Strong offense and just enough starting pitching over the last two weeks has helped the GW baseball team get back on track after a rough start to the season. After beginning the year 2-7, the Colonials have won four in a row and 11 of their last 14 games to post a record of 13-10.
Freshman Anthony Smith has powered the Colonials’ offense, playing both first baseman and pitcher. On Wednesdy afternoon, he hit a two-run home run in the bottom of the eighth that propelled GW over Norfolk State.
The Colonials trailed 9-8 with a man on second and two outs when Smith went deep to left field. Junior Nick Koken came in and picked up his third save in the 10-9 victory.
“Anytime you have a freshman come in and play this well both on the mound and at the plate, it’s a big bonus,” GW head coach Tom Walter said. “It usually takes a year for a freshman to become productive, but he has adjusted quickly and it has made us better all the way around.”
Smith’s heroics were only made possible because the Colonials surrendered an 8-5 lead. Junior Avi Rasowsky, who has struggled all season, allowed four runs in the top of the eighth inning. The Colonials used a total of five pitchers on the day, as starter Bill Simpson lasted only one inning.
Smith went 2-for-5 on the day, collecting four RBIs, while senior Jeff Fertitta and junior Brad Rosenblat both went 1-for-4 with two RBIs.
Despite the four-game winning streak and offensive success, Walter expressed some frustration with his team’s defense, which he said has been suspect of late.
“We can still play better. We are not playing defense that well, and it’s costing us a lot of runs,” Walter said. “Today in the later innings we made some errors, and it almost cost us in a game that probably should have been a blowout. We are not good enough yet. We have to focus for all nine innings.”
On Tuesday the Colonials defeated Delaware State University 5-1. Smith threw seven scoreless innings, allowing just five hits while striking out 10 to pick up his third win of the season.
Juniors Ryan Roberson and Geoff Milsom each hit one home run in the second and third innings, respectively, to jump out to an early lead. The Colonials tacked on one run in the third, fourth and seventh innings to win easily.
Last weekend the Colonials’ defense was a problem in a three-game set against Marist College.
In the first game of a doubleheader Saturday, junior Dan Sullivan pitched six shutout innings but was unable to pick up a victory. The first batter reached in both the third and fourth on errors, and both came around to score. That proved to be the difference, as the Colonials lost 2-1.
In the second game, Josh Wilkie threw a complete game shutout in a shortened seven-inning game as GW won 5-0. The win was Wilkie’s second straight game in which he did not give up any runs.
The rubber game Sunday ended dramatically, as Rosenblat hit a walk-off, two-run homer with two outs in the ninth to give the Colonials a 13-12 victory.
Starting pitcher Dan Pfau allowed nine runs in the first three innings and found his team down 9-2. The Colonials battled back with a five-run seventh to cut the lead to 12-10 and then tacked on another run in the eighth.
Fertitta walked with two outs before Rosenblat deposited the game-winner over the left-centerfield fence.
On Thursday, March 18, GW’s bullpen could not hold back James Madison University (16-5), which scored four runs in the eighth inning to beat GW 8-7.
On the weekend of March 12, the Colonials won two games and dropped one against Cleveland State. Smith had a poor outing on the mound in a 13-9 loss Friday but drove in six RBIs on the day. In the next two games, won by GW 15-9 and 11-6, Smith knocked in another 10 runs to finish the three-game series with 16 RBIs, 11 hits and three home runs
The Colonials open conference play Saturday with a double header against University of Massachusetts (5-5).