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Mike Lonergan looked like mayor of The Tuck for the day.

Everywhere he turned, the full crowd for Saturday’s doubleheader against VCU greeted him. He was shaking hands with the Tucker Field faithful and baseball players’ family members – all there to see if the Colonials could sweep the two games and potentially move into first place in the conference.

Sitting quietly in the stands were also men’s basketball junior guard Matt Hart and National Invitation Tournament MVP Tyler Cavanaugh.

It was somewhat an uncomfortable reminder though, of how important a conference game can be, particularly against a league-leading team like VCU. The basketball Rams are March Madness regulars and the baseball Rams made it to the NCAA Super Regional last year.

Though of course the men’s basketball team finished its season on such a high-note, it was games like these where if the game had had a more positive outcome, the Colonials might have been dancing in the NCAA Tournament instead.

And with a season goal for the baseball team of winning the Atlantic 10 Championship, and in turn the College World Series, GW could have benefited from a series win.

If the Colonials lost the series to VCU, it wouldn’t be the end of their hopes to win the A-10 Championship – but it would toughen their chances of winning the regular season and put them in a tight spot in the final three series to end the season, jockeying for a good seed in the conference tournament later in May.

“It’s tough because a team like VCU, they make a Super Regional and you really want to beat them,” closer, junior Eddie Muhl said. “Most of the time we try not to be result oriented. We battled our hearts out and we left it all out on the field and I’m really happy with how we played.”

And so GW played the series like each game was the final game of the season.

After Friday’s 3-0 loss, in a game in which they were one out away from being no-hit, head coach Gregg Ritchie was still planning to win the game until the final out.

“Make no doubt about it, the single game we won is huge. It’s utterly huge,” Ritchie said of the win and of the doubleheader. “The big things these guys need to know is what they did is special. It’s a special game they played, to be a part of something like that. Let it propel you forward with confidence into next week and the next series.”

And that’s why Saturday you saw something you probably have and may never see again (among an array of baseball novelties) – the team’s lockdown closer coming in the game for 6.1 innings, throwing 94 pitches from the seventh to the 13th and final inning. Convention went by the wayside; winning went to the forefront.

Muhl went back out every inning. Occasionally a pitcher would be up in the bullpen to warm up. At other times, it seemed sophomore Robbie Metz would come in from second to pitch, since there is no midweek game this coming week for him to start.

“I was going to go until win or lose,” Muhl said. “I just tried to give us a chance to battle and I was going until they took the ball out of my hand.”

Nevertheless, Ritchie went for the win and Muhl felt fine. He would finally give up the go-ahead run in the top of the 13th on a bases loaded infield single, in which the batter just beat a throw from across the diamond by junior Kevin Mahala.

Back in the first game of the doubleheader – a day in which the first pitch was thrown at noon and the final pitch was thrown at 8:55 p.m. – Ritchie used 16 different position players in an effort to find the right combination, whether it was the perfect person to bunt, run, or blast, he did everything he could to find the perfect fit. In that game, he did. GW took the 10-inning contest 4–3.

In the second game, both teams had missed opportunities to win the game throughout extra innings, as so often is the case, but this one went the way of VCU, whose corner outfielders made diving catch after diving catch to help secure the eventual win.

But Ritchie said he recognizes the importance of every game to help his team achieve their team goals, with the rigors of the regular season baseball schedule.

“You need to reflect in the right way,” Ritchie said. “It’s a matter of clarity in those situations. And there are sometimes when they don’t trust the plan. We did so many things, it’s really hard to say, what about this, what about, c’mon, it’s 13 innings of just getting after it, back and forth, back and forth. That’s just the game. That’s the way it goes, you can’t be perfect.”

For now, it’s nine A-10 games until the conference tournament against Fordham (9-6), Richmond (9-9) and Saint Louis (10-5).

GW (9-6) is currently tied with Fordham and Saint Joseph’s and sits one game back of league leaders VCU (12-6), Rhode Island (10-5) and Saint Louis. First place might not be GW’s right now, but it certainly is still attainable.

“Could’ve done it today, just right there, that game,” Ritchie said. “So it’s going to be nip and tuck the rest of the way with six or seven teams.”

And a future meeting with VCU could be in store. If that happens, how does Ritchie feel?

“I feel we’re better and that’s the truth,” he said.

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This post was written by Hatchet reporter Pete Hoegler.

Saturday provided a little bit of everything one could want in the sport of baseball: a walk-off, extra innings, two suicide squeezes, GW’s closer pitching five innings and a manager getting ejected.

But after 23 total innings, GW split its doubleheader against first-place VCU, dropping the series two games to one despite a thrilling final day of play.

Game 1

Down 3–2 with two outs and two on in the bottom of the tenth, junior Kevin Mahala had a full count against one of the best closers in the country in VCU junior Sam Donko.

“With two strikes you just got to battle,” said Mahala. “You can’t get beat.”

And he didn’t. Mahala finally got hold of an inside fastball and drove it up the middle. VCU’s shortstop dove, kept it from getting into the outfield, spun, and gunned it over to first–not realizing sophomore Mark Osis was coming around from second base for the game-winning run.

The 4–3 victory kept GW (20-25, 9-6 A-10) from slipping in the Atlantic 10 standings, and with only three series’ left, the Colonials will be looking to stay within at least the top-four to avoid a play-in game at the A-10 Tournament in late May.

“Both sides came to play today,” head coach Gregg Ritchie, said after the game. “We came up big in the first game, and they did in the second. A lot of our guys stepped up.”

Before Mahala’s late-game heroics, junior starter Shane Sweeney had put GW in a 2–0 hole early after giving up a home run in the top of the third.

Ritchie knew his club had to have this one, so after seeing Sweeney get hit hard early, he went to his senior, Jacob Williams, who went the rest of the way giving up only one runs on five hits.

