The bases were loaded with Georgetown runners in the eighth inning Tuesday as GW baseball coach Steve Mrowka made his way to the mound for a pitching change in hopes of preserving his team’s three-run lead. He pointed to his left arm to summon junior southpaw Bobby Lucas to collect the inning’s final two outs and stop the bleeding.
Lucas described the situation he entered as “a little nerve-wracking,” particularly against an intra-city rival that had handily defeated the Colonials less than a week before. But after taking his warmup pitches to the tune of Nas’ “Hero” – a song Lucas said he was unaware was playing – the 6-foot-3 hurler settled his nerves and assumed the song’s titular role, fanning his first batter and allowing only one of three inherited runners to score, ultimately preserving a 5-3 GW victory at Barcroft Park in Arlington.
“I felt like I had good momentum after I struck out the first guy,” Lucas said after the game. “Most of the time you throw the ball in there, they’re not going to get a hit, so all I had to worry about was throwing strikes.”
Lucas’ save, his first of the season, was the final leg of GW’s (11-13, 1-2 Atlantic 10) four-part pitching relay that began with junior Ryan Lapointe, normally one of the team’s go-to relievers. Lapointe (W, 2-1) surrendered consecutive extra-base hits in the first inning to allow the Hoyas’ initial run, but would hold them scoreless over the next four frames while striking out five.
“After the first inning I was fine,” the New Hampshire native said. “I kept the ball down, started getting some calls. The changeup was working a lot for me, kept them off balance.”
Lapointe left with the lead thanks to his team’s fifth-inning rally that broke what had been a 1-1 tie. Junior Brandon Gillette and freshman Ryan Thomas reached base to begin the inning, with the former scoring the go-ahead run after beating the throw to the plate on junior Chris Holland’s groundball to third base.
Hulking senior Tim Reeves followed with a sky-high, opposite-field double down the leftfield line that scored Thomas and Holland to give the Colonials a 4-1 advantage.
Freshman Jay Lively then took the mound, helping bridge the gap between lead and victory with two shutout innings in the ninth appearance of his collegiate career. Senior Jimmy Duggan took the reigns to begin the eighth inning, plunking the first batter he faced and never appearing to find his groove before getting into the jam that Lucas managed to escape in his stead.
The win over the Hoyas makes this the fourth straight season in which the two teams have split their two-game series, with Georgetown having bested GW 15-3 March 18. The splits have had a familiar symmetry to them – in the last three years neither team has managed to claim victory on the other’s home field.
The rivalry between the two teams provided added significance to Tuesday’s game, but as the consistently chilling breeze reminded those in attendance, the spring is young. The Colonials have played just three of their eventual 27 games in A-10 play, meaning their most important games remain ahead of them.
“We seem like we’re coming together a little bit but we’ve got to be more consistent,” Mrowka said. “I can’t ask for much more out of them. They’ve got a positive attitude and they’re working hard.”
GW continues its home stand with a three-game series against Richmond beginning Friday at the Colonials’ home field in Arlington, Va. The first pitch is scheduled for 3 p.m.