The ribbon was cut, the first pitch hurled and new head coach Gregg Ritchie claimed his post against the fence at the near end of the Colonials’ dugout.
In GW’s inaugural series at Barcroft Park, amid partly sunny skies, the stage was set for the home team to succeed.
After dropping six consecutive road games to open the season, the Colonials (0-9) returned to Arlington with all eyes on rectifying the goose egg in its 2013 win column, claiming their first victory and regaining some crucial early season confidence.
But Quinnipiac had an agenda of its own, spoiling the good vibes that lingered in the stadium until the end of the weekend. Dominant Bobcats pitching held GW to just five runs over the first two games, and clutch hitting came through for them late in the third. The Colonials fell 8-3, 4-2 and 4-3 in game three, ultimately departing Barcroft on Sunday as victims of a third consecutive sweep.
“This shouldn’t be a disappointment. It should be something that drives these guys to get better everyday,” Ritchie said.
Allowing early leads proved lethal in the first two games for GW. The Colonials’ pitching surrendered six runs in the first five frames on Friday afternoon, rendering an offensive comeback a difficult task for a struggling lineup. Despite GW plating one runner in the fourth, the eighth and then again in the home half of the ninth, the deficit remained at five when the Bobcats recorded the final out of the game.
Game two on Saturday was preceded by the official opening ceremonies for the park, an exciting moment for a GW team that played all of last season amid noise and construction.
As soon as the festivities subsided though, Quinnipiac’s bats resumed where they left off, tagging GW for a run in the first, second, and two in fourth. Though freshman Luke Staub fanned six batters through seven innings of work, run support from his teammates was minimal. GW stranded two runners in the sixth and failed to accumulate base runners in the frames that followed.
Game two ended a lot like game one, with the Colonials falling short of overcoming their opponent’s early run production.
“It’s not about wanting it or badly wanting it, it’s about playing consistent baseball and getting a win,” Ritchie said. “It doesn’t matter whether you have ten wins or ten losses. You want to win every day.”
For the majority of the game Sunday, GW avoided the issues that prevented the team’s success during the first two games of the series. Freshman Max Kaplow, starting on the mound for his third time this season, put together one of the best pitching performances of the year, keeping the Bobcats scoreless through five innings and striking out seven Bobcats before he left the hill in the ninth.
In terms of offense, the Colonials were the ones who got out in front early. After a double from senior infielder Matthew Murakami in the bottom of the third, freshman catcher Matthieu Robért ripped an RBI single that put GW on top 1-0. After the Bobcats tied it in the sixth with a run of their own, senior first baseman Derek Brown drove in the go-ahead run with a double down the line that put the Colonials back up 2-1.
Though GW only needed three outs in the top of the ninth to hold the Bobcats at bay, two consecutive walks set up a huge inning for Quinnipiac. After a triple scored the two runners on base, the Bobcats scored one more on a sacrifice fly, ultimately returning to the dugout with a 4-2 edge.
The Colonials struck within one run in the bottom of the ninth after a Tyler McCarthy ground ball scored freshman shortstop Nolan Lodden. But with two outs and a runner on third, GW failed to bring the tying run to the plate. Kaplow, who displayed mixed feelings about his own performance, said his team is putting in the work but just not seeing the results yet.
“The effort put on by this team is remarkable,” Kaplow said. “But wanting isn’t everything. The physical and the effort is definitely there, but I just think there’s a certain mental block that we need to break through.”
Ritchie, on the other hand, pointed to consistency. Once the Colonials can become more consistent in game-deciding situations, he said, his team will see better results.
“You play game speed practice for some of the things that created issues for you – bunt plays, or some at bats with two strikes – but you just keep going with the same routine that you know is correct,” Ritchie said. “You just create consistency with it.”