The Colonials got on the board in the bottom of the seventh after two doubles from Mahala and sophomore Brandon Chapman. But after leaving Chapman in scoring position in the seventh, and getting nothing together in the eighth, GW put everything on the line in the ninth against the nation’s leader in saves.

With one out, junior Cody Bryant knotted the score at two with a base-knock to right, scoring junior Larry McCabe, who pinch-ran for slugger Bobby Campbell. Sophomore Robbie Metz grounded out on a fielder’s choice with the bases loaded to end the inning.

In the top of the 10th, senior Eddie Muhl could not hold the tie–giving up a single up the middle to put VCU (30-15, 12-6 A-10) up 3–2 before the Colonials took the decision in walk-off fashion.

Game 2

Despite riding high off energy from game one’s finish, GW was not able to overcome another comeback win against VCU, falling in 14 innings, 8–7.

Once again Ritchie did not get much from his starter, sophomore Brady Renner, who went two and two-thirds innings, giving up four earned runs on five hits. After Ritchie went to his bullpen, VCU continued to come up with solid contact and added two more runs in the fourth to stretch the lead to 6–0.

GW responded with two runs in the bottom half of the frame after an RBI single by Campbell and an RBI groundout by junior Cody Bryant.

In the fifth, junior Andrew Selby led things off with a double roped down the right field line. Although Bartosic missed the suicide squeeze after Selby moved over, he was able to convert on an RBI single through the hole later in the bat. Mark Osis connected on an RBI single with two outs to cut the VCU lead to 6–4 later in the inning.

GW completed the comeback in the seventh inning, tying the score at seven. After a leadoff double by Metz, a single by Bartosic, and a nine-pitch walk from Campbell, Mahala laced a two-RBI double down the left field line.

Into extra innings, Ritchie elected to go with closer Eddie Muhl, who pitched 5.1 innings of scoreless baseball. Though he ran into a jam in the twelfth, Muhl pitched his way out of it, leaving runners at first and third.

When asked why he let his closer go like that, Ritchie said, “We just kept sending him out there, and he kept doing his thing.”

“This was the most I’ve pitched since high school and I can honestly say that my arm feels great,” Muhl said.

GW had an opportunity to win the game in the tenth inning with runners in scoring position, but Metz’s line drive was caught by a diving VCU right-fielder to close the frame.

“Our guys grew a lot this game,” said Ritchie. “We knew it was going to be tough to win both, but we’re confident we’re the better side, that’s the truth. I’m proud of this group.”

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Robby Metz (left) and Joey Bartosic (right) fist bump teammates prior to a game last weekend. On Friday, the Colonials lost their series opener 3–0 to first-place VCU. Zach Montellaro | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Robby Metz (left) and Joey Bartosic (right) fist bump teammates prior to a game last weekend. On Friday, Bartosic ended a no-hitter in the ninth inning, but the Colonials lost their series opener 3–0 to first-place VCU. Zach Montellaro | Hatchet Staff Photographer

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

Senior, ace of the staff, Bobby LeWarne pitched nine innings in GW’s series opener against VCU.

A chance to take over first place in the conference was at stake.

LeWarne threw up zeros from the third inning on. But that didn’t matter when the other side was throwing a no-hitter.

The Rams’ freshman Michael Dailey held the Colonials hitless into the ninth. GW brought up two pinch hitters to start the inning. A sinking line drive was caught on a head-first diving catch by the left fielder. A ground ball out took care of the second.

GW’s speedy leadoff hitter, junior Joey Bartosic then grounded a ball to short. He beat the throw, with no complaints from the VCU bench. And with that, Dailey exited the game.

But GW was down three after LeWarne gave up one run in the first and two in the second.

So the Rams sent in their closer, who leads the country in saves, to record the final out. He got sophomore Robbie Metz to pop up to second base to end the game, misexecuting the gameplay. Sophomore Mark Osis loomed on deck.

“We were absolutely trying to win it,” head coach Gregg Ritchie said. “You’re looking for Osis to come in against that guy, who’s going to [throw a breaking ball], right back into the barrel, leave the yard and all of a sudden we have a tied game. I was thinking that the whole way.”

VCU (11-5) won 3-0, but there was no, no-hitter Friday afternoon under the lights on a cool, overcast day at The Tuck.

There was also no win by GW (8-5), which will make a series win over the Rams difficult. The two teams will square off in a doubleheader Saturday, starting at noon, because of the expected inclement weather Sunday.

“I have a lot of confidence in our team,” LeWarne said.”But sometimes the game just doesn’t go your way.”

Bobby “The Bull” ran into an issue in the first, eventually loading the bases with one out. He forced a fly out to right. The strong relay throw in hit the cutoff man and was directed to third base, where the Colonials picked up the third out of the inning, but not before VCU scored one run.

The inning was helped by a hit by pitch call. After LeWarne hit the batter, Ritchie went out to discuss the call. The batter may have been over the plate, and not within the confines of the box, of which the details of the official rule have changed in the past few years.

“It’s a hard rule for everybody,” Ritchie said. “It’s not the umpire’s fault, it’s not the coach’s fault. It’s a tough rule that I think we need to continue to look at.”

Regardless a run scored and then LeWarne gave up another two in the second, in part because of an error on a pickoff play to second. The two runs were brought in on a double off the left center field wall, which today’s left fielder, junior Eric Ramsey bobbled for a moment eliminating a chance for a relay throw to get the second out. Sophomore Mark Osis, still plagued by a hamstring injury, was at designated hitter instead of in left again.

“I just wanted to get on the mound and keep throwing zeros,” LeWarne said. “Give us a chance to win.”

GW did not get lucky during the game though. Often a hit or two will sneak through the infield or bloop in front of an outfielder, particularly when the team has been playing well.

