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The Colonials celebrate a win earlier in the season. GW fell to 11-6 on the season, dropping two out of three at George Mason over the weekend. Zach Montellaro | Hatchet Staff Photographer

The Colonials celebrate a win earlier in the season. GW fell to 11-6 on the season, dropping two out of three at George Mason over the weekend. Zach Montellaro | Hatchet Staff Photographer

FAIRFAX, Va. - It’s said that if you have the best closer in baseball, you should stick with him.

GW had the best closer in sophomore Eddie Muhl, the NCAA’s leader in saves with 16, going into the game. He was one away from tying the GW career saves record with 17.

But instead, in a game of diving stops and line drive catches, a hard-hit ground ball snuck under the outstretched glove of sophomore shortstop Kevin Mahala with two outs in the ninth. The ball rolled into vacant left center and the game was tied up.

An inning later, Muhl let the leadoff man on again, and once again he scored for George Mason, this time on the only hard hit ball against the closer who had yet to blow a save all season, and the Patriots won the rubber match 4-3 Sunday in extra innings.

The win clinched the series against the Colonials, who were looking to win their conference-leading 12th game of the season. GW fell to 11-6 on the season, one game back in the loss column of Richmond and Rhode Island, who they’ll play next weekend, for first place in the Atlantic 10, with two conference series left in the season.

“There’s parity all around,” head coach Gregg Ritchie said. “Every time you look at the top 25, eight teams get upset. Every game’s a game and you just got to try to win as many games as you can.”

Through five innings the game was comfortable for GW. They had a 3-0 lead heading into the sixth, an inning after freshman starter Robbie Metz allowed his first hit of the game.

Although Metz did not make it through the sixth inning, he looked as good as he’s been for a while until it began. At one point he fanned five in a row. The packed crowd roared when the Patriots singled in the fifth, acknowledging how difficult it was to hit the rookie. Metz also only pitched in the game, instead of hitting as he normally does, allowing him to focus on his work on the mound.

“Robbie threw well but got a little gassed at the end, lost command,” Ritchie said. “He started not locating, but he did a fine job. He just didn’t pull it out and made some mistakes.”

In the sixth he lost control of his fastball, allowing two to score and leaving two on for redshirt senior Craig LeJeune. The Colonials’ former closer threw 2.2 innings, holding the Patriots to no runs and striking out three before handing the ball off to his bullpen buddy, Muhl.

“He answered the bell big time,” Ritchie said. “He did a lot. He got us to that spot.”

Normally that spot, a late lead, is enough for GW. But not on Sunday.

Two of GW’s three runs were manufactured by an unusual source. Sophomore Cody Bryant, who entered the game with six hits, all singles, doubled twice on hard hit balls.

In the second, Bryant doubled with two strikes and two outs and then scored on a two-strike double by sophomore Eli Kashi. Bryant doubled again in the fourth to drive in the Colonials’ last run of the game.

Sophomore Joey Bartosic helped manufacture GW’s first run in the first inning. He led off the game with an infield single, stole second and then scored on an RBI single by sophomore Bobby Campbell.

But in the 10th, Ritchie sent Bartosic, whose success rate heading into the game was 85 percent. The batter faked a bunt, but the deception wasn’t enough to help out Bartosic, who was hosed down at second, squandering the leadoff base hit.

“I’m not truly happy with myself in some of the situations, but sometimes things don’t work out. You just keep playing the game,” Ritchie said.

Weekend Recap

Friday, 5-4 GW
Junior Bobby LeWarne won his conference-leading seventh win of the season. The team leader in wins threw seven innings, allowing four runs on eight hits while striking out eight.

Unlike in Sunday’s affair, GW’s normally successful pitching routine of a starter, LeJeune and Muhl did, in fact, work to record the series opening win. Muhl was hit in the bicep by a comebacker in what would be the final out of the game, but Ritchie said he was unaffected by it on Sunday.

GW broke the scoreless tie in the fourth with back-to-back doubles by Metz and Campbell to score one. Then freshman Brandon Chapman connected for his first career homer to drive in two.

They scored their other two runs of the game in the top of the seventh to provide a safety net for when LeWarne would give two back in bottom of the inning. Mahala and sophomore Andrew Selby both doubled to drive in a run each.

Saturday, 0-4 George Mason
George Mason’s John Williams threw a complete game shutout. He allowed four hits, three of them to Bartosic and one to Selby.

“We just didn’t hit. We had a lot of off-the-end bat contact,” Ritchie said. “That was it. The guy threw away and soft. We just didn’t get it done.”

