The GW baseball team came into Saturday’s game against top-seeded Richmond needing a win to stay alive in the Atlantic 10 Tournament. But the Colonials, who led the conference in runs scored during the regular season, did not have enough firepower to defend their 2002 A-10 Title, losing to the Spiders 8-2.
Despite coming into the double-elimination tournament as the sixth and last seed, GW (37-18) won two early-round games to join Richmond, Massachusetts and Xavier as one of the final four teams. Richmond and Massachusetts, which beat Xavier Saturday, will play for the A-10 Championship in a best-of-three series next weekend.
The Colonials beat third-seeded Rhode Island 7-2 in the first round Thursday, setting up a second-round game against second-seeded Massachusetts the next day. The Minutemen defeated the Colonials 3-1, pitting GW against URI for a second time Friday night in the elimination bracket. The Colonials again beat the Rams 8-4, setting up Saturday’s game against Richmond.
“We played well but we just didn’t have enough,” junior reliever Dennis Gramolini said Sunday. “We would have had a chance if we could have made it to the winners’ bracket without playing Richmond.”
But the Colonials could not avoid a match-up with their nationally ranked Virginia rivals. Once the game started, the Spiders’ offense overpowered Colonial pitching, producing eight runs on 16 hits off sophomores Nate CasaGrande and Avi Rasowsky in the first eight innings.
Richmond starter Mike McGirr dominated a usually high-scoring Colonial offense, striking out eight and allowing one earned run in eight innings of work.
“Richmond is a tough team,” Gramolini said. “CasaGrande came out throwing strikes, but they had 17 hits and there wasn’t much he could do.”
Richmond (43-13) jumped on GW early in the game, scoring two runs in the second inning and adding another run in the fourth to take a 3-0 lead. The Colonials got on the board in the bottom of the inning on sophomore Brad Rosenblat’s RBI single down the right field line.
But GW was not able to close the scoring gap, as the Spiders added five more runs over the next five innings to take an 8-2 victory.
Despite losing in the tournament, Gramolini said the team was proud of its effort this season, winning 37 games with 20 underclassmen on its roster.
“We had a great year,” he said. “We won 11 in a row at one point. We may not have played up to par all the time, but coming into the season I never thought we could win as many games as we did.”
Freshman Tom Shanley had an especially impressive season, winning the A-10 Rookie of the Year award and leading the conference with a .398 batting average. Starter Dan Pfau also had a strong freshman season, going 6-0 and finishing his year by striking out 13 in GW’s third-round victory over URI.
In addition to the solid showings by underclassmen, Gramolini said the best thing about the season was the atmosphere surrounding the team.
“It wasn’t tense out there this year, we enjoyed hanging out together and we got along as a team,” he said. “My roommate (senior Greg Conden) said it was the most fun he’s had in four years.”
Friday, May 17 (Third Round)
GW 8, URI 4
Dan Pfau struck out 13 batters, the highest total by any GW pitcher this year. Pfau pitched a complete game in the victory to improve his record to 6-0.
GW overpowered the Rams with eight runs on eight hits, as Tom Shanley had two RBIs for the Colonials.
Friday, May 17 (Second Round)
UMass 3, GW 1
Greg Conden made the final start of his career against Massachusetts, giving up three runs in a loss that sent GW into the elimination bracket of the tournament. The senior hurler, who holds the GW record for career victories with 35, pitched seven innings and struck out 10.
The Colonials took an early 1-0 lead in the second inning on Ryan Roberson’s sacrifice fly, but one big play decided the game.
With two outs and the bases loaded in the second inning, UMass freshman Frank Carreri hit a three-run triple that put the Minutemen up 3-1.
Thursday, May 16 (First Round)
GW 7, URI 2
Sophomore starter Dan Sullivan pitched a complete-game two-hitter as the Colonials overpowered the Rams to open the A-10 Tournament.
GW scored seven runs on 10 hits, including three hits and one RBI by sophomore first baseman Ryan Roberson.