As the innings rolled on, it was clear that the couple hard hit balls junior Bobby Campbell hit and the ball junior Kevin Mahala hit to the warning track in center were not going to land for hits today. A bunt attempt by junior Andrew Selby went foul. A hit and run by junior Eli Kashi failed.

“He’s a consummate strike thrower,” Ritchie said. “You’re going to get pitches to hit. It’s whether hit stuff is working and whether you’re on the ball.”

Ritchie cited too many fly ball outs as an issue for them today. The approach at the plate wasn’t what he had wanted, knowing his team needed to put the ball on the ground to use their speed to their advantage.

Mahala weakly hit the first pitch of his at bat to lead off the eighth inning, after making a specular sliding, spinning and twirling throw from the hole at short to end the top half of the inning. It seemed to be a chance to shift momentum, with a lively bench ready to react to anything

“To take a not-your-swing type swing on the first pitch with nobody on, leading off is just a wasted opportunity,” Ritchie said.

And if it was wasn’t for Bartosic’s hustle two-out, ninth inning single the game would have entered the conference record books.

Tomorrow, GW will gear up to play two. The bullpen is fresh, without a midweek game this week because of a rainout against James Madison, and LeWarne’s complete game.

Who will start game one though, junior Shane Sweeney, the usual Saturday starter, or sophomore Brady Renner, the typical Sunday starter still being stretched out from his shoulder strain?

“Don’t know,” Ritchie said.

When will Ritchie know?

“I’ll know when he gets in the bullpen.”

Who?

“Whoever it is.”

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Friday, April 29, 2016 1:55 p.m.

Preview: Baseball vs. VCU

Hatchet File Photo by Andrew Goodman | Senior Staff Photographer

Hatchet File Photo by Andrew Goodman | Senior Staff Photographer

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

What: Baseball (8–4 A-10) vs. VCU (10-5 A-10), Conference Series

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

When: Friday, April 29 at 3 p.m.; Saturday, at 1 p.m.; Sunday, at 12 p.m.

It’s first place versus second place.

Well, one of five teams in second place. All five of those Atlantic 10 teams also have fewer losses than the first-place Rams – who have more wins than any other team in the league.

It’s VCU versus GW this weekend: a matchup at home that the Colonials certainly have had circled on their calendars all season. It’s their final home series before Commencement weekend, and they’re up against the top team in the A-10.

GW is fresh off a series win at Dayton, which has moved them into a five-way tie for second place. The home series against the Rams is vital, not only for the Colonials’ record and chance to make a move to the top of the conference, but also as a potential mental win.

Case for the Colonials:

If GW has been loud on the bench during the last few series, this week should be even louder at the Tuck.

If the Colonials want to take the first-place spot, starting pitching is vital.

Senior Bobby LeWarne has been cruising during A-10 play (tied for the lead in A-10 wins, four), but will face a tough VCU lineup. Junior Shane Sweeney has pitched well but has was a bit of a tough-luck loser last week. Sophomore Brady Renner, still rehabbing his injury, should continue to get closer to throwing a normal game – while senior Jacob Williams continues to excite out of the bullpen.

GW has averaged a little less than half a run per game in conference play than VCU this season: GW’s 4.83 runs per game to the Rams’ 4.4. Since getting their big guns healthy – in sophomore Mark Osis (batting a team-high .379) and junior Kevin Mahala (driven in a team-high 37 RBIs) – the Colonials have averaged 5.83 runs per game. With that run production, GW should be able to win.

Case for the Rams:

Last year VCU won the A-10 Championship. They went on to the College World Series, winning their way to the NCAA Super Regionals. It was an impressive run, and this year they have rebounded off of last year’s success.

The Rams boast a 27-14 record, on top of their conference leading 10-5 record. They defeated Georgia Tech, Virginia and William & Mary this season. VCU opened A-10 play with a sweep of St. Bonaventure, followed by a series win over Dayton, before suffering their first A-10 series loss to Rhode Island.

The Rams rebounded from that road loss with a road sweep of La Salle.

Last weekend VCU lost two of three to their crosstown rival, Richmond. Following the Rams’ previous series loss, they rebounded a series sweep on the road. The team has shown its resiliency all season long.

VCU has the second-best ERA in conference, at 2.51 – with GW just behind in third at 3.00. And the team’s pitchers average a league-high 7.84 strikeouts per nine innings. Junior left hander, Brooks Vial leads the league in the strikeouts per game at 10.69.

The only closer to have more saves in the A-10 than GW’s junior Eddie Muhl (5) is VCU’s junior Sam Donko (6).

Junior Matt Davis leads the team and is second in the conference with his .429 batting average.

The bottom line:

Expectations of a sweep this weekend would be pretty high for GW. Expectations of a series win, with a preseason expectation of an A-10 Championship, should not be surprising.

With the excitement of playing at home and with a chance to claim first place, the Colonials could show the conference that they are the cream of the crop. A healthy GW team should be able to win against any other team in the A-10, and this weekend could be a testament to that, with a now more potent offense and stable starting staff.

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Wednesday, April 20, 2016 11:15 p.m.

Preview: Baseball at Dayton

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

Updated: April 21, 2016 at 12:25 a.m.

What: Baseball (6–4 A-10) vs. Dayton (4-8 A-10), Conference Series

Where: Woerner Field, Dayton, Ohio

When: Friday, April 22 at 3 p.m.; Saturday, at 1 p.m.; Sunday, at 12 p.m.

The tides have turned for the Colonials.

Last weekend, GW swept George Mason at home, showing off their recently healed lineup, a fairly dominant bullpen and the Pirates of the Caribbean soundtrack.

GW picked up a team anthem while on its bus ride back from Davidson the previous weekend. Against GMU, the Colonials talked up a storm on the bench, sounding at times more like a Little League team than a Division I college team. But that’s a good thing for them, because for the first time all season, it seems like they are consistently having fun.

