This post was written by Hatchet reporter Josh Solomon.
Zero wins. Nine losses. The inaugural season with head coach Gregg Ritchie and the newly renovated Barctoft Park was underway, but looked to be going nowhere quickly. Maybe it would take a few years to build a program that was capable of finding a winning season.
Zero trips. Seven years. GW baseball hasn’t been to the conference playoffs since 2006, and it seemed like seniors such as Tyler McCarthy and Kenny O’Brien would have to wait to come back and watch from the stands to see another GW team make it to the Atlantic 10 tournament.
That all changed after Friday’s 3-1 victory.
O’Brien would come pitch in relief to earn the win on the mound and McCarthy was involved in all three runs as the seniors found a way to finally make it the postseason.
With GW’s (24-30, 14-9) win over La Salle (24-26,15-8), and losses from both Saint Joseph’s and Butler, the Colonials clinched a playoff berth – even moving up into sixth place in the standing – finally making it back to the A-10 tournament.
“[Playoffs] mean everything to us. We very nearly missed it my freshmen year and it’s been a horrible taste in our mouth ever since. Just having something to play for going into your final week that means anything,” McCarthy said in release.
Friday’s game started off with heightened importance following a series opening 10-3 winning against LaSalle on Thursday. In this second game of three against the Explorers, the Colonials knew that a win would almost guarantee them a playoff spot – the only thing they needed to do was play their game and do some scoreboard watching later.
GW grabbed the lead early off the bat of a McCarthy RBI single in the first inning, scoring junior Owen Beightol, who had reached on a hit by a pitch and then stole second base.
The 1-0 lead would hold until the fifth inning, thanks to the support of junior Aaron Weisberg’s pitching. He gave up the Explorers’ lone run off of a one out RBI single to left field.
Weisberg found himself in trouble again in the seventh inning after allowing a leadoff single, a stolen base and then another single. With runners on first and third with one out, Ritchie opted to bring in his side-arming lefty, O’Brien. Weisberg left the game with a stat line of 6 1/3 innings pitched, four hits, one run, three walks and six strikeouts, keeping his team in the game the whole way through.
O’Brien struck out the first batter he faced and the second batter popped out to third base, ending the scare. O’Brien would go on to pitch a scoreless eighth inning, and would eventually earn the win on the day, his fourth of the season.
The bottom of the eighth inning started off with freshman Nolan Lodden reaching on an error, one of two costly errors the Explorers committed despite outhitting the Colonials eight to seven. A sacrifice bunt moved Lodden to second and then a single by McCarthy set up runners on first and third with one out for sophomore Xavier Parkmond to put his team ahead.
“He started me off with two fastballs, one was a strike and one was a ball and I knew he was going to come back with something off speed so I was just sitting on it and, hey, I got a single,” Parkmond said in a release.
Parkmond drove in two runs with his single to left-center, finding the gap and putting the Colonials up for good. All that was needed was the save from their reliable closer Craig LeJeune, who struck out the first two batters of the ninth and then recorded the final out on a grounder to second base.
“I know a lot of them haven’t gone to the tournament or even have a winning season, and to be the guy to provide the winning hit is awesome. They’re great guys and with all the new changes going on, I think we’re headed in a good direction and a good spot for the tournament,” Parkmond said.
The only thing left was to watch the scoreboard and see both Saint Joseph’s and Butler lose to secure the Colonials’ playoff bid as they head into the final game of the regular season – senior day.
“You know having to clinch and being able to enjoy senior day tomorrow, a lot less pressure and go out there and have a good time. It’s something we’ve worked so hard for four years that we are finally being able to experience,” McCarthy said.