In a change to the weekend pitching rotation that normally sees Metz throw Saturday and junior Shane Kemp throw Sunday, with help from the bullpen, sophomore Jacob Williams got the start Saturday instead, pushing Metz back a day.

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Sophomore Eddie Muhl throws a pitch in GW win over UMass earlier this season. Muhl leads the nation in saves with 14. Andrew Goodman | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Sophomore Eddie Muhl throws a pitch in GW win over UMass earlier this season. Muhl leads the nation in saves with 14. Andrew Goodman | Hatchet Staff Photographer

This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Josh Solomon.

The National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association announced Tuesday that sophomore Eddie Muhl was one of 39 players on its midseason watch list for the Stopper of the Year Award.

Muhl leads the nation with a total of 14 saves. Just over a week ago, Muhl set the GW all-time single season saves record with his 13th.

The five finalists will be announced June 3, before the NCAA Super Regional competition begins. The nation’s saves leader, plus four other outstanding closers will be nominated. The award will be handed out during the College World Series. No GW closer has ever won the award since its founding in 2005.

Muhl currently boasts a 0.47 ERA in 19.1 innings in 18 appearances. The 6-foot-4 righty out of Sherman Oaks, Calif. has struck out 17 and walked just four batters this season. He has thrown 12 straight scoreless innings dating back to March 14, his second-longest scoreless streak after he went 18.2 innings without giving up a run spanning the end of last season to the beginning of this one.

Muhl can enter further into Colonial lore by recording two more saves to tie Bryan Beggs, a 2001 alumnus who currently holds the career record for most saves with 17. Muhl would be in familiar company in the GW record books: His aunt Kas Allen, a 1988 alumna, is in the GW Athletic Hall of Fame as a former women’s basketball player.

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Chance Malek pitched a scoreless two-thirds of a frame in GW's loss to Fordham on Saturday. Zach Montellaro | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Chance Malek pitched a scoreless two-thirds of a frame in GW’s loss to Fordham on Saturday. Zach Montellaro | Hatchet Staff Photographer

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Peter Hoegler.

GW began its weekend series against Fordham with momentum.

The Colonials were winners of 12 of their last 14 games and stood atop the Atlantic 10 standings. But they lost steam against the Rams, losing two of three to fall to third in the league.

The Colonials got back on track Sunday, as junior Matthieu Robért came up with a pinch-hit RBI single in the bottom of the eighth to avoid a series sweep. The Colonials picked up their 10th conference win of the year, good for the most in the A-10.

“If you can find a way to scrap one out when you’re not playing your best, that’s the sign of a championship team,” head coach Gregg Ritchie said.

After a lead-off double, Fordham jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the top of the second on an RBI single. But starting pitcher Jacob Williams – who went seven innings, giving up one earned run on six hits – got out of his second straight jam and kept the game close for the Colonials early. Of the 88 pitches that Williams threw on the afternoon, 87 of them were fastballs.

“Williams did what he does best,” Ritchie said. “He is very tough out there. Williams is great at reading hitters on where to spot his fastball and utilizing his command.”

Fordham threatened to tack on another run in the seventh after a lead-off double, but senior center fielder Ryan Xepoleas came up big – throwing out a hustling Fordham base runner at the plate and ending the top of the inning.

In the bottom of the inning, GW got on the board after sophomore Andrew Selby singled to right, which scored Bobby Campbell. Fordham’s right fielder misplayed the ball, allowing Selby to advance to third. But GW’s bats came up cold yet again as sophomore Kevin Mahala and Xepoleas went down swinging, leaving Selby at third.

In the eighth, sophomore Eli Kashi hit a one-out single and advanced to second on an infield base hit by sophomore Joey Bartosic. Robert, who came into pinch hit for freshman Robbie Metz, then put the Colonials up for good with a game-winning RBI single. Robert has only 20 at-bats on the season but is batting .400.

“We figured out a way to win today,” Ritchie said. “It’s a sign of a resilient ball club.”

The Colonials will look to get back on a winning streak with a non-conference game at Towson on Tuesday afternoon.

Weekend Recap

Friday: 5-3 Fordham
Junior Bobby LeWarne kept Fordham scoreless through five innings, but then ran out of gas in the sixth and allowed three runs, two of which were earned. The Rams tacked on two from there to take game one, 5-3.

The GW bats came alive in the seventh inning as senior Ryan Xepoleas drove in sophomore Andrew Selby on a single to right center. Mahala, who came up with his sixth multiple-hit game of the season, scored later in the inning on a groundout to cut the Fordham lead to two.