“The college season is a little dissimilar to the pro, where in the pro it’s just every single solitary day,” head coach Gregg Ritchie said, after Sunday’s sweep over the Patriots. “We got a weekend. We can get you fired up for a weekend.”

The team’s starting shortstop, junior Kevin Mahala, is back on the field after working through a hip flexor injury (and homering in Tuesday’s 7-2 win against Towson) and the team’s top hitter this season, sophomore Mark Osis, is back in left field after recovering from a pulled hamstring.

“They’re two guys that the team has looked to for probably the better part of 25 games,” Ritchie said. “To be guys that lead the team a little bit by their actions and by their performance. It was huge to have them back. It had an effect.”

Finally looking like the team they set out to be, the Colonials head to Dayton with another chance to win an A-10 series and maybe even sweep the Flyers.

Case for the Colonials:

Set aside the additions of two of GW’s top hitters, Mahala and Osis – the Colonials still have had one of the best hitters in A-10 play in their lineup all season.

Fresh off of an A-10 Player of the Week award, junior Bobby Campbell is red-hot. He leads the conference in on-base percentage (.524) and ranks fourth in batting average (.455). Also, Campbell is tied for third in the conference in RBIs (10). The Colonials first baseman showed his consistency after another two-RBI day Tuesday against Towson.

GW’s deep lineup bodes well against a Dayton pitching staff whose team earned run average in conference games is 4.08.

The Colonials bullpen is in a good spot after using only seven pitchers last weekend. Against Towson earlier this week, they used another two – sophomore Robbie Metz going an impressive 7.0 innings – yielding eight hits and one run, and sophomore Tyler Swiggart finishing it out.

The Colonials dropped their Wednesday night game 2-1 at Georgetown, but the bullpen proved to be solid. Sophomore Chance Malek, junior Jordan Sheinkop and junior Eddie Muhl combined for five innings of hitless baseball in relief.

GW, now winners of five of their last six, bring a hot lineup and strong bullpen into Ohio.

Case for the Flyers:

Dayton needs to not commit errors if the Flyers want to come out on top.

The team ranks dead last in fielding defense in the conference with 21 errors. GW is tied for first in committed errors with six in A-10 play.

During conference play, Dayton has allowed 49 earned runs and 72 total runs. The team’s offense has scored 58 runs.

The Flyers also boast three batters hitting over .300 in A-10 play: senior Cameron Silva (.371), junior Nick Ryan (.356) and redshirt-junior Mitch Coughlin (.311). Freshman Connor Echols leads the A-10 in walks (10).

Senior Sam Brunner has the fifth-best ERA in the A-10 during conference play, at 0.98 in six games in relief. Freshman Austin Cline ranks sixth with 21 strikeouts.

Last year, Dayton went 5-19 in conference and GW swept them. This year if the team defense can play fairly error free, they may have a chance of coming away successful against the Colonials.

The bottom line:

It is always difficult to sweep on the road, but this series poses a good opportunity for the Colonials. With momentum finally in their favor, a fully stacked bullpen and a fully functioning offense, GW could win three in a row from the Flyers.

Plus, now is the time to win. Three of GW’s four remaining A-10 series are against teams who are tied or are better than them in the standings: VCU (9-3) the weekend of April 29, Fordham (6-3) the weekend of May 6 and the regular season finale the weekend of May 13 against Saint Louis (7-2).

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Zach Montellaro | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Senior Luke Olson threw eight shutout innings to clinch a series sweep over George Mason Sunday as the Colonials took down the Patriots 6–3. Zach Montellaro | Hatchet Staff Photographer

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

On the bus ride back from Davidson last weekend, GW finished watching the Pirates of Caribbean series.

The Colonials had just lost the series to the Wildcats, losing the final game by one run. The team was also playing without its full lineup.

A team without its top crew just isn’t as effective.

They were missing the strength of their three and four-hole hitters. Left fielder, sophomore Mark Osis had been out since before Atlantic 10 play began with a pulled hamstring and shortstop, junior Kevin Mahala was battling a hip flexor injury, restricting him to designated hitter.

This weekend against George Mason, GW had all hands on deck: Osis was back in left field and Mahala was back out at shortstop, for Saturday and Sunday’s games. The lineup was potent, scoring 24 runs in the three games. Every time the Colonials scored a run the PA system played the Pirates of the Caribbean soundtrack and the players on the bench could be heard leading the chant.

“It’s not even dissimilar to what we did with the Pirates one year when we had Zoltan. Remember that?” Ritchie said. “Saw the movie [Pirates of the Caribbean], hadn’t seen it a long time and just loved it and got fired up. There was that energy. That movie gives a lot of energy. There’s a lot of battles. We were all just talking about it. Let’s roll, let’s battle like this.”

The Colonials would right their season’s ship, improving to 6-3 after a series sweep over George Mason, closed out by a 9–3 Sunday win at The Tuck.

And while GW’s Sunday win showed off its offensive potential, senior Luke Olson stole the spotlight.

Olson relieved sophomore Brady Renner, who went one inning, giving up three runs, two earned, walking two and striking out two all on 46 pitches.

The submariner came in thinking he would just try to throw up some zeroes for a few innings. He left the game when it was over – pitching eight shutout innings and allowing three hits on over 99 pitches.

“I’m definitely tired, but it was a fun eight innings,” Olson said. “I was glad I was pitching well. Pretty much all of my pitches were working.”

Everytime Olson got to a two strike count or struck out a batter the bench would holler at him “Oi Oi Oi,” the Australian sports chant. Olson’s PA song is the popular Australian song, “Down Under” by Men at Work, a play off of his down under delivery.

“That was weird. The first time I heard it, I was like ‘Woah, what is that?’,” Olson said. “It was cool though. I was trying to hide my smile out there.”

