The GW baseball team ended a historic season Saturday, after breaking the school record for wins with 42.
Also in 2002, senior Mike Bassett also set six career records, including home runs and RBIs, and the team won the Atlantic 10 tournament and reached the NCAA tournament for the first time in 10 years.
But the team fell short of one goal – notching its first tournament win since a victory over Seton Hall in 1979 – after a 6-4 loss to the U.S. Naval Academy Midshipmen in the sub-regional round of the NCAA tournament in Winston-Salem, N.C.
Navy broke a 3-3 tie with a three-run ninth inning and Midshipmen reliever Steve Goocey struck out Mike Bassett swinging on a 2-2 pitch for the final out of the Colonials’ season.
The Colonials had already lost their first round game Friday 12-6 in a slugfest to No. 4 (ESPN) Wake Forest University, making Saturday’s game a do-or-die situation in the double elimination tournament.
It is doubtful the 2002 squad would have made the trip to North Carolina if it had not won the Atlantic 10 championship and received an at-large berth. The Colonials earned the spot by taking two of three from the No. 20 (ESPN) Richmond Spiders in the A-10 tournament finals, something no other conference team had done all season. The only other A-10 team to beat the Spider’s is Xavier, which only claimed one win.
Richmond went on the defeat Navy and Wake Forest, advancing to the NCAA super regionals and winning its first regional game in program history.
The historic season was due in large part to the seven seniors that made their last Colonial appearance in the Navy loss – the record-setting Bassett, infielders Travis Crowder and Matt Krimmel, outfielder Tony Brown, and pitchers Jason Baker, Chris Worth and Mike O’Connor.
Combined, the four fielders averaged over .330 this season and the three pitchers had a collective ERA under 5.5.
Though the season is over to the seniors, some of their baseball careers will continue as five Colonial seniors were drafted by four National League teams; Mike O’Connor to the Montreal Expos, Mike Bassett to the Cincinnati Reds, Tony Brown to the Expos, Jason Baker to the Milwaukee Brewers and Matt Krimmel to the Reds. Junior Jake Wald was also drafted by the San Francisco Giants.
Navy 6, GW 4
It was the position every star-hitter dreams of, his team down three in the bottom of the ninth, on the brink of elimination, the tying runs on base, two balls, two strikes. But Mike Bassett, the team’s most productive hitter, could not save the day this time as he struck out swinging, leaving Navy with its 6-4 lead intact and ending the Colonials tournament journey after two games.
Midshipman Craig Candeto broke open a three-three tie in the bottom of the fifth with a two-run homer over the left centerfield wall to put the Midshipmen in the position to win the game. After giving up lead-off doubles and singles, starter Colonial Jason Baker allowed the first run of the inning on an RBI single up the middle. The next two runs followed quickly from Candeto’s two-run home run.
Baker (5-7) gave up all six of Navy’s runs off nine hits in his 4.2 innings. Mike O’Connor and Justin Orenduff fared better in their three total innings of relief. They pitched scoreless ball for the remainder of the game, striking out half the batters they faced.
Behind this solid pitching, GW tried to mount a comeback but the Colonial’s bats were not as productive as they had been all season. They left nine men on and were 8-for-34 (.235) as a team compared to their season average of .313.
Nick Iovacchini scraped together a run in the ninth on a walk and two fielder’s choices after being hit by a pitch, but the Colonials were shut down with the go-ahead run at the plate by Navy reliever Steve Goocey, who whiffed Bassett to seal the win.
Before Navy’s three-run explosion, the game was back-and-forth. GW
knocked in a run at the top of the first when Bassett’s single through the right side scored Tony Brown and Navy responded with one in the bottom of the first and two more in the third. The 3-3 tie came from two Colonial runs at the top of the fifth inning from Iovacchini, who scored on a wild pitch, and Jake Wald, who scored on Jeff Fertitta’s triple to centerfield.
Wake Forest 12, GW 6
The hitting GW lacked in the Navy game was present against Wake Forest. They out-hit the Demon Deacons 12-11, clean-up hitter Mike Bassett went 4-for-5 and Tony Brown hit a 420-foot home run, but the
Colonials still could not pull off a win in their first tournament appearance, losing to seventh-seed Wake Forest 12-6.
Wake Forest rocked starter Greg Conden for six runs, part of a nine-run fourth inning that erased any good the Colonials’ early 3-0 lead had done. After Conden gave up a walk, three singles and a double, reliever Dan Sullivan allowed a bases-loaded home run for Wake Forest’s next four runs, making it 10-4.
The Colonials could not recover. Though they added a run in both the sixth and seventh innings off RBIs from Chris Barry and Bassett respectively, the Deacons added a pair off the third of GW’s four pitchers for the day, Chris Worth, in the seventh to pull further ahead.