The last three columns on the scoreboard revealed nearly everything about GW’s performance against Georgetown Tuesday.
Though both teams tallied 10 hits on the day, the Hoyas finished with 10 in the run column compared to the Colonials’ four. The “E” column explained the rest: GW committed five errors compared to Georgetown’s one. Resulting unearned runs, a total of seven, doomed the Colonials before they ever had a chance to recover.
“There was a lack of consistency, lack of focus. We were going in spurts and not playing every pitch, every inning, every at-bat, and every single play,” head coach Gregg Ritchie said. “It’s as simple as that.”
After dropping five of its last six contests, including three out of four to Penn last weekend, the struggling GW team (4-15) returned to Barcroft Park to square off against District rival Georgetown – a winner of five straight. But in its last non-conference game before opening A-10 play, GW came up short again.
The Colonials dug an early hole for themselves, and despite some more evenly matched middle innings, they could not chip away enough of the streaking Hoyas’ lead. GW suffered mental breakdowns but made physical mistakes, too. On one play, miscommunication led to a routine pop up hitting the ground right next to first base. On several others, the left side of the infield botched throws across the diamond.
By the start of the fourth inning, Georgetown had tallied eight runs, six of which came in the third. Take away that one frame, and what turned out to be a six-run game would have hypothetically headed into extra innings.
“We win the game if we play clean baseball and execute simple things,” Ritchie said. “The ability to focus through those innings, especially during the situations when the game is getting closer, we’re just not showing it.”
Though freshman pitcher Luke Olson didn’t open the game with his best stuff on the mound, sharp fielding and run support lacked as well. While Georgetown put the leadoff man on base in the three of the first four innings, the Colonials went down in 1-2-3 fashion in both the first and third. The Hoyas grabbed two runs in the first before GW snagged one of its own in the bottom of the second thanks to an RBI single from freshman catcher Matthieu Robért.
Robért, who finished 3-for-4 on the day with two RBI singles and a solo blast over the left field wall, provided three of the Colonials’ four runs. Ritchie attributed Robért’s success to his “aggression in hitter’s counts,” a trait he hopes more Colonials sluggers will incorporate into their own style.
Though GW’s hitters are walking more and striking out less than last season, of the eight hitters with 50 or more at-bats this year, only one – junior Brookes Townsend – is hitting above .250.
On Tuesday, GW batters went 10 for 38, which equates to a .263 average. Though an improvement on the .243 series average they put up against Penn last weekend, Ritchie knows that as the season goes on, more disciplined at-bats will lead to more hits.
In the final innings against the Hoyas, the Colonials surely could have benefited from a few more base knocks. Two times late in the game, GW failed to come through with two outs and bases loaded. Just one hit in one of those situations could have cracked open the game, especially considering junior pitcher Colin Milon and senior pitcher Brian Derner held Georgetown to two runs in the final six innings.
Ultimately though, the Hoyas held on, getting outs when they needed them most, their pitchers taking care of business when it mattered.
It was a game that many Colonials saw in terms of one inning, the one that drove GW into a seven-run hole. Despite some errors at crucial moments, Robért saw other pieces come together for his team.
“I don’t think we’re playing badly right now. I just think things need to come together a little bit more for us,” Robért said. “The most important game is the next one. We’re looking ahead to the UMass series and we’re ready for the A-10.”
Ritchie is confident that his staff’s coaching style will continue to get the Colonials in shape for upcoming competition, this year and into the future. It’s a no nonsense approach: If one guy messes up, loses focus or doesn’t give his all, then he will be benched.
It’s a philosophy that manifested itself well on Tuesday, when a pitcher was sent to play third base after a previous throwing error from that position.
“I’m not shy. The points will be made. And the culture will be had,” Ritchie said. “And the future is bright for those reasons.”
Barring unplayable field conditions in Amherst, Mass. that could move the series to Barcroft Park, the Colonials will head to Massachusetts this weekend for their first conference series of the season.