Saint Louis.

“You don’t want to stand out there for that long, but that shouldn’t damper any team that has any guts,” Ritchie said. “I don’t think that’s what we’re about it. I think we’re about guts. I think that’s why we’ve been so resilient in tough times.”

Down four at the time, GW got the big hit they had been looking for in the sixth inning. With runners on first and second, senior Ryan Xepoleas crushed a ball over the second baseman’s head like the orange soda, quenching the fans’ thirst for a Colonials run after a seven pitch at bat. But they just couldn’t pick up one more big hit to potentially tie the game, never having another good opportunity to scratch a crooked number.

“Our pitchers came in after that and held the game close enough for us to do something. We didn’t execute offensively when we had a chance,” Ritchie said. “That was the biggest thing, beside the pitching.”

The starting rotation will get a mix up Sunday, with junior Jacob Williams getting the start instead of freshman Robbie Metz – who will be available in the bullpen.

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The Colonials celebrate a win earlier in the season. GW picked up a critical conference win over first-place Saint Louis Friday. Hatchet File Photo.

The Colonials celebrate a win earlier in the season. GW picked up a critical conference win over first-place Saint Louis Friday. Hatchet File Photo.

This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Josh Solomon.

GW had floated atop the Atlantic 10 all season before dropping two straight series to fall to fifth place – like a student acing a class right up until the final.

But the dramatic drop off still had the Colonials just two games back in the loss column to Saint Louis, the team tied for first place, with the Billikens coming to town for a weekend series.

And with two of the league’s aces dueling on the mound Friday, GW crept a game closer to first place Friday with a 6-4 win over the league’s top scoring offense, as the Colonials prepare to host the A-10 Championship over Memorial Day Weekend.

“They’re going to play the game, whether you put pressure on yourself or not. Pressure is just a self-prophecy,” head coach Gregg Ritchie said. “I’m really proud of these guys – they didn’t come out with the jitter type thing.”

Junior Bobby LeWarne (8-4) out-dueled Billiken redshirt senior Clay Smith (8-2) giving up just two hits to Smith’s eight, and a two-out, three-run rally in the fifth led GW to win the weekend opener.

Saint Louis threatened in the eighth, scoring two runs to tighten up the game. LeWarne started the inning with 98 pitches to his name and only lasted a few more. After the leadoff hitter reached, LeWarne gave up a double down the line to the nine-hole hitter to allow his first run of the game.

GW then brought in senior setup man Craig LeJeune with the conference’s top hitter, who was batting .405 entering the game, coming to the plate. LeJeune also gave up an RBI double, but then battled back from a 3-1 count to get the final out of the inning on strikes. He returned for the ninth in lieu of the nation’s saves leader, sophomore Eddie Muhl, to save Muhl’s arm for the series, and gave up two runs before closing out the game.

Saint Louis was averaging over seven runs per game in conference play, but giving up close to five. The Colonials entered the game 4-2 in games where they scored five runs or more.

“You got to realize you have to score five or six,” Ritchie said. “So you try to make a lineup that may even incite less defense – but we’re all about pitching and defense – so we still got to stay with that part of it.”

The Colonials scored the first three runs of the game on a two-out rally in the fifth inning, sparked by a smart coaching decision. After freshman Robbie Metz singled up the middle, Ritchie held sophomore Bobby Campbell from swinging until Metz swiped second – after being burned earlier in the game when the hitters wasted would-be stolen bags by swinging at pitches. Campbell grounded the next ball back up the middle to score the first run of the game.

“You can’t get frustrated,” Campbell said. “You just have to stay with the plan and execute, like we did in the fifth and later on in the game.”

Sophomore Andrew Selby would double in one run and sophomore Colin Gibbons-Fly would drive in another. GW held Selby from scoring on a Gibbons-Fly base hit to right after the speedy sophomore Joey Bartosic was hosed at the plate by the right fielder in the inning prior.

As well as the offense came up in the clutch, so did LeWarne with his defense behind him. In a typical trouble inning for Iowan, LeWarne walked the lead off batter in the seventh inning but then forced a fielder’s choice and a double play to end the threat.

