PHILADELPHIA – Just because conference play is here doesn’t mean everything is settled.
The Colonials tweaked their playing schedule due to winter weather on the Saint Joseph’s campus in Philadelphia, then altered the pitching rotation to start freshman Robbie Metz and junior Bobby LeWarne in games one and two of a doubleheader Sunday. They shuffled the lineup, moving Metz into the three-hole from his traditional spot batting second, sophomore Eli Kashi from the bottom third to second, and sophomore Bobby Campbell into cleanup.
Two games later, not much more had been settled. The only sure thing was that the Colonials had brought back a win and a loss from their conference-opening series, topping the Hawks 2-1 in the first game – a relative pitchers’ duel – and falling in a fruitless game of catch-up 6-0 in the second.
“The difference in the game really is the pitcher sets the tempo,” head coach Gregg Ritchie said. “If you’re a little bit all over, you’re walking guys and you’re missing some pitches and giving them multiple runs, sometimes it can put you on the heels a little bit. We have to get past that. Where we’re playing a doubleheader, you win and we have a chance to sweep and we don’t play up to that ability.”
In a tense first game, sophomore Andrew Selby turned out to be the hero for the second straight game for the Colonials, driving in the go-ahead run. This time his heroics came in the eighth inning when he scored Metz with a slap single off the Hawks’ first relief pitcher.
GW would go onto win 2-1, with Metz getting the no-decision after his start. He went 5.1 innings, scattering six hits for one run on two walks and three strikeouts. He hit his first batter of the season and gave up his first walk of the season. Although the command wasn’t as on as usual, he held a one-run lead into the sixth inning.
“He didn’t have his special stuff, but again he’s a competitor, he knows how to pitch, he gets after it,” Ritchie said.
The sixth inning started with a ball that went just out Campbell’s reach at third and rolled to sophomore shortstop Kevin Mahala on the fringe of the infield. A passed ball put the runner in scoring position and a double to center allowed him to score.
But then freshman Brady Renner, Craig LeJeune – who picked up the victory – and Eddie Muhl – who got the save – locked it down.
Mahala and sophomore Joey Bartosic miscommunicated for a shallow fly ball to left field, which fell between them to load the bases. A sharp grounder to Campbell at the hot corner was thrown home for the second out of the inning, but the baserunner took out the catcher to prevent an inning-ending double play. The next play was a screaming line drive down the right field line, right into the glove of senior Brookes Townsend.
Out of the bullpen, LeJeune would pick up the victory and Muhl the save, but each ran into his own fair share of trouble. Muhl finished the game with a breaking ball strikeout, but only after another corner line drive grab and a couple foul balls way down the line.
After a nail-biting first game in the doubleheader, the second started off with more crooked numbers on the stat sheet.
LeWarne started, after he was originally slated for Friday’s opener, and was hit hard early and often. In the first inning, the Atlantic 10’s leader in dingers John Brue hit his sixth home run of the season – a two-run blast to right center. In the second, a liner carried by the wind went over toward the Hawks’ bullpen and into the snow piled off the field.
“Bobby and I have talked about it a bit. We’re trying to find a way to get him through his first two, three inning woes because it’s very consistent,” Ritchie said. “Once he gets past that, he’s lights out.”
Saint Joseph’s would tack on another run in the eighth off the Colonials bullpen with hard hit balls in the gap.
GW had chances to creep back in. Bartosic and Metz were on the corners with one out in the sixth. The Hawks were expecting Metz to go, but he held and Campbell grounded into a double play. Campbell also checked his swing to strike out looking in the top of the eighth with runners on first and second and the team still down five.
That was the last shot for GW in the second game and final of the series. With the cancellation of Friday’s game, both teams will finish their respective seasons a game short in conference play.
GW will host the Bonnies for their A-10 home opener this coming weekend, but first will travel to Baltimore to play Coppin State on Tuesday and return home to play Delaware State on Wednesday. Junior Shane Kemp, who was supposed to get a start this weekend, is the probable starter for Tuesday, followed by Renner on Wednesday.