In the bottom of the eighth, the Colonials had a runner on third but were unable to bring him home.

Saturday: 6-2 Fordham
GW posted two on the board early, but Fordham added six unanswered runs from the fifth inning on to take game two, 6-2.

Metz kept the Rams scoreless through four before giving a two-run shot in the fifth, tying the score at two. After adding a run in the sixth, Fordham added three insurance runs in the top of the ninth.

“Mentally, on the mound, we lost our focus of what the plan was,” Ritchie said. “We walked too many guys, and that got us into a lot of trouble.”

GW took a 1-0 lead in the first when Bartosic singled, stole second, advanced to third on a bunt and scored on a double steal. In the second, Mahala came up with a sacrifice fly, plating Campbell.

Freshmen Chance Malek and Tyler Swiggart and sophomore Jordan Sheinkop all pitched scoreless outings in relief for the Colonials.

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The Colonials out-dueled the Fordham Rams 2-1 to win the third game in their weekend series.

Barcroft Park also hosted a “Bark at Barcroft” event, where fans were invited to bring man’s best friend to the game.

The rescue agency Homeward Trails Animal Rescue had several ready-for-adoption dogs at the park.

Local Little Leaguers watching batting practice before the GW baseball game on April 19. Zach Montellaro | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Local Little Leaguers watch batting practice before the GW baseball game on April 19.

Rex the Boxer holds a baseball in his mouth before the GW game. Rex was at the game for the "Bark at Barcroft" event. Zach Montellaro | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Rex the Boxer holds a baseball in his mouth before the GW game. Rex was at the game for the “Bark at Barcroft” event.

Scruffy sits on the lap of a a Homeward Trails Animal Rescue volunteer. Homeward Trails finds foster homes for dogs until they are adopted. Zach Montellaro | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Scruffy sits on the lap of a a Homeward Trails Animal Rescue volunteer. Homeward Trails finds foster homes for dogs until they are adopted.

Fans play with Stella, a two month old rescue dog, before the game. Zach Montellaro | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Fans play with Stella, a two-month-old rescue dog, before the game.

Matt Cosentino (no. 7) greets teammates during the pregame introductions. Cosentino would go 1-3 at the plate. Zach Montellaro | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Matt Cosentino (No. 7) greets teammates during the pregame introductions. Cosentino would go 1-3 at the plate.

Junior Jacob Williams throws a pitch during GW's game against Fordham. Williams started the game and pitched 7 innings of one-run ball and got a no-decision. Zach Montellaro | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Junior Jacob Williams throws a pitch during GW’s game against Fordham. Williams started the game and pitched seven innings of one-run ball and had a no-decision.

Sophomore Eli Kashi tags out a Fordham runner trying to steal third base. The Colonials would defeat the Rams 2-1. Zach Montellaro | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Sophomore Eli Kashi tags out a Fordham runner trying to steal third base. The Colonials would defeat the Rams 2-1.

Sophomore Eli Kashi celebrates scoring the go-ahead run in the bottom on the eighth. GW won the third game in the series with Fordham. Zach Montellaro | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Sophomore Eli Kashi celebrates scoring the go-ahead run in the bottom on the eighth. GW won the third game in the series against Fordham.

Freshman Matt Cosentino fouls a ball off. Cosentino had one hit during the Colonials' 2-1 victory. Zach Montellaro | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Freshman Matt Cosentino fouls a ball off. Cosentino had one hit during the Colonials’ 2-1 victory.

The Colonials celebrate their 2-1 win over Fordham on Sunday. GW dropped the first two games in the series. Zach Montellaro | Hatchet Staff Photographer

The Colonials celebrate their 2-1 win over Fordham on Sunday. GW dropped the first two games in the series.

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The Colonials celebrate a victory earlier in the season. GW avoided a season sweep to UMES on Wednesday, winning 10-1 on the road. File Photo by Zach Montellaro | Hatchet Staff Photographer

The Colonials celebrate a victory earlier in the season. GW avoided a season sweep to UMES on Wednesday, winning 10-1 on the road. File Photo by Zach Montellaro | Hatchet Staff Photographer

This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Josh Solomon.

Entering this season with lofty goals, GW had outscored the University of Maryland Eastern Shore by 20 combined runs in three games.

Then came March 3, when the Colonials lost by five runs to the Hawks at home. After that loss, GW’s legendary beards were nearly sent under the knife, less than a month into the season.

