Middle-of-the-week games against nonconference opponents are typically little to worry about, especially for a team coming off a 6-0 start to conference play that has outscored conference foes 64-27 so far this season.
But after his team’s 20-6 drubbing at the hands of George Mason Wednesday, GW baseball coach Steve Mrowka seemed more than a little concerned.
“The mid-week games, no matter how close they are, you know, you get beat, you find negativity in there and you lose your momentum,” Mrowka said. “That’s always a problem, especially if you go out and you just play like crap.”
Of particular concern to Mrowka was the work of his pitchers, none of whom pitched more than two innings and all of whom gave up at least one run. Beginning with freshman starter Jeff Griffith and continuing with five more first-year players, GW pitchers walked nine George Mason batters and hit seven more, allowing the Patriots to score in all but two innings, despite collecting just three more hits than the Colonials.
“We didn’t get any pitching from our starter, and then those relievers, they walked everybody,” Mrowka said. “We didn’t really get out-hit by much. When we gave up the runs, most of them were due to walks and hit batters.”
Offensively, the biggest contributor was senior shortstop and leadoff hitter Tom Zebroski, who went 3-for-4 against the Patriots with an RBI and two runs scored. GW’s strongest offensive threat didn’t come until a four-run, six-hit outburst in the eighth inning, when the Colonials were already down 19-2.
The loss was the second in as many days for GW, which fell on the road Tuesday to Navy. The two-game skid comes just before the Colonials first Atlantic 10 road trip of the season, a three-game series set to begin Friday in Ohio against Dayton. With a half-game lead over Charlotte for first place in the A-10, short memories will be a necessity this weekend against the Flyers.
“We’re lucky enough to have tomorrow off to get our minds right, get back to where we need to be going into the weekend,” said senior first baseman Curtis Eward. “As much as these mid-week games do matter, at the end of the season it’s really how you perform in conference that decides everything.”
Eward said that even after the Colonials’ losses, he had little doubt that his teammates would be able to put this week behind them.
“We’re baseball players. Baseball is a game of failure,” Eward said. “You get a hit three times out of 10, you’re successful when you fail 70 percent of the time, so it’s just naturally ingrained in everybody.”
With the top of his rotation set to go this weekend in Dayton, Mrowka agreed that when Friday’s first pitch rolls around, Wednesday’s loss should be a speck in the rear-view mirror.
“By the time you get going, and it’s two days – and in baseball you play a game almost every day – baseball players are used to having to have control of their memory,” Mrowka said. “You go out that first inning in that first game and have a good inning, and then everything’s in the past.”