In the fifth, senior Ryan Xepoleas pulled off a leap straight out of the movie X-Men at the high wall in right center to prevent a potential RBI, when the game was still scoreless. Xepoleas had been plugged into the lineup, in a platoon situation with freshman Matt Cosentino, because of his ability to cover the gaps in the outfield against a flyball-hitting team.

A swift double play also ended a threat from Saint Louis in the second, after the Billikens hit a hard grounder to short for their first hit of the game.

“It’s huge,” LeWarne said. “Being able to get ground balls, Xepo made a crazy play, I mean without them, we wouldn’t have won.”

The Colonials will head back to the diamond Saturday at 1 p.m. with sophomore Brandon Ritchie on the mound as they continue to jockey for position in the A-10 standings before the conference championship.

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Freshman Robbie Metz throws a pitch during a win against Georgetown earlier this season. Metz earned his fourth A-10 Rookie of the Week award. Hatchet File Photo.

Freshman Robbie Metz throws a pitch during a win against Georgetown earlier this season. Metz earned his fourth A-10 Rookie of the Week award. Hatchet File Photo.

This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Josh Solomon.

Despite a rough start from freshman Robbie Metz in the rubber match against Rhode Island Sunday, the rookie earned his fourth Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Week honors of the season, his first since March 9, the league announced Monday.

Metz hit well this week over a five game stretch, including a losing series to Rhode Island. He batted .500 (10-20) with seven runs, three RBI, one double and four stolen bases. GW went 3-2 on the week, including two midweek wins against Towson and Coppin State.

In Wednesday’s game against Coppin State, Metz went 2-3 with three runs, three RBI and two stolen bases in a lopsided 11-2 win.

In A-10 play at Rhode Island, he went 6-13 and scored three runs.

Metz struck out in a critical moment in the first game against the Rams, down two runs with two outs in the ninth. The first two Colonials reached base, but Rhode Island retired the side, getting Metz on strikes for the final out.

Metz pitched well into the fifth inning on Sunday until a three run home run eventually chased him from the ballgame. He did have a good day at the plate, going 3-4 with one run and two steals.

Metz is currently batting .304, fourth-best on the team, and has scored 24 runs, second-best on the team. He also leads all starters on the team with a 2.78 ERA in 55 innings pitched over 10 starts. His ERA is good for fifth-best in the conference among starters.

Metz was also awarded the Georgey for Rookie of the Year at the awards ceremony for GW athletes on Thursday.

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Sophomore Eddie Muhl throws a pitch in a GW win over UMass earlier this season. Muhl got an easy save Saturday, but gave up a game-tying triple after a four pitch walk on Sunday as the Colonials dropped their series at Rhode Island. Hatchet File Photo.

Sophomore Eddie Muhl throws a pitch in a GW win over UMass earlier this season. Muhl got an easy save Saturday, but gave up a game-tying triple after a four pitch walk on Sunday as the Colonials dropped their series at Rhode Island. Hatchet File Photo.

This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Josh Solomon.

After scoring a go-ahead run in the top of the ninth, in the rubber match at Rhode Island, GW was on their way to first place in the Atlantic 10 conference.

A win meant the top spot, but a loss meant tumbling down into a logjam for fifth place, entering the final two weeks of the regular season.

With the stakes so high, the Colonials brought in sophomore Eddie Muhl – one of the nation’s top closers by saves. Muhl had thrown two easy close-out innings in a save the day before, but walked the first batter he faced on four straight pitches and then gave up a game-tying triple on a pitch right down Broadway that got the young, tired arm yanked.

The next pitcher retired his first batter, and GW head coach Gregg Ritchie was prepared to intentionally walk the next two batters to load the bases and bring up the bottom of the Rams’ lineup. He was playing the percentages.

Except the Colonials wouldn’t reach that mark. Sophomore Brandon Ritchie threw GW’s second wild pitch while trying to intentionally walk a batter in the game, and allowed the game winning run to score.

Rhode Island won the game 7-6 and the series 2-1 to move into first place in the A-10, and GW was left with the short stick, a few pitches away from not having to settle for fifth place.

“You have the moment in time where you feel it immediately. It’s like when the ball goes to the backstop you go ‘Oh my god.’ You feel it right then,” Ritchie said.

The Colonials then headed back to the team bus to travel the 387 miles down I-95 back to campus for class the next day.