Instead, the beards lasted for a bit, the Colonials took a road trip to California, battled some of the top teams in the country and worked their way up to the most wins in the Atlantic 10. But what they had yet to accomplish was revenge, until a 16-hit night earned GW a 10-1 win against UMES in Princess Anne, Md. on Wednesday to improve to 22-10 on the season.

“I just reminded them that if you take a team lightly, they’ll do to you what they did to you last time,” head coach Gregg Ritchie said. “You guys really need to play this game as if it’s a playoff game.”

Although the hitting numbers posted were strong, the runs were spread across three innings: the second, seventh and the five-run eighth. Even with big numbers on the board, though, Ritchie was not entirely satisfied.

“We played OK,” Ritchie said. “It wasn’t the best game we played. It wasn’t the worst. It was just OK. We did what we set out to do, which is stick to the game plan, execute it better, regardless of whether we got hits early on, the at-bats were extremely productive toward the game plan.”

The five sophomores in the starting lineup went a combined 12-24. Bobby Campbell and Andrew Selby stayed hot with three hits on five at-bats each and a run for Selby. Joey Bartosic collected two hits, scored two runs and drove in one. Eli Kashi, notably in the nine-hole, went 3-4, both driving in and scoring a pair of runs.

Others rung in, too, like freshman Robbie Metz, who went 1-5 with three hard hit balls recorded for outs, plus a walk to later score in the big five-run eighth inning. Freshman Brandon Chapman doubled to left to drive in two in that same inning. UMES threw three different pitchers in the one inning – and nine total in the game.

On the pitching end for GW, they started with knowledge of a long day from the pen. Sophomore Jordan Sheinkop continued to come back from an offseason injury. He started the game, going two innings with 26 pitches, giving up three hits.

“It makes it a whole lot more difficult. To have a guy go out there and know he’s going to get the start. He’s going to compete for six or seven innings, that’s a much easier task,” Ritchie said.

Freshman Kevin Hodgson did not have his best stuff and was unable to get out of the third inning. He was credited with the one run the Colonials’ pitching staff allowed on the day. Freshman Brady Renner would pick up the win, his second on the season, going 2.1 innings and allowing one hit.

Freshman Tyler Swiggart threw the longest out of the staff, going three innings and throwing 32 pitches.

“I wanted [Hodgson] to go two innings,” Ritchie said. “Swiggart did a really nice job of making up that difference of not being able to throw Hodgson two innings. He made his best pitches and had a really low pitch count.”

With no pitcher throwing over 40 pitches, most of the bullpen will remain available heading into a weekend conference series at home against Fordham. The first game starts Friday at 3 p.m., with junior Bobby LeWarne as the probable starter looking to extend his A-10 lead in wins to seven.

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This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Josh Solomon.

The weekend pitching rotation, at least for now, is finding a rhythm: four men for three days – plus a stifling backend in the bullpen.

The Colonials swept the series from Dayton at home to move into sole possession of first place in the Atlantic 10.

“It’s always nice. It’s still a long way to go,” head coach Gregg Ritchie said. “I told the guys the other day, it is simply one game and one game only. The most important game is today’s game. You earned nothing until you win today’s game and that’s it.”

The usual game one and game two starters, junior Bobby LeWarne and freshman Robbie Metz, threw on Friday and Saturday to lock up the series. Sunday called for the piggyback pen: a couple innings to start from junior Shane Kemp and then a commanding pick me up from sophomore Jacob Williams.

For his fourth start in a row, Kemp did not make it out of the third inning or over 45 pitches. Instead he exited at the first sign of trouble – missing the strikezone resulting in runners standing at second and third with one out.

“He makes us better if he’s a starter,” Ritchie said. “Is it a seal or a lock? No, it’s something we’re trying to figure out with him. Fortunately we have a lot of guys that can fit that bill. It’s something we need to seriously evaluate going into next week.”

Williams came in and commanded. He gave up a sacrifice fly to allow Dayton to score their second and final run of the game.

“It’s a little difficult, but it’s a spot I like coming into,” Williams said. “It’s high pressure. It’s a little more about you got to hit your spot and not let them get a hit.”

He worked off his fastball and said it helped seeing LeWarne force the Flyers hitters to him with his fastball. He would give up one hit and retire 14 in a row in six innings of relief.

GW would need their bullpen to hold them in the tight 3-2 win. Sophomore Eddie Muhl came in to save the game – again. He closed out all three games in the series, en route to setting the GW single season save record with his 13th save.

“It’s not something that you think can happen until it does,” Muhl said. “It doesn’t really feel real. It’s been a great season so far and I’m just trying to keep it going.”

