GW baseball falls to Fordham in Atlantic 10 semifinal game

Coming into the season, few people would have predicted the GW baseball team would win the Atlantic 10 West Division and have a shot at winning the conference title.

After one of the best seasons in the program’s history, few would have guessed the Colonials’ 1998 campaign would end abruptly with a drubbing by Fordham in the A-10 semifinals.

GW fell to the Rams 14-5 Tuesday at Veterans’ Stadium in Philadelphia, Pa., in its final game of the season. Fordham went on to beat Virginia Tech 3-1 to win the A-10 title later that day.

For the Colonials (33-18), who finished the regular season with a school record for most wins in a season, a lopsided loss in the A-10 semifinals was not what they envisioned at the season’s end, head coach Tom Walter said.

“We were obviously very disappointed with the loss,” Walter said. “I was happy with how the guys played all year, but we just didn’t do anything well against Fordham.”

GW jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning, and Fordham tied the game at one in the top of the second.

The game remained tied until the fifth, when Fordham got to GW starter Adam Belicic (7-3). A walk, an infield single and a hit batter loaded the bases for left fielder Rob Sprague, who cleared the bases with a triple to give the Rams a 4-1 lead. Later in the inning, a run-scoring single pushed Fordham’s advantage to 5-1.

The Colonials came back with a pair of runs in the bottom of the inning. After a single by Dan Rouhier and a double by Ryan Dacey (5 for 5, 2 RBIs, 2 runs scored), junior Joe Beichert plated both runners with a single to close the gap to 5-3.

Chris Matarese then doubled with one out to put runners at second and third, but GW failed to put any more runs on the board in that inning – a key point in the game, Walter said.

“If we had gotten a key hit in that inning, two more runs would have scored, and it would have been a brand new ball game,” he said. “We just couldn’t convert on that opportunity.”

GW dug a deeper hole for itself in the sixth, when Fordham scored four more runs on reliever Ari Zagaris to increase its lead to 9-3. The Rams then hammered junior Tom Baginski for four runs in the ninth to ensure the victory.

GW’s pitching staff, which had been the backbone of the club for much of the season, struggled against Fordham. The staff ended the season with an earned run average of just over five, but four GW pitchers surrendered 11 earned runs to the Rams.

“We just couldn’t throw strikes,” Walter said of his pitchers, who combined for nine walks and three hit batters in the game. “If we could have thrown a few more strikes, it would have been a different game.”

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