This post was written by Hatchet senior staff writer Josh Solomon.
Junior Kevin Mahala lined one, six feet high, with enough oomph to split the outfield and shoot for the gap.
The tying run was standing 90 feet away and the go-ahead run stood at second.
Davidson’s second baseman made the diving grab on designated hitter Mahala’s scorcher. One more out later and the eighth inning three-run rally was over. GW still trailed by one in the conference rubber match.
A few more outs later and the game was over, 8-7. The series was over with it: GW dropped to 3-3 overall in the Atlantic 10 after losing two-of-three on the road to the Wildcats.
“In the last three years, this is the best offense we’ve ever had,” head coach Gregg Ritchie said. “There’s not a lot of games you lose when you get 15 hits and seven runs and commit zero errors. So it is a tough one to swallow, but at the same time and I’ll say it right now, our guys had really great intensity level. If we repeat that and play with that intensity all the way, we’ll be OK.”
GW had won the first game with a solid performance by senior Bobby LeWarne, who picked up his fourth win of the season against the Wildcats (7-2). It seemed the Colonials stood a good chance to pick up another conference series victory – a week after defeating La Salle (2-4) at home.
GW couldn’t sweep the Explorers because of bullpen issues, though, and this week the Colonials couldn’t pick up the series win against Davidson because of more bullpen issues. They also had problems with their infield and the team’s sudden lack of depth.
“[Shane] Sweeney pitched well, LeWarne pitched well, [Brady] Renner dominated. The starting situation is good with those three for now, but it’s just a matter of how we’re going to utilize the other guys,” Ritchie said.
There aren’t many other guys to utilize, though. The current health situation for the Colonials is as follows:
GW is still down four arms, all of whom will not be back this season.
Sophomore Brady Renner is back and healthy from a back shoulder strain. He threw a season-high 64 pitches Sunday, going 4.1 innings and giving up three runs on three hits and three walks.
Mahala, normally the starting shortstop, is still nursing a hip flexor injury but has resumed some infield practice and running activities. Mahala legged out a double this weekend in DH duties.
Sophomore Mark Osis, who was leading the team in most offensive categories before suffering a pulled hamstring the week leading up to GW’s A-10 opener, is on a similar timetable to Mahala. He may even see time at DH this coming week against George Mason, particularly if Mahala can play one game in the field.
With all those injuries, GW has less ability to be creative.
Sophomore Robbie Metz was not going to pitch Sunday, like he did last Sunday from the bullpen, because the team needed more depth in the infield.
Metz played the first game of his college career at shortstop on Sunday. Both Metz and junior Eli Kashi are natural shortstops. Kashi swung back over to third after filling filling the hole for the injured Mahala at shortstop. GW then filled second base with a combination of junior Colin Gibbons-Fly and senior Andy Young.
The arrangement worked better than GW’s did Saturday, when Sweeney’s solid start was spoiled by poor defense on the third base side.
“Quite honestly, we made three errors they didn’t even give us,” Ritchie said. “They were responsible for five runs.”
And it would be great for the team to get Metz on the mound, but with infield defense becoming paramount, the priorities have shifted.
“We gotta get Metz going, gotta get him back on the mound, but it’s hard to do that when you don’t have anybody who can play the field right now. You see the dilemma there, right?” Ritchie said.
Sunday’s game, though, was still winnable.
Renner left the game with the lead. Senior Jacob Williams came in relief. This is the second week in a row that Williams did not start, but rather came in relief to piggyback Renner. Each week he has run into trouble early. Williams would strike out the first batter he faced, a matchup Ritchie liked, but would give up a two RBI triple to right center to the next.
In the next inning, Williams would give up a leadoff double and then a single up the middle. Freshman Jordan Friedman came in relief and struck out a batter, but would give up a bases loaded triple. The sixth inning would end with five runs in for the Wildcats.
Metz was never available to pitch because the team needed him in the field at shortstop.
GW did battle back in the eighth, but the liner caught off of Mahala’s bat would prove to be the last scare.
“I think I’m seeing them turn the tide a little bit, in terms of playing at a more regular, consistent energy level as well,” Ritchie said. “They’re realizing there are things we’re up against that most teams typically aren’t up against and they’re just deciding to embrace it now and go get it.”
Game 1: GW 3, Davidson 2
Bobby LeWarne gave up one run in the first, but didn’t allow another run until the seventh inning. He would go 7.1 innings, scattering nine hits for the two runs on 113 pitches.
What has turned into the usual bullpen combo of Justin Friedman to junior Eddie Muhl closed out the game. Friedman stranded a baserunner in the eighth. Muhl escaped trouble in the ninth, leaving two on base to earn his eighth save of the season.
Junior Bobby Campbell went 3-5 at the plate, with two RBI singles in the first and third.
Game 2: GW 4, Davidson 7
Shane Sweeney’s final line doesn’t read too well: 5.0 plus innings pitched, allowing 11 hits, seven runs, all earned. Ritchie says that poor defense on the left side of the infield, manned by junior Cody Bryant at third base and Eli Kashi at shortstop, cost them. He credits five runs to the misplayed balls by the defense.
Senior Luke Olson finished the final three frames, keeping the bullpen fresh for the series rubber match.
Campbell stayed hot, going 2-4 with a two-out RBI single in the fifth.
Game 3: GW 7, Davidson 8
The Colonials were up 4-1 headed into the fifth inning, at which point Brady Renner had just about reached his pitch count limit, as he continues to rehab a back shoulder strain.
GW would give up seven runs on six hits in consecutive innings to eventually lose the game and the series.
In the eighth inning, GW would score three runs, but leave two on base in scoring position, following a hard lineout by Mahala and a fly out by sophomore Brandon Chapman.
Campbell went 3-5, with two more RBIs, batting .571 in the series and driving in five runs. Mahala also knocked in two runs. Sophomore Matt Cosentino, getting the start in left, went 4-5 with three runs scored.
Up Next: GW will play at Towson, Tuesday at 3:30 p.m. Robbie Metz is a potential starter for the midweek game.
The Colonials will then host George Mason in an important A-10 series. First pitch Friday is scheduled for 3 p.m. Saturday’s game is at 1 p.m. and then Sunday’s Bark at Barcroft game, the annual bring-your-dog-to-the-stadium day, is at noon.