He adds to his family’s legacy at GW. His aunt, Kas Ellen ’88 is in the GW Athletic Hall of Fame, as a former basketball player.

The Colonials’ offense seemed like it was rolling for the first two innings where they scored all three of their runs.

In the first, a balk followed by a big two-out double by sophomore Andrew Selby scored two for GW.

Senior Ryan Xepoleas led off the second inning with a bang, blasting a 3-2 pitch over the high wall in right. Later in the game he just missed a home run going over the scoreboard in right by inches. Instead, he settled for a double.

“He came in with a little bit of a different look to his face today,” Ritchie said. “Haven’t seen that look in his eyes in a very long time, not even in warm ups, not even in BP. He had a look that was just stare you down type of look. He hasn’t had that look. It’s been a hollow look for a while. So it’s really nice to see that come out of him.”

Weekend Recap:

Picking up momentum this week after defeating their first ranked opponent since 2008 – No. 16 Maryland, 12-1 at College Park – GW won its home conference season against Dayton to improve to 9-2 in the A-10, good for second in the league.

Friday: 3-2 GW
Junior Bobby LeWarne did not give up a run until the eighth inning, by that point the Colonials had a lead, good enough for the win.

GW scored three runs in the sixth, started by a full-count leadoff double to left center by sophomore Andrew Selby. Dayton then misplayed a bunt by sophomore Kevin Mahala, resulting in runners on the corners after the Flyer’s errantly threw to third. Freshman Matt Cosentino would double in Selby for the first run of the ballgame. Sophomore Eli Kashi executed a successful suicide squeeze to score the second. Sophomore Joey Bartosic would single in the third and final run of the inning.

LeWarne would exit in the eighth, after allowing two doubles and one run. He picked up his team-high sixth win of the season, giving up two runs in 7.1 innings on 89 pitches, allowing five hits, striking out four and walking none.

Sophomore Eddie Muhl picked up the save, coming in the eighth to get the final out.

Saturday: 4-1 GW
Bartosic led the team to the series clinching win, going 2-4 with three RBI including a two out, go-ahead, two-RBI single to right center in the fifth.

The Colonials would tack runs in the seventh and eighth, driven in by a Bartosic double and a Cosentino triple into the corner, respectively.

“They took very quality at bats all day,” Ritchie said after the game. “It may not have been a barn-burner on the hitting side but all of a sudden we pounded out 12 hits.”

Metz picked up the win, in a recovery week for the freshman who left his last start a week prior with a dead arm. He dazzled in six innings on Saturday, giving up one run on six hits and striking out four in 87 pitches.

Sidearming junior Luke Olson came in and threw two shutout innings to bridge the way to Muhl who picked up the save.

- Peter Hoegler contributed reporting.

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Senior Ryan Xepoleas makes his way toward first base in a game earlier this season. File Photo by Andrew Goodman | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Senior Ryan Xepoleas makes his way toward first base in a game earlier this season. File Photo by Andrew Goodman | Hatchet Staff Photographer

This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Josh Solomon.

University of Maryland Baltimore County is not ranked nationally. University of Maryland, College Park is ranked No. 16 in the country. GW played both of them, on back-to-back days, this week. Don’t try to guess which team GW beat.

Tuesday, the Colonials dropped their road game at UMBC 10-5 after the seventh inning unraveled on them.

Wednesday, GW came back and defeated the Terrapins 12-1 in an offensive showcase, scoring in five separate innings and tallying four runs in an inning two times. It was the Colonials’ first win over a ranked opponent since 2008.

It’s been a trend for the Colonials to drop one game to a lesser opponent and then play well against a seemingly stronger team in the next, as they did earlier in the season against UMES and Georgetown. They also played well in California during spring break against top-tier talent.

Defeating a ranked opponent, particularly one that is local, can be gratifying for a coach trying to build a program.

“You need some kind of validation like that,” head coach Gregg Ritchie said. “To play with those guys and when you compete, you realize you can and you believe it, it’s a big thing. You know you’re going in the right direction.”

The Colonials had to bounce back, just like their freshman reliever Tyler Swiggart after a potentially historic outing Tuesday evening.

Swiggart had a 1-2-3 first inning of work in the sixth. Then came the seventh. On his first pitch, he hit the batter. The next ball out of his hand, he hit batsman number two. Before a pitcher could even get warm, Swiggart hit the third batter of the inning on the fourth pitch.

UMBC went onto score six runs in the inning, with freshman Kevin Hodgson coming out of the bullpen unable to stop the bleeding. Before that point, the score was knotted at four in a back-and-forth contest.

