In 1983, the Eastern Eight became the Atlantic 10 in baseball. In the subsequent 21 years, the conference has only been awarded one at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. So even though the Colonials (39-17, 17-7 A-10) are in the Top 20 in victories in all of Division I baseball, they might need an A-10 Championship to secure an NCAA regional appearance.
“We knew at the beginning of the season it was going to be tough to get in if we didn’t win the A-10,” first year head coach Steve Mrowka said. “If we go 3-2 (in the A-10 tournament) and get up to 42-43 victories we have a legitimate chance.”
GW learned firsthand about the lack of national respect A-10 baseball garners. Last season the Colonials were the only 40-win team in the nation not to make the NCAA Tournament.
Since joining the A-10, the Colonials have won three conference championships, in 1989, 1992, and 2002. Last season they fell to Rhode Island in the losers’ bracket semifinal.
“Last year they went 1-2 in the tournament and ended their year on a bad note,” Mrowka said. “If we don’t win the tournament this year, we still have a chance, not a good chance but still a slight chance. How things go around the nation will affect our chances.”
This season GW enters the A-10 tournament as No.2 seed overall and will enjoy first round bye. The Colonials clinched their second straight West division crown last weekend with a victory over Temple.
With 39 victories, the Colonials will have to overcome some familiar foes in the tournament. West Division peers Dayton, Richmond and Duquesne join the Colonials. Rhode Island is the No.1 overall seed and is also the lone A-10 team to take a series from GW during the A-10 regular season. Fordham is the final team rounding out the field of six.
The Colonials, who will play the winner of the Fordham/Richmond match-up on May 26 at Third Fifth Field in Dayton, Ohio, understand the importance of starting pitching.
“We have set that Derek Lutz will start for us in game one because he is our number one starter,” Mrowka said. “After that we will have to examine the match-ups.”
Over the next several days GW will have time to rest. The Colonials have had key injuries to their big bats – Tom Shanley, Ryan Roberson and Brad Rosenblat – this season.
Mrowka said, “We are limping in to this tournament so I hope guys can get their legs underneath them in a couple of days.”