Despite streak, baseball misses playoffs

ARLINGTON, Va., May 19 – Freshman pitcher Ryan Lapointe could not have gotten off to a worse start in the GW baseball team’s 6-2 Senior Day win over Duqesne Saturday.

The New Hampshire native’s second pitch of the game struck leadoff batter Anthony Manley in the head, knocking him out cold (he would leave the game on his own power). From there, Lapointe seemed to unravel, allowing four of the next five batters to reach base, leaving GW (23-31-1, 14-13 Atlantic 10) down 2-0 with the bases loaded full of Dukes and just one out in the first.

“Get a ground ball here and we’re out of it!,” an optimistic Colonial pleaded from the infield.

Lapointe granted his teammate’s request, inducing a ready-made double play ball to the second basemen. Just like that, he was out of it.

“That was a big play,” Lapointe said after the game. “I was just trying to get a ground ball and get ahead in the count.It’s always big to get out of a bases loaded jam, especially in the first inning.”

Lapointe was “lights out,” as GW coach Steve Mrowka put it, in his remaining five innings of work, and the Dukes did not score the rest of the game.

“That got our momentum going and I was able to carry it through the rest of the game,” Lapointe said of the double play.

With Duquesne’s offense safely held in check, GW’s bats went to work. The Colonials scored four runs in the third inning, one in the fourth on junior Gavin Swanson’s ninth home run and one in the fifth.

The win, GW’s sixth straight, was not enough to earn it a berth into next week’s A-10 tournament. The conference’s top six teams make the tournament, but GW’s 14-13 conference record left it one half game back of sxith-place St. Bonaventure. It is the first time GW has missed the playoffs since 1999.

“It’s disappointing not to make the tournament but you always want to end the season on a good note, and we won our last six (games), so it feels pretty good,” Mrowka said.

The season-ending winning streak may be a sign of things to come, as the Colonials will lose just four seniors. Senior infielder Michael Parker, who led the team in average, hits, runs and runs batted in, said GW’s young players struggled against nationally-ranked competition early in the season but adjusted to the higher level of play at the end of the season.

“They’ll come back next year and make the tournament,” Parker said of his teammates.

Winning on Senior Day was important to Mrowka and Lapointe, they said, but Parker downplayed the significance of winning his last collegiate game.

“It’s always nice to win,” he said.

GW’s National Champion: GW student Jennifer Bodine won the Division II US Collegiate Cycling National Championship Criterium in Lawrence, Kan., May 13. Bodine’s time of one hour, three minutes and 30 seconds was best in the field of 36. Look for more on Bodine in June’s CI Guide, on newsstands June 20.

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