They were unable to scratch a hit in the final two innings of the game.

“When we got back on the bus that night, when we lost that game in that fashion, the one thing I said to those couple pitchers, especially Swigg, was ‘You got to wash it, flush it, it’s done. Wipe it off, wipe it clean,’” Ritchie said. “And I told Swig, ‘You be ready. We’re going to put you right back up on the horse and you’re going to get it done.’”

Junior Jacob Williams got the start against Maryland allowing one run on three hits in a short stint. Heading into the third inning, he carried a 5-1 lead, but Ritchie took him out after recording one out with a rising pitch count – hoping to preserve his arm for a potential start or long role on Sunday in conference play.

Instead, Ritchie brought in Swiggart, who recorded the final two outs of the inning via the strikeout.

“They are showing an ability to bounce back in a lot of resiliency after a loss that hurts you kind of mentally or emotionally, and they’re wiping that off and they’re coming back and winning the game after that,” Ritchie said.

Seven pitchers combined to hold Maryland to one run on eight hits. Hodgson came in after his shaky inning against UMBC, too, and struck out two in his one inning.

The bullpen of senior Craig LeJeune and sophomore Eddie Muhl locked down the end of the game. Craig pitched the final two outs of the eighth and Muhl pitched the ninth, striking out the side.

Meanwhile, the offense was carried by freshman Brandon Chapman, who batted cleanup and went 3-4 with two RBI, two runs and one walk. Sophomore Kevin Mahala also drove in two runs, and sophomore Joey Bartosic scored three runs, despite not recording a hit.

When they headed back to the bus after their season’s marquee victory, there was little ado about the win.

“You need to soak this one in and take some really good feelings about it and take some pride in it. Enjoy it and bask in it for split second,” Ritchie said. “The bus was calm. It wasn’t loud and like, ‘Oh my God, we did something great.’ No, it wasn’t that way. It was extremely calm. As a matter of fact we just won a game, we’re going home and we have another game on Friday.”

The Colonials will look to carry their momentum against Dayton at home this weekend. At 18-10, GW is two wins off from matching last season’s win total.

Junior Bobby LeWarne is the probable starter Friday. Freshman Robbie Metz – who tripped over a bag in Tuesday’s game and sat Wednesday’s game for rest – is expected to go Saturday. Sunday is still to be determined, between the likely candidates of juniors Shane Kemp or Jacob Williams.

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The Colonials celebrate a victory earlier in the season. File Photo by Zach Montellaro | Hatchet Staff Photographer

The Colonials celebrate a victory earlier in the season. File Photo by Zach Montellaro | Hatchet Staff Photographer

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Peter Hoegler.

Despite the inclement weather conditions, baseball extended its mini win-streak to four games with a 6-4 victory over University of Maryland Baltimore County on Tuesday.

It took a committee of pitchers to complete the homestand with a win after freshman starter Brady Renner was taken out of the game in the second inning due to control issues. The bullpen provided the consistency head coach Gregg Ritchie was looking for—not allowing another earned run for the rest of the outing.

“Midweek games can give you some momentum if you play consistent baseball,” Ritchie said. “This win was good for our development, especially for our pitchers like [Kevin] Hodgson, [Luke] Olsen and Renner, who has not played in awhile.”

Coming off of a three game sweep of St. Bonaventure over the weekend, the Colonials (14-8) kept their bats alive against UMBC. Sophomore first baseman Bobby Campbell went 3-4 and added an RBI while shortstop Kevin Mahala, who has been adding key power at the bottom of the lineup, stayed hot with a pair of hits and an RBI sac fly.

“Anytime you can get some production from the bottom it bodes well for efficient offense. Our goal is to run up the pitch count and get timely hits,” Ritchie said.

UMBC, which entered the contest on the heels of a six-game win streak, took a 1-0 lead in the top of the second off of Renner. Two walks later, Ritchie had seen enough from his starter and handed the ball off to fellow first-year Kevin Hodgson, who picked up his first win of the season after 3.2 innings of relief.

In the fourth, the Colonials scored three runs with key hits coming from Mahala, freshman Matt Cosentino, and Campbell. With rain coming down in the sixth, UMBC put up three more to cut the GW lead to one, but an insurance run scored by freshman second baseman Robbie Metz in the bottom of the inning put the game away for good.

Junior Luke Olsen added 2.1 innings of scoreless relief and sophomore Eddie Muhl came up with his eighth save of the season, good for the most the Atlantic 10.

“Moving forward, we are just looking for consistent play with an energy level as if you are playing the top team in the nation,” Ritchie said.