“I’m not happy we lost. The players aren’t happy. They’re pretty pissed,” Ritchie said. “They’re mad at themselves, you can see it in their eyes, you can see it in their face, but at the same time we went and got dinner on the way home and didn’t let it get in the way of everyone clapping and singing happy birthday to Andrew Selby.”

But although Selby was another year older, the youth of the Colonials had shown up. This time, it came at the expense of a veteran Rhode Island team.

The Colonials have won 28 games this season – the most since 2005, when they lost in the A-10 Championship game. They still have six games to play, three in conference, and are two games out of first in the loss column. But they’ve now dropped three series in a row. The wheels haven’t come off, but the inexperience of a team full of freshmen and sophomores is leading to a number of stingingly close losses.

But Ritchie, who’s been there before with the 2012 Pittsburgh Pirates, who fell from playoff contention in the final month of the MLB season, says he’s still seeing the big picture. The top seven teams in the A-10 make the playoffs.

“I’ve been around a team that was right there,” Ritchie said. “You sit there and you go ‘Oh man,’ and you look back at it and you go ‘Wow, that was a pretty damn good season.’ Your heart doesn’t want to say that, because you feel like you missed the mark. That’s the competitor in you. That’s the real winning mentality. Because you have that way, the next year or the next year when it actually does happen is because of the way you handled it a year or two ago. That’s the growth.”

Midway through the season, the growing pains weren’t showing as much. Now, the team has struggled to close out the campaign, though losses have come by the slimmest of margins. In the past three series, GW has been outscored by an average of 1.5 runs per game and most losses have come down to one bad inning. Two of them have fallen on the shoulders of Muhl, the normally lights-out closer.

Normally six runs would be enough for the Colonials pitching staff, but freshman Robbie Metz had a rough start by his standards. He left the game in the fifth, after giving up a three run home run to cap a start that finished with a line of 4.2 innings, four runs on nine hits, four strikeouts and one walk. He threw 91 pitches. Muhl would be tagged with two runs and the tough loss.

“I think our staff and the players have understood that if you let it go much further than that, whether it’s a win or a loss, it’s not going to be beneficial to you down the road,” Ritchie said. “We talked about wiping it clean, we talked about rinsing it off, flushing it down the toilet after you have allowed yourself to process it. I think that’s why we’re sitting at 28-16 and not 16-28.”

Weekend Recap

Friday, 3-5 Rhode Island

Down two runs entering the eighth inning, GW managed to put their first two hitters on board in both of the final two frames, but to no avail.

Junior Bobby LeWarne got stuck with the loss after giving up five runs in 6.1 innings with 11 hits and five strikeouts. He dropped to 7-4 on the season after falling victim to a few well-placed hits in the seventh and departed after throwing 110 pitches, 75 for strikes.

Sophomore Joey Bartosic missed the game, still recovering from a virus going around among the team.

Saturday, 4-3 GW

The big bop came courtesy of sophomore Colin Gibbons-Fly. GW entered the sixth down three runs after a short start of 2.1 innings from sophomore Jacob Williams who gave up all three Rams runs. Gibbons-Fly came to the plate with an opportunity to do what Ritchie says he is “tremendous at,” hitting breaking balls.

With one run already across, Gibbons-Fly stroked an 0-1 breaking ball for a three run home run which would decide the game.

“That matchup just presented itself, through the homework and the numbers, that he would have a good opportunity to do some damage,” Ritchie said about his designated hitter for the day. “Now a home run is extra special damage, but you know, it did not surprise me.”

Redshirt senior Craig LeJeune and Muhl would both throw two innings to close out the game. Muhl threw only 13 pitches in his two innings.

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Sophomore Eli Kashi celebrates scoring a run in a game earlier this season. Kashi went 2-3 with one RBI and one run scored in GW's win over Coppin State Wednesday. Zach Montellaro | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Sophomore Eli Kashi celebrates scoring a run in a game earlier this season. Kashi went 2-3 with one RBI and one run scored in GW’s win over Coppin State Wednesday. Zach Montellaro | Hatchet Staff Photographer

This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Josh Solomon.

For GW, a Wednesday afternoon baseball game might have been a good distraction from finals.

But their opponent needed a bigger distraction. For West Baltimore’s Coppin State, a team who entered the afternoon 3-34-2, the game meant they got to play a game after the short drive to D.C.