As Olson dazzled on the mound with his fastball, slider combo, his teammates put up runs behind him to break open the game.

In the fifth inning, GW scored four runs on four hits.

Junior Bobby Campbell continued his torrid pace, working a walk to start the inning, coming back down in the count two strikes. In the series he went 4-10, with five runs scored and three RBI – a week after batting .571 against Davidson. His batting average is now up to .357.

A hit and run by sophomore Matt Cosentino, in the designated hitter spot to help lengthen the lineup, landed runners on first and second with one out. Then a steal by Campbell, followed by an overthrown ball allowed him to score and moved Cosentino to second.

Sophomore Brandon Chapman would single in Cosentino with a bloop hit to center and later junior Joey Bartosic would drive in two runs with his rip to the left center field 363 feet marker for a double, and his third hit of the day.

In the bottom of the first inning, following a top half where it looked like GW’s chance for a sweep would be limited, the Colonials came back out and plated three of their own. Mahala doubled in the third run of the inning for his one hit of the day.

“We had a lot of energy today,” Mahala said. “Just real hot. I don’t know what it was today, but we just woke up with a lot of energy and kept it rolling throughout the game. You go down three in the first inning and to keep the energy like that is a big step forward for the team.”

With Mahala and Osis, regardless of their personal production, the team is deeper both in the field and at the plate. And mentally, when you have two of your top hitters fully back in the lineup, you know you have a good chance.

“It was great, it was one of the few times that they had that much energy throughout the entire three games, one through nine, all nine, every game, boom, boom, boom, no matter what,” Ritchie said. “We’re having a lot of fun.”

Series Recap

Game 1: GW 1, GMU 0

Although it didn’t play out as pretty as it sounds – ace of the staff to the setup man to the closer for a 1-0 shutout victory – GW did win the series opener against the Patriots off of a formula that they have been looking to execute.

Senior Bobby LeWarne picked up his team-high fifth win of the season, going six innings, scattering five hits and striking out six with 104 pitches. He had to wiggle out of some kind of trouble in every inning. Freshman Justin Friedman escaped his own trouble in the seventh, and junior Eddie Muhl had to sweat it out too before earning his ninth save of the season.

Campbell collected GW’s first hit of the game in the fifth with a double. Junior Cody Bryant would drive him in with a double of his own.

Game 2: GW 14, GMU 4

In the team’s first game with a full, healthy lineup since before A-10 play started, the offense clicked for 14 runs, eight earned. The Colonials put up crooked numbers in the third and fourth, scoring eight and five runs, respectively.

Chapman hit a grand slam, and went 2-3 on the day with two runs scored and five RBI. Osis went 3-5, with two runs scored and one RBI.

GW used just two pitches, starter, junior Shane Sweeney, who went 4.2 innings and allowed four runs, three earned on 90 pitches. Senior Jacob Williams would get the win, his third of the season, closing the final 4.1 innings, allowing one hit and striking out four on 60 pitches.

Up Next: GW will host Towson, Tuesday at 3 p.m. Sophomore Robbie Metz is a potential candidate to start, among a whole, fairly rested bullpen – after the Colonials used seven pitchers between three games.

The team will resume conference play on the road at Dayton (4-8) this weekend. The starting rotation is expected to stay the same: LeWarne, Sweeney, Renner.

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

Opposing pitcher Tyler Zombro entered the game with a 1-6 record and a 7.09 ERA.

Entering the fifth inning, the George Mason junior was throwing a perfect game.

GW senior Bobby LeWarne had matched Zombro to that point in the Atlantic 10 series opener – although it was a little more stressful.

In the top half of the fifth, with one out, LeWarne had a runner on third, after a failed pickoff attempt. He struck out the two-hitter. Then a brief mound visit by his catcher and first baseman, junior Bobby Campbell, calmed LeWarne down before he faced the Patriots’ top hitter. LeWarne struck him out looking on his go-to change up.

“I ran back to the dugout and told everybody, ‘That’s what momentum is supposed to feel like,’” head coach Gregg Ritchie said. “Understand, that’s momentum…And you need to take that momentum with energy right here now, and find a way to score one run.’”

Lead off the fifth inning at the plate, Campbell then had a meeting of his own. He had just showed his disgust with a pitch call that put him down in the count two strikes to none.

Third base coach Dave Lorber yelled ‘time’ to the umpire and called Campbell over. Entering the game, the Colonials cleanup hitter was batting .607 in his last six games.

Campbell slashed the 0-2 pitch the opposite way, down the right field line for a standup double. Pumped up he motioned to the dugout and it seemed GW was poised for a potent inning.

“Relief,” Campbell said. “Just…thankful that he left one over.”

With one out and Campbell on third, junior Andrew Selby tried to execute the suicide squeeze. He popped it up to the catcher. Campbell scrambled back to third, already half way down the line. Selby couldn’t get him in, but junior Cody Bryant could, on a two-strike two-out double to right center.

“They’re thinking they’re winning and I’m like, ‘Nah.’ Just double. Thought it was cool, man. I was pumped up, everyone was pumped up,” Bryant said.

That would be all the Colonials (4-3) would need, winning the opener against George Mason (2-8) 1-0, Friday afternoon at The Tuck.

LeWarne would earn his fifth win of the season, improving to 5-2 on the year. His final line would read: 6.0 innings, five hits, no runs, three walks and six strikeouts on 104 pitches. It was a relatively short outing for LeWarne, but it did the job.

“I’ve got a lot of practice,” LeWarne said. “I’m a little old now, but tough situations you just got to stay calm and make your pitches.”

GW bridged the rest of the game with what has become its set-up-to-closer combo of freshman Justin Friedman and junior Eddie Muhl.

Friedman walked the leadoff batter in the seventh, and eventually escaped a bases loaded jam with two outs facing George Mason’s cleanup hitter. In the eighth, Friedman was replaced by Muhl after walking the leadoff batter a second time.