GW looks to keep up its consistency against Mount St. Mary’s on Wednesday in another non-conference game before traveling to Massachusetts on Friday to resume league play.

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The Colonials celebrate after their 3-0 victory against Georgetown earlier this season. Dan Rich | Hatchet Photographer

The Colonials celebrate after their 3-0 victory against Georgetown earlier this season. Dan Rich | Hatchet Photographer

This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Josh Solomon.

If the Colonials had gone out to California for a good round of horseshoes, you could say they dominated all week.

The GW baseball team, of course, was not playing horseshoes but baseball in their spring break trip out to California, and dropped three of four games. But they were close, in all but one game – an out here and a timely hit there from coming away with a few wins against what is likely the stiffest competition they will face all year.

“Almost” doesn’t translate to the win/loss column, but it was a week of relative success in the team’s first trip to California since 2000: freshman Robbie Metz once again proved himself as one of the most valuable players on the team, on the mound and at the plate, junior college transfer, Shane Kemp had a “coming out” game in his start and the bats came alive against live, hardball pitching.

After losing their pitchers duel of a game in the eighth inning against Long Beach State Wednesday, the Colonials took on Cal State Northridge in a three game series. GW would go onto drop 2-of-3, winning the middle game 3-2 with Kemp on the mound.

“I think every guy would say they would rather have showed up a little more in bigger situations and played more consistently, but the future of this program is really a bigger picture than just a one game here or one series there,” Ritchie said. “It’s what you gain out of those series. It’s what you take home with it. And it’s how you make an adjustment.”

The one game in the weekend series where they did show up was Saturday’s 3-2 win against CSUN.

Kemp pitched six innings of two-run ball, striking out five and walking two. Ritchie explained it as his big game, working Kemp into the conversation of the three top starters on the team.

The 6-foot-3 righty from Iowa relied on his fastball, giving up his two runs solely in the fifth, when the Matadors scored courtesy of a double, intentional walk and triple. At that point, GW had mustered one hit.

When the Colonials batted in the sixth inning, they scored all three of their runs, which would be good enough for the win. They scratched four singles by four sophomores, including the go-ahead hit by Colin Gibbons-Fly, who had two RBI, one run and two walks in his work as DH this weekend.

The combination of sophomore Eddie Muhl and redshirt senior Craig LeJeune again closed out the game, shutting down the final three innings without letting a runner get on base.

The first game in the series fell apart quickly. Heading into the bottom of the sixth, GW was tied at three runs apiece, having just put up a two spot in the top of the inning.

Junior Bobby LeWarne recorded his first loss of the season, after the sixth inning got away from him and the bullpen. Ritchie said LeWarne had a tough time controlling his pitches, but worked his way to the sixth. He started the inning with a fly out, followed by a single, walk and another walk. The bullpen came in and couldn’t shut it down. By the inning’s end, CSUN scored six runs on four hits, four walks, one stolen base, one wild pitch and one passed ball against four pitchers.

“We got to eliminate the bleeding,” Ritchie said.

After bouncing back for Saturday’s win, the Colonials had a chance to win the series before heading back on a plane to D.C.

GW started the game with two runs in the first inning. Sophomore Joey Bartosic and Metz continued their strong starts to the season in the top two spots in the lineup: Bartosic went 2-5 on the day with two RBI and one run, while Metz went 3-5 with one RBI and two runs.

But as the opposing batters took to the plate, just hours before basketball fans across the country would learn their team’s fates to the Big Dance, the baseball team was mired in some march madness of it’s own.

Walk. Balk. Walk. Walk. A new pitcher, freshman Brady Renner in his first collegiate start, bounced. Sophomore Jacob Williams came in and gave up a walk, scoring a runner. Another run scored on an error by sophomore shortstop Kevin Mahala. Then an RBI single. Next, a sacrifice fly for another RBI. Pop up, out. Another walk. Another run scores via another hit batsman. Finally, a fly out. The inning was over, but the damage was done.

“That’s a tough thing when you go up 2-0 and then you give up three straight walks and the bases are loaded with nobody out,” Ritchie said. “They didn’t even touch the ball. They didn’t even swing the bat.”

GW would rally back, but the bullpen couldn’t hold it to those first five runs, either. The Colonials would finish the game having walked nine batters.

“Regardless of who we’re playing, the strike zone is the strike zone. Regardless of who the hitter is, throwing a strike is throwing a strike,” Ritchie said.

