For the second week in a row, a game against Georgetown has served as an identity check for the baseball team.
The team’s 8-3 loss against UMES on Tuesday was played so poorly on some accounts that it came into question how long the players’ beards would stay on their chins. It was a sloppy game with three unearned runs.
Perhaps a rivalry game was what GW needed.
“Yesterday we just played like crap,” freshman Robbie Metz said. “We wanted to come out here and prove that we weren’t like that and we were better than that. So getting a win over them, it’s good.”
The Colonials faced the same starting pitcher they faced about a week ago. Fortunately for GW, its pitcher was the same man who shut down the Hoyas last Wednesday at Tucker Field.
Again on the bump at home – fresh off his second Atlantic 10 conference Rookie of the Week honors – Metz pitched a strong seven innings of one run, six hit ball for the 5-1 win over Georgetown.
“Win, lose or draw in this game, even when it was tight and you didn’t know where it was going, we were playing good baseball,” head coach Gregg Ritchie said. “I was very happy with that. They did show some character and some resiliency to bounce back. That’s going to make a championship-level team at some point.”
Metz had to help himself out on the mound early in the game. In the third inning, GW jogged out a pitcher to warm up in the bullpen.
Metz had given up a run in the second inning courtesy of a few singles, and the batters were making solid contact and lifting the ball. In the third, his classmate and battery partner Brandon Chapman jogged out to the mound to talk to his pitcher. Metz was missing his spots. Then a relief pitcher jogged out to the bullpen, and it caught his attention. From that point on, his focus was heightened and he struck out the third out of the inning looking.
“When you see a guy go down to the bullpen, you know you’re pretty close to coming out,” Metz said. “So I tried to step up my game a little bit, get ahead in the count. Once that started happening, it started working.”
The freshman was economical, averaging 12 pitches per inning. He found his groove later in the game, with the breaking ball falling in for strikes and Metz hitting his spots with his fastball. He was also helped by a few defensive plays behind him.
Metz was hit hard in the fourth. The first batter lined one to center but the ball was tracked down. The next batter, as it started to drizzle on the overcast day in Arlington, Va., hit a double off the wall in left center. The next batter hit it hard to center, and senior Ryan Xepoleas hauled it in, hit his cutoff and nailed the runner at third for the final out of the inning.
Xepoleas performed some acrobatics in the sixth. With two outs and a 5-1 lead, he laid out, going full horizontal. The ball was destined for the Colonial Corridor in deep center field, but the GW center fielder dove, rolled over in a tuck and came up clutching the ball, arm outstretched.
The bullpen came in and threw 17 pitches in two innings, courtesy of redshirt senior Craig LeJeune and sophomore Eddie Muhl. The two certified collegiate closers split the work in the eighth and ninth innings.
On the base path, speed stole the show for the Colonials, though they also had a couple batter’s interference calls and missed execution on hit and runs. Sophomore Joey Bartosic slapped a single to left to lead off the third inning. Then the cat and mouse games began: He stole second and moved over to third on a fielder’s choice.
The game was tied at one and the three-hole hitter, sophomore Bobby Campbell, laid down a suicide squeeze to score Bartosic.
“Just execution,” Campbell said. “I knew Joey would have the sign, too, so my job was just to get it done anyway because I knew he was fast enough to get there.”
Later in the game, Campbell had a scare at first base. Metz barehanded a bunt off the mound and threw off the back foot and into the base path at first to just get the runner out to end the inning.
Campbell, a natural shortstop playing first base this year, went into the baseline to secure the ball, but the Georgetown baserunner crashed into him. His right hand was banged up after getting spiked, but he did play the remainder of the game, including stepping to the plate at the bottom of that same inning.
“There’s a whole lot of guys that would play that ball. Bobby said, ‘Here it is, I’m getting it and I know I’m going to take something,’” Ritchie said. “That really showed some serious guts to stay in there.”
Campbell expects to play Friday, when the Colonials will resume play against Manhattan, barring weather interference.