Muhl stranded the one runner but continued the trend to start the ninth by throwing a lead off walk. A failed pickoff attempt allowed the runner to move to second, and a fly ball moved him 90 feet from tying the game.

Muhl worked the count full against the Patriots’ top hitter. He hit a line drive to left but it was caught on a diving grab to end the game.

Muhl, who entered the series tied for ninth in country in saves, picked up his ninth of the season Friday to lock up the win.

The sinking line drive to left field was caught by sophomore Mark Osis in his first day back from a hamstring injury sustained the week before the A-10 opener.

“Osis back is huge,” Ritchie said. “He made four fantastic plays. Very aware out there.”

The team had missed his bat in the two A-10 series without him. Osis was leading the Colonials in most offensive categories, highlighted by his .389 batting average. The left fielder went 1-3 on the day, but showed his value from the two diving catches, one in the third and one in the ninth to save the game, in addition to a couple well played balls down the left field line.

The other main injured Colonial, junior Kevin Mahala, was the team’s designated hitter on the day. Still battling back from a hip flexor injury, Mahala may be able to return to shortstop Sunday.

The final box score is not particularly pretty: one run, three hits and two errors, but GW got the win and will head into Saturday with a chance to clinch the series.

“That’s one you haven’t seen all year,” Ritchie said. “A situation like that where our pitching comes up big and we do the right things. Yeah, it got a little hairy at the end with the error on the throw over, but the bullpen coming in and essentially slamming the door was pretty decent.”

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Media Credit: Andrew Goodman | Hatchet Staff Photographer

First baseman Bobby Campbell tosses the ball to senior pitcher Jacob Williams in a game against La Salle earlier this season. Media Credit: Andrew Goodman | Hatchet Staff Photographer

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

What: Baseball (3–3 A-10) vs. George Mason (2-7 A-10), Conference Series
Where: Tucker Field at Barcroft Park, Arlington, Va.
When: Friday, April 15 at 3 p.m.; Saturday, at 1 p.m.; Sunday, at 12 p.m.

Sitting in the middle of the conference – tied for sixth – GW is not exactly where they want to be heading into a big home series against George Mason. A series against the Patriots at home though move the Colonials in the right direction, though.

GW lost its last series to Davidson, falling in the series rubber match 8-7, when the bullpen couldn’t follow up a strong start.

The injuries are layered. Besides the season-long issue of not having enough healthy arms, two of the team’s top hitters are now injured – sophomore Mark Osis (pulled hamstring) and junior Kevin Mahala (hip flexor).

“With Osis and Mahala in the position they’re in right now, it definitely has put us in a precarious position defensively and offensively in terms of the length of the lineup,” head coach Gregg Ritchie said after the Davidson series last weekend. “Combining that with pitching stuff since day one of the season, it’s a challenge, but the guys are doing some really good things.”

The good news is Tuesday’s 10-2 road win over Towson indicates the team may be closer to being healthy.

The two highlights were Osis pinch hitting (and walking on seven pitches) and sophomore Robbie Metz getting the start (4.0 innings, seven hits, two runs, three strikeouts, 78 pitches). And Mahala may even play in the field this weekend, Ritchie said.

A healthier team against a weaker George Mason team could be the formula for success for GW this weekend.

Case for the Colonials:

If the starters can continue their dominance, and the Colonials’ bats can continue their hot hitting, GW should have a shot at a sweep.

The difference this weekend is sophomore Brady Renner will likely be lengthened out to the 80 plus pitch region, and be able to give GW the length they need to win. Still recovering from a back shoulder strain, Renner is about a start or two away from being fully stretched out.

And if GW can get Osis and Mahala more at-bats, the team can be as strong as they were when they scored 19 runs against local powerhouse Maryland last month.

Look for junior Bobby Campbell to stay hot, after batting .571 in the Davidson series, and going 4-5 with three runs scored, two driven in and one home run against Towson. And junior Joey Bartosic should start to show his midseason form, after collecting five hits and scoring four runs last weekend.

Also, Sunday is Bark at Barcroft, when fans can bring their dogs to the park. A big crowd typically doesn’t hurt the home team.

Case for the Patriots:

In the three years Ritchie coached the Colonials, his team is 3-5 against George Mason. The last two years, GW has lost the season series.

This season though, George Mason is off to a rough start in conference. The Patriots lost 2-of-3 to Dayton (3-6) this past weekend, in Fairfax, Va. In the battle of the two bottom teams of the division, they were badly beaten at home – 2-9 in the first game and 6-9 in the third game.

The one game they won though was the middle game of the series, 8-2, on the performance of sophomore Joe Williams. He went 8.0 innings, giving up seven hits but only one run, while striking out seven. He will likely matchup with GW’s Shane Sweeney on Saturday and could be Mason’s best chance at preventing a sweep or perhaps swinging the momentum of the series their way.

The Patriots’ top hitter this year, sophomore Brady Acker, went a combined 3-11, with two RBI and two runs scored against GW last year. This season Acker is batting a team-high .352, in 14 games played and started, including two home runs and 10 RBI.

The bottom line:
GW needs to come to the ballpark healthy this weekend. The Colonials are averaging 3.8 runs a game in conference play, while the Patriots are averaging 3.4 runs a game. If Mahala can play the field in at least one game and Osis can get in the lineup, the Colonials should have the depth, the offensive power and the starting pitching to pull off a sweep this weekend or at the very least an A-10 series win.

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Monday, April 11, 2016 3:25 p.m.

Baseball drops series at Davidson

Senior Luke Olson releases a pitch to a La Salle hitter last week. Olson and the Colonials are trying to piece together a relieving corps despite a host of injuries. Hatchet File Photo.

