The GW baseball team is headed back to the Atlantic 10 Tournament to play top-seeded Massachusetts in the first round on May 17 in Orlando, Fla. The Minutemen eliminated the Colonials from the tournament last season after erasing an 8-0 deficit to win 9-8. Two weeks ago UMass took 2-of-3 games from GW at Barcroft Park, which put GW’s post-season chances in doubt.
St. Bonaventure entered the weekend in fifth place with a chance to bump GW from the fourth and final qualifying spot in the A-10 tournament, if the Bonnies won two games at Temple. The team split with Temple in a May 11 doubleheader. The on May 12 the Bonnies surrendered four first-inning runs at Erny Field in Philadelphia, and Temple rolled to an 11-7 victory, allowing the Colonials to qualify.
Senior Dan Rouhier said the team was listening to the play-by-play of the Temple game on the bus back from Kentucky, where the Colonials won their final regular season game against Morehead State University.
“The best word to describe it is ‘relief,’” Rouhier said. “The sense of relief makes us a little more inspired.”
The top four teams in the conference qualified for the tournament. UMass received the top seed, followed by Dayton and Temple. The tournament format is double elimination, meaning a team’s season ends after its second loss. The winner of the tournament receives an automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament.
GW’s Greg Conden will pitch against the Minuteman in the first round. Coach Tom Walter said he picked Conden to throw because he beat UMass May 5. Conden surrendered five runs against the Minutemen.
Rouhier said even though the Colonials want to avenge their losses to UMass, they are ready for any of the teams.
“It doesn’t matter who we’re playing,” Rouhier said.
In game two, Walter said Jason Baker will start.
Walter said GW has an advantage because the Colonials’ relief pitching is superior to the other teams. He said if Baker struggles early in game two, he’d have full confidence in relievers Mike O’Connor and Bryan Beggs to bail Baker out. Baker posted losses in games to Dayton and Temple this season. But Walter said Baker’s losses came due to poor run support.
The stadium in Orlando is much larger than Barcroft Park or any other A-10 ballpark, Walter said. That means GW will have to excel with their “short game.” Walter said it is a given the middle of the batting order will produce, but he needs the top of the order to get on base.
“We’ll have to play the short game with bunting,” Walter said.
Rouhier said he thinks it’s crucial Tony Dokoupil, Mike Bassett and Matt Krimmell hit doubles.
The team is dealing with some injuries, but Walter said he hopes the five-day layoff will be adequate time for the players to recuperate.
Lead-off hitter Travis Crowder has been running with a pulled hamstring. Matt Krimmel has a sore back.
The Colonials (35-21, 13-9 A-10) enter the tournament coming off a
weekend split at Morehead. Conden pitched six innings of one-hit ball in game one to lead the Colonials to a 8-2 victory. GW dropped the second game 11-6 after GW starter Jason Baker surrendered early runs.