Walk-off saves GW from sweep

Jordan Berry barely had time to cross first base before his teammates surrounded him. The Colonials sprinted across the field, yelling and cheering as they reached their freshman first baseman, whose single through the left side scored junior catcher Jimmy Best.

The run broke a tie, ending the game in the bottom of the 13th inning, and earning GW a 3-2 victory over Canisius. Berry’s hit ended the game and the Colonials’ (10-23, 3-3 Atlantic 10) four-game losing streak, a shot of confidence that head coach Steve Mrowka said his team sorely needed.

“It was a tough weekend because we got smoked in the first two games,” Mrowka said. “To come out in a doubleheader in the third game and keep our composure, amped up, with good pitching, it’s huge for us, because we’re still trying to turn it around. We’ve been struggling part of the year, but we have some good ballplayers here.”

The victory was the second game of a Sunday doubleheader, the third game in a weekend series against Canisius that saw GW drop all but the last game to the Griffins. The Colonials fell 9-1 in Saturday’s game, despite redshirt senior Bobby Lucas recording 11 strikeouts, his second outing in a row in double-digits. Canisius used a six-run fifth inning to blow past GW, cementing its lead by adding three more runs over the eighth and ninth innings. Freshman Owen Beightol’s RBI single in the eighth put the Colonials on the board but that was the only time GW would score during the game Saturday.

The Griffins opened up play Sunday with a two-run home run off of Colonials senior pitcher Tommy Gately, extending their lead by adding three runs in the sixth and seventh innings. For the second game in a row, GW bats were held silent, with the lone run coming off a Berry RBI single. The Colonials fell 8-1 to the Griffins in game one Sunday, and nothing, it seemed, was going right for GW.

“All weekend we got pretty good pitching from our starters up to a certain point,” Mrowka said. “We just haven’t been a good comeback team, so we fall behind, we get a little demoralized.”

The third time around, though, the Colonials were first on the board. Senior centerfielder Brendon Kelliher sparked GW’s bats with a double to left field, followed by two RBI singles from Berry and freshman shortstop Brookes Townsend that put the Colonials up by two.

Canisius tied the game in the fourth, after an RBI single and a bases loaded walk earned the Griffins two runs off sophomore pitcher Brian Derner. He pitched seven innings, allowing five hits and throwing a strikeout. Freshman Aaron Weisberg came on in the eighth in relief, as the game quickly turned into a pitchers’ duel, gridlocked at two runs each. Weisberg allowed just four hits over six innings of reliefs, striking out four to earn his first career victory. A clearly passionate Weisberg screamed and high-fived his teammates as he headed off the mound each inning, buoyed by the support of the team around him.

“The defense behind me definitely helped me a lot, making plays left and right,” Weisberg said. “I lost one game this year, I was 0-1, and getting my first [win] felt great.”

Play stretched into the 13th inning before GW’s bats heated up. Best started the rally with a single to left center, followed by a double from junior infielder Ollie Mittag that sent Best to third. Berry’s single sent Best home, earning the Colonials a scrappy walk-off win.

“Trying to get the guys to stay energetic is tough. They’re tired, they’ve got homework, they’re hungry,” Mrowka said. “You just try to keep them loose, keep them focused. I thought we had a little better focus in the extra innings. We just hung tough and played hard.”

The Colonials travel to conference foe Fordham next weekend for a three-game series. Play is scheduled to start Friday, April 15, at 4 p.m. in the first game, followed by a 1 p.m. Saturday game and 6 p.m. Sunday contest.

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