Senior Luke Olson releases a pitch to a La Salle hitter last week. Olson and the Colonials are trying to piece together a relieving corps despite a host of injuries. Hatchet File Photo.

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

Junior Kevin Mahala lined one, six feet high, with enough oomph to split the outfield and shoot for the gap.

The tying run was standing 90 feet away and the go-ahead run stood at second.

Davidson’s second baseman made the diving grab on designated hitter Mahala’s scorcher. One more out later and the eighth inning three-run rally was over. GW still trailed by one in the conference rubber match.

A few more outs later and the game was over, 8-7. The series was over with it: GW dropped to 3-3 overall in the Atlantic 10 after losing two-of-three on the road to the Wildcats.

“In the last three years, this is the best offense we’ve ever had,” head coach Gregg Ritchie said. “There’s not a lot of games you lose when you get 15 hits and seven runs and commit zero errors. So it is a tough one to swallow, but at the same time and I’ll say it right now, our guys had really great intensity level. If we repeat that and play with that intensity all the way, we’ll be OK.”

GW had won the first game with a solid performance by senior Bobby LeWarne, who picked up his fourth win of the season against the Wildcats (7-2). It seemed the Colonials stood a good chance to pick up another conference series victory – a week after defeating La Salle (2-4) at home.

GW couldn’t sweep the Explorers because of bullpen issues, though, and this week the Colonials couldn’t pick up the series win against Davidson because of more bullpen issues. They also had problems with their infield and the team’s sudden lack of depth.

“[Shane] Sweeney pitched well, LeWarne pitched well, [Brady] Renner dominated. The starting situation is good with those three for now, but it’s just a matter of how we’re going to utilize the other guys,” Ritchie said.

There aren’t many other guys to utilize, though. The current health situation for the Colonials is as follows:

GW is still down four arms, all of whom will not be back this season.

Sophomore Brady Renner is back and healthy from a back shoulder strain. He threw a season-high 64 pitches Sunday, going 4.1 innings and giving up three runs on three hits and three walks.

Mahala, normally the starting shortstop, is still nursing a hip flexor injury but has resumed some infield practice and running activities. Mahala legged out a double this weekend in DH duties.

Sophomore Mark Osis, who was leading the team in most offensive categories before suffering a pulled hamstring the week leading up to GW’s A-10 opener, is on a similar timetable to Mahala. He may even see time at DH this coming week against George Mason, particularly if Mahala can play one game in the field.

With all those injuries, GW has less ability to be creative.

Sophomore Robbie Metz was not going to pitch Sunday, like he did last Sunday from the bullpen, because the team needed more depth in the infield.

Metz played the first game of his college career at shortstop on Sunday. Both Metz and junior Eli Kashi are natural shortstops. Kashi swung back over to third after filling filling the hole for the injured Mahala at shortstop. GW then filled second base with a combination of junior Colin Gibbons-Fly and senior Andy Young.

The arrangement worked better than GW’s did Saturday, when Sweeney’s solid start was spoiled by poor defense on the third base side.

“Quite honestly, we made three errors they didn’t even give us,” Ritchie said. “They were responsible for five runs.”

And it would be great for the team to get Metz on the mound, but with infield defense becoming paramount, the priorities have shifted.

“We gotta get Metz going, gotta get him back on the mound, but it’s hard to do that when you don’t have anybody who can play the field right now. You see the dilemma there, right?” Ritchie said.

Sunday’s game, though, was still winnable.

Renner left the game with the lead. Senior Jacob Williams came in relief. This is the second week in a row that Williams did not start, but rather came in relief to piggyback Renner. Each week he has run into trouble early. Williams would strike out the first batter he faced, a matchup Ritchie liked, but would give up a two RBI triple to right center to the next.

In the next inning, Williams would give up a leadoff double and then a single up the middle. Freshman Jordan Friedman came in relief and struck out a batter, but would give up a bases loaded triple. The sixth inning would end with five runs in for the Wildcats.

Metz was never available to pitch because the team needed him in the field at shortstop.

GW did battle back in the eighth, but the liner caught off of Mahala’s bat would prove to be the last scare.

“I think I’m seeing them turn the tide a little bit, in terms of playing at a more regular, consistent energy level as well,” Ritchie said. “They’re realizing there are things we’re up against that most teams typically aren’t up against and they’re just deciding to embrace it now and go get it.”

Series Recap

Game 1: GW 3, Davidson 2

Bobby LeWarne gave up one run in the first, but didn’t allow another run until the seventh inning. He would go 7.1 innings, scattering nine hits for the two runs on 113 pitches.

What has turned into the usual bullpen combo of Justin Friedman to junior Eddie Muhl closed out the game. Friedman stranded a baserunner in the eighth. Muhl escaped trouble in the ninth, leaving two on base to earn his eighth save of the season.

Junior Bobby Campbell went 3-5 at the plate, with two RBI singles in the first and third.

Game 2: GW 4, Davidson 7

Shane Sweeney’s final line doesn’t read too well: 5.0 plus innings pitched, allowing 11 hits, seven runs, all earned. Ritchie says that poor defense on the left side of the infield, manned by junior Cody Bryant at third base and Eli Kashi at shortstop, cost them. He credits five runs to the misplayed balls by the defense.

Senior Luke Olson finished the final three frames, keeping the bullpen fresh for the series rubber match.

Campbell stayed hot, going 2-4 with a two-out RBI single in the fifth.

Game 3: GW 7, Davidson 8

The Colonials were up 4-1 headed into the fifth inning, at which point Brady Renner had just about reached his pitch count limit, as he continues to rehab a back shoulder strain.

GW would give up seven runs on six hits in consecutive innings to eventually lose the game and the series.

In the eighth inning, GW would score three runs, but leave two on base in scoring position, following a hard lineout by Mahala and a fly out by sophomore Brandon Chapman.

