By the top of the second inning Sunday at Barcroft Park, baseball had staked an early 1-0 lead, and was on its way to a 6-3 win over Saint Joseph’s.
Senior Tom Gately, GW’s starting pitcher, however, yanked the cap off his head after seizing the ball back from the catcher. He couldn’t seem to get a grip on his pitches.
“That was definitely frustrating,” Gately said. After walking two and hitting one batter by a pitch in the first inning, Gately continued to miss the strike zone. In order to remedy his early struggles, Gately decided to make an adjustment.
“Instead of being super precise, I just had to throw to zones; just pretty much attacking the whole strike zone,” he said.
Gately went on to pitch six innings of one-run ball. He also managed to strike out seven Hawks, despite surrendering four walks and two hit batters. Sunday marked Gately’s first career start in Atlantic 10 conference play, and head coach Steve Mrowka blamed nerves for Gately’s control problems.
“He came out that first inning overthrowing a little bit,” Mrowka said. “The key is: You get two outs, you keep your composure, then you get the third out – they don’t score.”
“You can bend, you don’t break. You leave guys out there, you can win a ball game. That’s the science of it all,” he added.
Gately had toed the rubber earlier in the week, when GW succumbed to a perfect game at the hands of top ranked Virginia. On Sunday, Gately knew the importance of finding his zone early.
“If we go a few innings without getting a hit, you can sometimes already see it set in,” Gately said, citing GW’s offensive woes. “For me as a pitcher, I definitely have to come up and throw zeros early in the game,” he added.
During the first two games of the weekend series against Saint Joseph’s, the scoreboard flashed few zeros. GW claimed a 6-5 victory Friday on the shoulders of senior Brendon Kelliher’s five RBIs. Tumultuous weather highlighted Saturday’s game, a 9-5 GW loss in which the bullpen took the reins after a stoppage of play, and promptly surrendered a grand slam. The home run squandered an 11-strikeout performance by starting pitcher Bobby Lucas.
“Yesterday, it was a shame. Bobby Lucas has never pitched that well. He was dominating. I mean, 11 strikeouts in five innings. They couldn’t touch him,” Mrowka said. “On a normal day, I mean that’s a fly ball to left field, probably. But with a 100 mile-an-hour wind and hail, it goes into the trees, and it’s a grand slam.”
“This is a war of attrition,” yelled a member of the GW bench Sunday, before the bottom half of the fourth inning, the score locked at 1-0. GW issued a salvo soon thereafter. With two men on, after an RBI groundout, freshman Owen Beightol scalded a liner beyond the reach of Saint Joseph’s left-fielder for a two-run double, and a 4-0 GW lead.
In the top of the fourth inning, Mrowka had substituted in Beightol at first base. Although he currently leads the team with nine doubles and 17 RBIs, prior to his breakthrough at-bat, Beightol had been mired in a prolonged hitting slump.
“The last couple of days we gave him the opportunity to have a different vantage point by sitting on the bench,” Mrowka said, “Hopefully we can get him back in there swinging the stick.”
Sophomore Tyler McCarthy entered to pitch the final out of the game. He allowed one hit before inducing a fly ball. As soon as left fielder Stephen Oswald squeezed the ball in his glove, GW had clinched its first series victory of the season.
“The guys wanted this,” Mrowka said, “That’s how we look at it each weekend. Go in there and try to win two out of three.”
Next, the Colonials travel to George Mason Tuesday, April 5, for a 3 p.m. game before returning to Arlington to host the Patriots Wednesday, April 6, at 3 p.m.