Joe Richardson’s senior season was in a jam.
The pitcher had been demoted earlier this season to the bullpen after four poor outings as the team’s No. 2 starting pitcher, and Saturday, he entered as the third reliever in the fifth inning as the Colonials clung to a 6-5 lead against Massachusetts in a doubleheader finale.
Minutemen hitters had battered GW relievers in both games but Richardson shut the door, inducing a ground-out and a fly-out to strand the tying run on third base.
The Colonials – and Richardson – were out of a jam.
“I got into some trouble but that’s where I work best,” Richardson said. “I’ve gotten into some rough patches before this year but now I think of this as a new season for me.”
Richardson, who transferred from Saddleback College in California two years ago, sparkled in four and one-third innings of scoreless relief to earn the 10-5 win, his first of the season. GW snapped its own eight-game losing streak and salvaged the final game in the opening series of their Atlantic 10 schedule.
GW hitters also added punch Saturday with junior left fielder Stephen Oswald and sophomore right fielder Tyler McCarthy combining for seven hits and seven RBIs hitting back-to-back in the game-two lineup.
“Some days our sticks will show up and some days our pitchers will show up. We hadn’t really put it on the same page yet,” McCarthy said. “Early in that second game, we were hitting the ball, but we weren’t getting the best luck on the mound. Then Joe came in and shut it down.”
In game one Saturday, GW starting pitcher Bobby Lucas’ strong outing was foiled when the Minutemen tacked on three unanswered runs in the eighth and ninth innings against GW relievers.
But after suffering the late-inning defeat in the first game, it was the Colonials’ timely hitting that was most important in the early innings of the second game.
After Oswald collected an RBI single in the first inning, McCarthy doubled him home. The next inning, Oswald, who also hit a three-run homerun in the first game, stung an RBI double to left field, which scored freshman second baseman Owen Beightol.
“We kind of lost a heartbreaker in the first game, and to come out and rack up runs early was crucial. All the momentum was in our dugout, and our pitchers weren’t afraid to go after people,” Oswald said.
After Richardson sustained the lead in the fifth and sixth innings, the GW (7-17, 1-2 A-10) offense tacked on insurance runs, capitalizing on mistakes by UMass, which committed five errors in the game.
Beightol hustled in the sixth inning to turn UMass shortstop Josh Messier’s error into two bases, and scored on McCarthy’s infield hit. McCarthy’s two-run homerun in the eighth inning sealed the streak-snapping win.
“It’s a testament to the mental toughness of this ball club. We blew a lead late in the first game, and a lot of lesser teams would have conceded,” GW hitting coach Tim Brown said. “It shows you what we’re capable of, and now it’s just a matter of doing it on a consistent basis.”
The Colonials will test that consistency in Charlottesville, Va., Tuesday against third-ranked Virginia. They will then continue with their A-10 schedule in a weekend series against Saint Joseph’s at home next weekend.
“This game is going to help us,” Richardson said. “We have a young team and we all work off of momentum.”
This article appeared in the March 28, 2011 issue of the Hatchet.