The GW men’s baseball team opened Atlantic 10 play by winning two of three games over Massachusetts this weekend. The series win served as a small form of revenge for the Colonials, who were knocked out of the conference tournament by the Minutemen last year.
At Barcroft Park Sunday, the Colonials (15-11, 2-1 A-10) pounded out nine runs on 11 hits to win 9-4, and were led once again by star freshman Anthony Smith.
With the game tied 4-4 in the fifth inning, the Colonials loaded the bases for Smith, who hit his first career grand slam to open up the game. It was an opportune time for his first hit of the series, which was his seventh home run of the year.
“I had been struggling the last two games, but we had been charting the pitcher so I knew I was going to get something off-speed,” Smith said. “When he threw it, I just made good contact with it. It felt good because I was trying to get out of the slump.”
The Colonials’ bullpen came to the aid of sophomore starter Dan Pfau, who only lasted two and two-thirds innings. Freshman Derek Lutz came in and allowed two runs (one earned) in four innings of work, and junior Avi Rasowsky pitched two and two-thirds scoreless innings to close the door on the Minutemen (6-7, 1-2 A-10).
Sophomore Tom Shanley went 3-for-5 while driving in two runs, and junior Ryan Roberson hit his eighth home run of the season while going 2-for-4 with two RBIs.
The victory was the Colonials’ sixth win in their last seven games.
“I think we have been able to come together (over the last few weeks),” Smith said. “We have been able to gel and everything has been going smoothly. We have made clutch hits and we have focused more in our at bats.”
On Saturday the Colonials split a double-header to open the A-10 schedule. In the first game, Colonials pitcher Dan Sullivan had one of his strongest outings of the season, allowing one run on just four hits while striking out nine in a complete game 4-1 win. It was Sullivan’s second win on the year.
With the Colonials leading 1-0 in the third inning, Shanley led off with a single, junior Anthony Raglani followed with a walk, and Roberson took the first pitch he saw over the wall for a three-run homer, his seventh of the season. UMass scored one run in the sixth inning but never seriously threatened.
Game two of the doubleheader featured a strong pitching match-up between GW sophomore Josh Wilkie and the Minutemen’s Matt Torra. The Colonials came up short, losing 2-1.
First-inning defense proved to be pivotal in the game. Junior Geoff Milsom, the Colonials’ shortstop, made an error that allowed one runner to reach first base and another runner to score.
Then Wilkie threw a wild pitch that allowed another UMass run, giving the Minutemen a 2-0 lead. That was all UMass needed, as Torra controlled the Colonials, striking out nine while allowing just one run on eight hits.
GW mounted some offense in the ninth, scoring one run, but the Minutemen called in closer Scott Ratcliff, who struck out two with the tying run on third.
Wilkie, who picked up the loss, allowed just three hits while allowing no earned runs and striking out four. The loss ended the Colonials’ five-game winning streak.
The Colonials will face the University of Delaware (13-9) Tuesday at Barcroft Park.