This post was written by Hatchet reporters Sean Hurd and Josh Solomon.
There were plenty of bad omens in the Colonials’ elimination game against Rhode Island.
There was the lightning strike near home plate Thursday night, which delayed the game until the next morning while GW was rallying. There was a blown save in the ninth inning Friday from usually reliable Craig LeJeune, putting GW’s surprise season on the ropes.
But in the end, GW caught a break, and sealed a 5-4 walkoff win on light-hitting Xavier Parkmond’s bases-loaded infield single.
Parkmond, who was 0-4 coming into the at bat, got the irregular start at catcher for the elimination game against Rhode Island. He stroked the second pitch of the at bat to the shortstop who could not get a throw off to home in time to cut off the winning run.
It was a strange, seesaw, two-day victory. But it kept the Colonials’ season alive, sending them to a matchup Friday afternoon against top-seeded Saint Louis.
After a thunderstorm delayed the game from Thursday night with the score knotted at 1-1 in the fifth, side-winding senior Kenny O’Brien relieved junior Aaron Weisberg. O’Brien gave up the lead on a deep RBI double down the left field line.
But GW came alive in the bottom of the seventh. With two outs and one man on, senior Derek Brown lifted a ball way out to right field that left the ballpark in a hurry, sending GW up 3-2.
Head coach Gregg Ritchie, named the Atlantic 10 Coach of the Year this week, then called on his closer LeJeune to pitch the two final innings. He breezed through his first inning of work, retiring the batters in order, but then did not have the same luck in the ninth.
A blooper, walk, and a single loaded the bases with no outs, signaling nothing but trouble for the Colonials, who nursed only a one-run lead.
With the infield in, the Rams knocked a ball through the right side to tie up the game. Ritchie then elected to bring in freshman Luke Olsen to get his team out of the jam. Olsen allowed one more ball to squeak through the right side of the infield, yielding one run, but Parkmond blocked the plate successfully as he tagged the second runner out at home.
Now down 4-3, with one out in the bottom of the ninth, senior Matthew Murakami, who has come up in big situations all year long, slapped a ball to the shortstop, forcing him to make a quick play. The fielder threw the ball away, rushing the throw, allowing the speedy Murakami to be safe at first with one out.
Brown, who gave GW the lead just a few innings earlier, came up to bat. In typical Colonial small-ball fashion, Brown surprised the Rams with a bunt attempt instead of swinging for the fences, allowing Murakami to steal second base. Brown would later walk, and a base hit to shallow left field set up the bases loaded and a chance for the Colonials to tie or win the game.
Justin Albright, the team MVP, but off to a slow start this posteason, took four straight balls, working a walk to tie the game.
Rhode Island brought in a new pitcher to face the struggling Parkmond, who had struck out twice in the game already. This time he hit the ball just deep enough and hard enough to the shortstop that he could not field it cleanly enough to make a play at home. With GW’s win, the benches cleared to celebrate with Parkmond at first base.
GW now faces elimination against the top-seeded Billikens at 3:30 p.m. The probable starter for GW is freshman Max Kaplow, who was leading the team on the mound early in the season until he was scratched from a start against Fordham in late April due to an injury. He has yet to pitch in a league game since.