This post was written by Hatchet senior staff writer Josh Solomon.
What: Baseball (3–3 A-10) vs. George Mason (2-7 A-10), Conference Series
Where: Tucker Field at Barcroft Park, Arlington, Va.
When: Friday, April 15 at 3 p.m.; Saturday, at 1 p.m.; Sunday, at 12 p.m.
Sitting in the middle of the conference – tied for sixth – GW is not exactly where they want to be heading into a big home series against George Mason. A series against the Patriots at home though move the Colonials in the right direction, though.
GW lost its last series to Davidson, falling in the series rubber match 8-7, when the bullpen couldn’t follow up a strong start.
The injuries are layered. Besides the season-long issue of not having enough healthy arms, two of the team’s top hitters are now injured – sophomore Mark Osis (pulled hamstring) and junior Kevin Mahala (hip flexor).
“With Osis and Mahala in the position they’re in right now, it definitely has put us in a precarious position defensively and offensively in terms of the length of the lineup,” head coach Gregg Ritchie said after the Davidson series last weekend. “Combining that with pitching stuff since day one of the season, it’s a challenge, but the guys are doing some really good things.”
The good news is Tuesday’s 10-2 road win over Towson indicates the team may be closer to being healthy.
The two highlights were Osis pinch hitting (and walking on seven pitches) and sophomore Robbie Metz getting the start (4.0 innings, seven hits, two runs, three strikeouts, 78 pitches). And Mahala may even play in the field this weekend, Ritchie said.
A healthier team against a weaker George Mason team could be the formula for success for GW this weekend.
Case for the Colonials:
If the starters can continue their dominance, and the Colonials’ bats can continue their hot hitting, GW should have a shot at a sweep.
The difference this weekend is sophomore Brady Renner will likely be lengthened out to the 80 plus pitch region, and be able to give GW the length they need to win. Still recovering from a back shoulder strain, Renner is about a start or two away from being fully stretched out.
And if GW can get Osis and Mahala more at-bats, the team can be as strong as they were when they scored 19 runs against local powerhouse Maryland last month.
Look for junior Bobby Campbell to stay hot, after batting .571 in the Davidson series, and going 4-5 with three runs scored, two driven in and one home run against Towson. And junior Joey Bartosic should start to show his midseason form, after collecting five hits and scoring four runs last weekend.
Also, Sunday is Bark at Barcroft, when fans can bring their dogs to the park. A big crowd typically doesn’t hurt the home team.
Case for the Patriots:
In the three years Ritchie coached the Colonials, his team is 3-5 against George Mason. The last two years, GW has lost the season series.
This season though, George Mason is off to a rough start in conference. The Patriots lost 2-of-3 to Dayton (3-6) this past weekend, in Fairfax, Va. In the battle of the two bottom teams of the division, they were badly beaten at home – 2-9 in the first game and 6-9 in the third game.
The one game they won though was the middle game of the series, 8-2, on the performance of sophomore Joe Williams. He went 8.0 innings, giving up seven hits but only one run, while striking out seven. He will likely matchup with GW’s Shane Sweeney on Saturday and could be Mason’s best chance at preventing a sweep or perhaps swinging the momentum of the series their way.
The Patriots’ top hitter this year, sophomore Brady Acker, went a combined 3-11, with two RBI and two runs scored against GW last year. This season Acker is batting a team-high .352, in 14 games played and started, including two home runs and 10 RBI.
The bottom line:
GW needs to come to the ballpark healthy this weekend. The Colonials are averaging 3.8 runs a game in conference play, while the Patriots are averaging 3.4 runs a game. If Mahala can play the field in at least one game and Osis can get in the lineup, the Colonials should have the depth, the offensive power and the starting pitching to pull off a sweep this weekend or at the very least an A-10 series win.