After pulling back to within a game of first-place Charlotte with a win Saturday, the GW baseball team fell apart defensively on Sunday, falling 8-5 to the 49ers and slipping back into a tie for second in the Atlantic 10.
Charlotte scored early and in bunches on the Colonials (21-19, 10-5 A-10), putting up two runs in the second and three in the fourth. GW withstood the early offensive barrage of the 49ers, keeping pace with Charlotte by scoring once each in the first, second, fourth and fifth innings. The 49ers pulled ahead for good in the sixth when they scored another three runs, putting away the Colonials for the remainder of the game.
GW and Charlotte split the first two games of the three-game series, with GW winning Saturday on the back of junior starter Eric Cantrell, who scattered four runs and 10 hits over eight innings of work. The Colonials dropped the opening game of the series on Friday after a three-run Charlotte eighth inning broke a 4-4 tie.
The Colonials struggled defensively in the series finale, tying their season high with five errors and allowing three unearned runs. GW head coach Steve Mrowka said it was the defensive misplays that ultimately cost his team the game and its shot at tying Charlotte for the A-10’s top spot.
“We made those errors and that killed us,” Mrowka said. “In these series you need to come to play every day. You can’t make mistakes like that. You have to make plays.”
Junior Brendon Kelliher, who went 2-for-3 with two runs and two RBIs on Sunday, agreed that it was the Colonials’ defense that betrayed them against Charlotte.
“It’s hard to say how the game could have gone if the ball hopped one way or another, but defensively we’ll try to improve,” Kelliher said. “I wouldn’t say we played bad defense, but it’s just working on the little things.”
Kelliher and his teammate, sophomore Chris Luick, were GW’s offensive stars in the loss. Like Kelliher, Luick also went 2-for-3 in the game and drove in two runs. Kelliher also hit GW’s only home run of the game in the second inning, briefly tying the score at two. Senior Tom Zebroski, who had the toughest day in the field of any Colonial with three errors at shortstop, went 2-for-5 at the plate.
One bright spot for the Colonials was the work of junior pitcher Tommy Gately, who didn’t allow a hit and gave up just one walk in three and two-thirds innings of relief. Junior Joe Richardson started for GW and gave up seven runs in five innings, although only four of them were earned. Mrowka said he was impressed with the work of both Colonials.
“The bright spot today was our pitching,” Mrowka said. “Richardson started and threw well, and Tom Gately did great with three shutout innings.”
With the team headed into a game against William & Mary Wednesday and a three-game road trip to A-10 opponent Massachusetts next weekend, Kelliher stressed the importance continued focus.
“We have some tough opponents coming up, going into the next games,” he said, “so we have to put this behind us.”