Campbell went 3-5, with two more RBIs, batting .571 in the series and driving in five runs. Mahala also knocked in two runs. Sophomore Matt Cosentino, getting the start in left, went 4-5 with three runs scored.

Up Next: GW will play at Towson, Tuesday at 3:30 p.m. Robbie Metz is a potential starter for the midweek game.

The Colonials will then host George Mason in an important A-10 series. First pitch Friday is scheduled for 3 p.m. Saturday’s game is at 1 p.m. and then Sunday’s Bark at Barcroft game, the annual bring-your-dog-to-the-stadium day, is at noon.

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Senior Luke Olson was one of six GW pitchers to take the mound Sunday in a 6–3 loss to La Salle. Andrew Goodman | Hatchet Staff Photographer

Senior Luke Olson was one of six GW pitchers to take the mound Sunday in a 6–3 loss to La Salle. Andrew Goodman | Hatchet Staff Photographer

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

By all accounts, the weekend was a success for GW.

The Colonials won their Atlantic 10 series opener. Their ace gave them nearly a complete game Friday. A weekday starter moved into the weekend role threw a one-hitter into the seventh inning. The bats put up enough runs to win and the bullpen finished games. Two wins in two days, by one run apiece.

But a 30-plus-minute seventh inning against La Salle Sunday reminded the Colonials the difficulty of finishing.

“We can’t read into everything,” head coach Gregg Ritchie said. “You just can’t. Baseball is a funny thing.”

Between three pitchers, three walks handed out, two RBI singles and one wild pitch, the Explorers tied the game in the inning and then took back the lead for good, and did so with two outs.

La Salle would go onto win 6–3, although GW (10–18) would take the series win in the opening weekend of conference play.

“When you’re trying to win a game three and sweep, the sweep is the toughest game to get to. It’s like winning a doubleheader,” Ritchie said. “You would like to have it happen, but you know the number one goal was to come out here get a series victory and we did. We have to move on.”

GW threw three starters, two in relief.

Sophomore Brady Renner got his second start and third appearance of the season, going 2.2 innings, allowing one hit and no runs. But Renner, still regaining his strength after a back shoulder strain, had a short outing.

The usual Sunday starter, senior Jacob Williams, came in relief but couldn’t last. He gave up the first run of the game off of a sacrifice fly in the fifth, but the game unravelled in the sixth inning after GW got the lead back with a two-run home run by junior Cody Bryant. Williams loaded the bases with no outs. Senior Luke Olson came in and induced two ground balls to allow just one run.

In the bottom of the sixth, sophomore Robbie Metz led off with a triple. He scored on a suicide squeeze. Once Metz scored, he headed to the bullpen to start warming up. He then warmed up from the infield in between the sixth and seventh. When the seventh inning started, he went back out to second.

“Once we got that squeeze done, and got the lead, everything was really in line,” Ritchie said. “It was set up exactly the way we were formulating it.”

When Olson gave up a leadoff single, Metz was called in to pitch.

Nothing worked for Metz, the third typical starter of the day pitching for GW. He knew coming into the weekend he would likely be used in this role, instead of a start.

Metz walked the first two batters he faced on full counts, to load the bases. He then picked up a couple outs, on a pop up and a sacrifice fly on a 1-2 pitch, to tie the game. He then gave up back-to-back RBI singles, forcing him out. One more run would score in the inning on a wild pitch.

“I knew I was going to pitch, I just didn’t do my job,” Metz said.

After Ritchie talked to the team, then to his starters, he had a conversation with Metz about how to process his experience once everyone had left the dugout.

“The game sped up on you a little bit, didn’t it?” Ritchie said he told Metz.

“There’s a little frustration there, because he wants to be better and it didn’t happen,” Ritchie said. “But that’s something you learn, you learn how to harness it. That was the bigger part of the conversation, cut yourself a break and understand that each step you take is a good move because you can take that down the road the next step and learn from that.”

At the plate the Colonials couldn’t slow it down either. They had their chances early in the game, getting the leadoff hitter on base in the first three innings but doing nothing with it. In the sixth, when Metz led off with a triple, they could only muster one run.

“We just didn’t stick with our approach of the last couple games,” sophomore catcher Brandon Chapman, who went 0-3, with one run scored Sunday, said. “Getting out of our approach of staying the other way, letting the ball get deep, and barreling balls up. We were kind of getting big.”

Chapman saw Metz rush his delivery. Chapman saw six different pitchers try and fail to get into a groove Sunday, but sees the weekend’s results as a whole as a step in the right direction.

“We just got a series win, big two-and-one in the conference – it’s a good start,” Chapman said.

Series Recap

Game 1: GW 4, La Salle 3

The Colonials won the series opener, showing they could do what they had struggled to do all season long in the non-conference – finish. Taking in the fresh start, GW rode senior Bobby LeWarne for 8.2 innings. La Salle scraped across one in the ninth, but junior Eddie Muhl closed it out. Read the full game recap here.

Game 2: GW 2, La Salle 1

An injured Kevin Mahala embraced the DH role Saturday. Battling a hip-flexor injury, the shortstop spent the rest of the weekend just doing work at the plate. He drove in the team’s lone two runs in the fifth on a two-out single through the right side.

Junior Shane Sweeney got the start instead of sophomore Robbie Metz, the usual Saturday starter. Electing to rest his two-way player, Ritchie started Sweeney and got a solid 6.2 innings, allowing just one hit and striking out four on 85 pitches. A combination of freshman Justin Friedman and Muhl finished off the game. Muhl collected his seventh save of the season.

Up next: GW faces UMBC in Baltimore Tuesday at 6 p.m. after losing at home last week to the Retrievers, 10–8, in 11 innings. The Colonials continue conference play on the road at Davidson (16-12, 4-2), April 8-10. Ritchie said the starting rotation is yet to be determined.

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