The self-inflicted wounds stung more harshly given the tenor of the competition, but GW’s ability to stay competitive did not go unnoticed. Though the road trip came to an end with three more losses in the Colonials’ record, which sits at 8-5, they almost came away with a win against NCAA Regional team Long Beach State earlier in the week.

“Bottom line is we did something GW hasn’t done in quite a few years, is come out here and play teams of this nature,” Ritchie said. “And we were very competitive.”

Before Atlantic 10 play starts Friday at Saint Joseph’s, the Colonials will have one final tune-up, playing Mount Saint Mary’s on Wednesday at 3 p.m., at home at Tucker Field.

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Freshman Robbie Metz throws a pitch during a win against Georgetown earlier this season. Metz threw seven shutout innings, with four hits and eight strikeouts in the no decision but the Colonials dropped a game to Long Beach State 6-0. Dan Rich | Hatchet Photographer

Freshman Robbie Metz throws a pitch during a win against Georgetown earlier this season. Metz threw seven shutout innings, with four hits and eight strikeouts in the no decision, but the Colonials dropped a game to Long Beach State 6-0. File Photo by Dan Rich | Hatchet Photographer

This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Josh Solomon.

It was scoreless into the eighth inning.

The fans sitting under the lights in Northridge, Calif. had yet to see a run scored. It was an old-fashioned pitchers duel between the ace of the staff: a redshirt senior for the powerhouse and a freshman fresh off his third conference Rookie of the Week honors in the young season.

One of the youngest teams in the nation, the Colonials took the trip out to California to gauge if their early success was real.

At 7-3, they were off to their hottest start in decades – since 1983, when head coach Gregg Ritchie was a freshman. They faced a Long Beach State program that finished the season in the NCAA Regionals last year.

Then one run scored in a two-out rally for the Dirtbags. Then an error led to a couple more. And then a few more.

GW allowed one earned run to Long Beach State but fell to the Dirtbags 6-0.

By the end of Wednesday night, they would drop their fourth game of the season before heading to Cal State Northridge for a three-game series. But the Colonials showed some lukewarm signs of maturity.

“If you just looked at the box score, it would tell you, OK we got handily beat. And it was so far from the truth,” head coach Gregg Ritchie said. “We pushed a regional team that has more major leaguers in the big leagues right now than any other program in the nation, and they had to put everything up against us, which says a lot about the development of a program.”

All six runs were scored in the eighth, when sophomore Eddie Muhl came in to relieve Robbie Metz. The rookie threw seven shutout innings, with four hits and eight strikeouts in the no decision.

In the second inning, Metz picked up his shortstop after sophomore Kevin Mahala committed a throwing error. He fielded the ball off the mound and started a double play to end the early threat. After a wild pitch in the third, Metz struck out the next batter with a runner 90 feet from home.

“This is what makes Robbie special in my mind,” Ritchie said. “The maturity level of his own self-evaluation. At one point in the game he said, ‘I just don’t have command of my fastball very good today.’”

Metz retired the last 11 batters he faced. He found his command through the game, particularly with his curveball, burying it and going back to back with it to fool the Dirtbags hitters.

When Muhl came in, he had no such luck, though he retired the first two batters to start the eighth.

A single through the left side and a walk to the next batter opened the floodgates. A couple batters later, with one run in already, sophomore Bobby Campbell – playing his first game back at third base this season after starting there for most of last season – committed a throwing error. Two runs scored. A couple more singles and a total of six runs scored in the inning, all with two outs.

“You can’t just go, ‘Hey, you played a good game,’ because we just made some mistakes,” Ritchie said. “You also have to tell them, ‘Hey, that’s unacceptable what you did because it was a lack of preparation or a lack of mental skill. Not physical skills, mental skill.’”

GW wasn’t without scoring opportunities. In the third, a lead-off single was wasted after a double play line out on the next play. In the sixth, a lead-off walk was squandered after a pick-off play by the catcher threw out the runner at second.

To close the game, the Colonials left the bases loaded in the ninth in a makeshift rally: infield error, hit by pitch, hit by pitch. The Colonials couldn’t scratch a run, with a strikeout and a game-ending double play.

“We just need to learn how to play with a championship-level heartbeat at that point of the game, which we sped up a little bit,” Ritchie said. “And that’s experience, that’s demanding it being done as well and expecting more of yourself.”

“Over the couple years I’ve been here, we would not have competed like that against a team of this quality. No chance,” Ritchie added. “We would not have competed that well. We’re definitely moving forward.”

GW will pick up play in a three-game series starting Friday at 2 p.m against Cal State Northridge. Sophomore Bobby Campbell is the probable starter.

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