When the defending Atlantic 10 Champion Colonials had 11 of their first 15 conference games canceled or postponed due to weather early in the season, they suddenly found themselves in an unfamiliar position – second to last place. With wins over Dayton and Temple last week at Barcroft Park, the team completed its ascension out of the conference cellar by clinching a berth in next weekend’s A-10 Tournament.
Heading into Saturday’s games, GW (35-16, 12-9 A-10) needed either a win in its doubleheader against Dayton or losses from Temple, St. Bonaventure and St. Joseph’s to secure a spot in the tournament. By the time GW lost its first game 5-4, the other three teams had all lost as well, ensuring that the Colonials will have a shot to defend their title next weekend.
GW Head Coach Tom Walter said he is pleased with the effort his players showed in earning a spot in the tournament but that they have not yet reached their full potential.
“The first goal of the year is always to make it to the conference tournament,” he said. “But to be honest, we haven’t put together a total team effort for a full weekend series yet this year, so hopefully our best days are still ahead of us.”
Walter also said offense is what the team is built around and will be the most important part of the Colonials’ postseason success.
“Our pitching and defense is solid,” he said. “But the strength of our team is offense. We’re the type of team that will typically win 7-5, not 1-0.”
The Colonials will be the sixth and final seed Thursday in a first-round match-up against third-seeded Rhode Island in Norwich, Conn. No. 13 (Sports Weekly/ESPN) Richmond, which won all three games against GW in Richmond, Va. May 2-3, will be the favorite in the tournament as the No. 1 seed.
Walter said he knows his team must play at a high level if it advances to meet Richmond in a later round, adding, “we don’t have the kind of talent to beat them without playing our best.”
Sunday May 11
GW 9, Dayton 8
GW used its offensive clout to bail itself out of a deep hole Sunday at Barcroft Park in Arlington, Va. After seven and a half innings, the Colonials trailed 8-1 but stunned the Flyers (15-35, 4-20 A-10) with eight runs in the bottom of the eighth to win 9-8.
Junior captain Jeff Fertitta had two RBIs and senior captain Chris Barry drove in three runs during the inning. Freshman reliever Dan Pfau earned his first save of the season and sophomore Nick Koken got the win.
Saturday May 10 (Game 1)
Dayton 5, GW 4
The Colonials dropped their first home game of the year to Dayton Saturday. GW tied the game at four in the fifth inning, but the Flyers scored a run in the seventh to take the lead for good.
Despite the loss, GW starter Greg Conden pitched his 14th career complete game. The senior righthander needs three more starts to be tied for 10th place in the NCAA record books for career starts by a pitcher. Conden is the all-time wins leader for GW with a career record of 35-16.
Saturday May 10, (Game 2)
GW 9, Dayton 3
GW and Dayton were locked up in a tight 3-2 ballgame until the fifth inning, when the Colonials broke the game open with seven runs on four hits. Sophomore Ryan Roberson went 2-for-3 and had 3 RBIs to add to his A-10 leading total. Sophomore starter Dan Sullivan picked up his third win of the season with a complete game, allowing three runs on five hits.
GW vs. Temple (three games)
GW took three games from Temple in a series that was originally scheduled for late March. The Colonials handily won the last two games of the series, 5-1 and 7-3, respectively, in a late afternoon doubleheader.
Sophomore Joe Michalski’s walk-off three-run homer in the first game of the series gave the Colonials a 6-3 win.