Baseball blanked by Xavier

The GW baseball team fell to Xavier 4-0 Sunday in its final regular season game at Barcroft Park, losing the series 3-1 (37-19, 17-7 A-10) but maintaining its second-place standing in the Atlantic 10 West. In this position, the Colonials qualify for the A-10 tournament.

The top six teams in the A-10 conference advance to the tournament that will be held in Norwich, Conn. next Thursday. As the third seed GW will face No. six Dayton in preliminaries May 16. After the prelims a three-game series for the championship will be held at the home of the highest seed May 23.

Richmond and St. Bonaventure, who took first place in the West and East divisions respectively, are one and two seeds with Temple and Xavier rounding out the four and five spots.

GW’s offense, which leads the conference in nearly every major offensive statistical category, including homeruns, average, and RBIs, managed only four hits and did not advance a single runner beyond second base.

Head coach Tom Walter said he was not concerned with his team’s lackluster performance as the Colonials had already clinched a spot in the tournament.

“It was a meaningless game in the standings, it was Senior Day, and I think everyone was looking forward to the (A-10) tournament,” he said. “That’s why I think we played flat, but I’m not worried at all because I know we will play well when it counts.”

The Colonials hitting problems were complicated by four errors in the field, which Walter called “very costly.”

“Errors happen, but what you don’t want is for them to be compounded by a walk or a hit,” he said. “And that’s what happened today.”

Two of Xavier’s four runs scored after GW errors, as starter Chris Worth allowed only two earned runs in four and one third innings. Justin Orenduff and Mike O’Connor combined to pitch scoreless ball for the remainder of the game in relief, but GW’s offense could not threaten the Musketeers’ lead.

In game two of Saturday’s doubleheader, GW knocked in 12 runs in the first three innings, which was more than enough to back up a record-tying pitching performance by Greg Conden. The junior ace struck out seven and gave up one earned run on three hits to notch his tenth win of the year, tying Mike Howell’s 23-year-old GW record for most wins in a single season.

Mike Bassett led the way behind the plate for the Colonials, capping off the team’s eight-run third inning with a three-run home run that put GW ahead 12-0. Bassett also homered in the first game, breaking Ryan Dacey’s career runs scored school record of 186. Bassett, who has now broken six GW all-time records, has 16 home runs this season.

Conden and reliever Avi Rasowski had little trouble holding the Colonials’ lead, combining to give up only four hits. Xavier did not score until the sixth inning, cutting GW’s lead to 12-1 before the Colonials answered with another run in the bottom of the inning.

GW ended up on the losing end of a pitching duel in the first game of the double header, falling 2-1 to the Musketeers. The Colonials scored their only run on Bassett’s solo-home run in the second inning and had only five hits in the game. The scarce offensive output was a rarity for GW, which had been held to less than two runs only once since March 23.

The poor hitting overshadowed the pitching performance of Jason Baker, who gave up only one earned run on seven hits, striking out eight in his third complete game of the season.

Earlier in the week, GW split a pair of games against Towson University and University of Maryland Baltimore County. Playing in Baltimore Wednesday, GW beat UMBC 17-8 with a strong offensive performance that included 14 hits and three home runs.

Nick Koken got the win on the mound for GW, allowing three earned runs on seven hits, striking out seven in his first start since his no-hitter May 2.

In a 6-5 home loss to Towson Tuesday, Bassett broke yet another school record with his 793rd career at-bat, after he broke the school record for career hits with his 268th last Sunday at Duquesne.

Jake Wald and Travis Crowder both homered for GW, erasing an early 4-0 deficit to tie the game 5-5 after the seventh inning. After the tie extended the game to ten innings, an error by GW pitcher Mike O’Connor allowed the winning run to score in the top of the tenth, and GW could not answer in its last chance at the plate.

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