Richmond brings fierce hurlers

The smooth sailing could end this weekend as the Colonials will face No. 24 Richmond, a team that may have the strength on the mound to halt the Colonials hot offense.

Spider sophomore Tim Stauffer, one of the first 19 players to be invited to the USA Baseball National Team Trials, is Richmond’s probable game-one starter. Stauffer (11-1) leads the Spiders (35-6, 14-1), with a 1.40 ERA and has thrown nine complete games and three shutouts.

And it only gets tougher for GW’s lineup. Four of the seven Atlantic 10 pitchers of the week this season come from Richmond. The Spider’s team ERA (3.70) is almost half their opponents ERA (6.87), and the pitching staff has held opponents to under five runs in all but nine games. Richmond’s probable starters in games two and three, Mike McGirr and Thomas Martin, have 11 combined wins and one loss.

“We are going to have to play good team baseball. We can’t afford to give away outs,” GW head coach Tom Walter said.

In comparison, GW’s pitching staff, with a combined ERA of 4.55, has been somewhat inconsistent lately. While the Colonials offense has stepped up when its pitching lacks, Richmond’s hurlers could make it hard for GW’s offense to compensate this weekend.

To counter this, Walter is moving Justin Orenduff, the A-10 Rookie of the Week who allowed three hits and eight strikeouts in almost four innings of work Tuesday, into the starting lineup. Orenduff (6-1) and starters Greg Conden (8-2) and Jason Baker (4-4) should match Richmond, Walter said.

Despite pitching woes, the Colonials are coming off a 10-game win streak, having won 17 of their last 18. Richmond was undefeated in the A-10, but a 2-1 loss to Xavier last Friday blemished their perfect conference record. GW, which has not faced Xavier yet, sits one place ahead of the Musketeers (21-20, 11-3) in the A-10 West standings.

And while the Colonials have given up five or more runs in 16 of their 42 games, they have scored over five runs in all but four games, a statistic even the Spiders do not come close to. They have hit over five runs in 26 of their 41 games. The Spiders have five players batting over .300 to GW’s 10, including senior Mike Bassett, who went 6-for-6 in Wednesday’s win over Towson. Walter said at bats like those will be key this weekend.

“Against Richmond there is not going to be as much room for error, so having quality at bats means everything,” he said.

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