“We weren’t going far from home, but far enough where it seemed like miles and miles and miles away, because we do escape the tensions of all that’s going on back home,” said Coppin State head coach Sherman Reed. Reed was born and raised in West Baltimore, the location of the recent Baltimore protests and riots in response to the death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man whose spine was severed while he was in police custody.

The Eagles drove down in two team vans with 20 ballplayers and coaches, away from the distractions going on blocks away from Coppin State’s campus in the Mondawmin neighborhood of Baltimore. Although it has been relatively quiet and void of trouble, Reed gave his guys Monday and Tuesday off, in addition to university-wide abbreviated schedules, and called his players every couple hours to check on them.

“It’s pretty depressing,” Reed said on the recent events. “We had some teleconference calls lined up on Monday and we had to move those, because quite honestly when you’re recruiting, you really need to be in your right frame of mind. There was so much just going on in Baltimore at that time, me and my assistant agreed just to reschedule those until we had a better hold on things going on in the city.”

Potential concerns and accommodations were discussed early in the week between Reed and GW head coach Gregg Ritchie. Mother nature also cooperated with a beautiful Wednesday afternoon for some baseball.

But Wednesday afternoon, as the Baltimore Orioles played against the Chicago White Sox in front of a ballpark kept empty over concerns for fan safety, the Eagles faced the Colonials in front of about 30 fans at Tucker Field in Arlington, Va. The Colonials had hosted Towson, another Baltimore-based team, the day before in a 9-4 win.

Through the first four innings Wednesday, the game was tied at one with Coppin State out hitting GW 5-3.

With slower pitching coming from the Eagles than the Colonials are used to seeing, GW got caught out in front of pitches and chased balls. But when a pitcher with a little zip on his fastball came out of the bullpen, the Colonials bats started to wake up.

GW started the fifth with a leadoff walk. A run scored on a badly defended bunt and a wild pitch. But the real awakening came in the sixth inning when the Colonials scored six runs on six hits, all with two outs, batting around in the lineup. They tacked on three more in the seventh, when the subs came in and got a piece of the action.

“Every team can hang in there and every team can beat you,” Ritchie said. “If you don’t play to a level to score runs and stop them from scoring, you will get beat by anyone in America.”

GW would go on to win 11-2 and improve to 26-14, with 17 wins at home. They now gear up for their most important series to date: a three-game weekend stretch at Rhode Island. The Rams are tied for first place in the Atlantic 10 with Richmond, with both teams one game ahead of GW in the loss column.

GW fielded a makeshift lineup due to a stomach bug that sidelined sophomore shortstop Kevin Mahala, freshman outfielder Matt Cosentino and sophomore leadoff man Joey Bartosic. Ritchie said resting the slightly sick Bartosic was merely a precaution.

Freshman Robbie Metz fell into the leadoff spot, going 2-4 with three RBI and three runs scored. Sophomore Eli Kashi, getting the start at his natural position of shortstop, went 2-3 with one RBI and one run scored.

“My approach is to just shoot the six-hole, hit to the other side. That’s been the biggest thing for me because it makes sure I’m focused, make sure I’m shooting it the other way,” said Kashi, who also talked to some Coppin State players before the game about how they have been affected by the protests.

Sophomore Cody Bryant would leave the game after hurting his hand while diving for a line drive at third base. Junior Andy Young would come in and pick up his third and fourth hits of the season, scoring two runs. Four bench players would come in during the game, along with three pitchers.

Junior Randy Dalrymple picked up the start, going three plus innings giving up one unearned run on five hits. He exited when he could no longer locate his fastball. Brandon Ritchie came in in relief, pounding the strike zone to shut down the Eagles in five no-hit innings, a big turnaround for the sophomore who has had trouble finding the zone.

By the time freshman submariner Zane Schreiber entered the game, the shadows had grown longer, the innings had grown shorter and Coppin State was on its way to dropping its 35th game of the season and heading back to West Baltimore. With two outs in the top of the ninth, junior Lance Montano stroked a double to the wall in left center, scoring their first run since the third inning.

“I can say that despite it being very brief, that two, three, four hour escape does nothing but good for all the guys,” Reed said.

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