Two weeks ago, it seemed baseball had hit a wall: The team’s starting shortstop, junior Kevin Mahala, was stuck as a designated hitter working through a hip flexor injury, and GW’s most dominant hitter this season, sophomore Mark Osis, was out recovering from a pulled hamstring.
Now, after taking a series they desperately needed to stay atop the Atlantic 10, the Colonials are poised to make a run at the league crown next month.
On Sunday, GW’s offense was the spark plug lifting the Colonials to a 6–2 victory. Though head coach Gregg Ritchie got a little help from everyone on the team, it was juniors Eric Ramsey and Joey Bartosic in particular that put GW in position to do some damage.
“It was a must-win. We had to have it,” Ritchie said. “In the third inning, all of our guys came up big. Ramsey, in particular, was huge coming up with the triple to push the lead to 6-0.”
The Colonials (19-23, 8-4 A-10) broke it open in the third inning as Osis kicked things off with an RBI single. Though Osis has not shown much power, he has been a singles machine for Ritchie’s ball club, adding three hits in Friday night’s 4–2 win in game one.
Mahala, who leads GW with 37 RBIs, hit a sacrifice fly with the bases loaded, and junior Bobby Campbell plated another to put the Colonials up 4–0.
Fresh off of an A-10 Player of the Week nod, Campbell has been pivotal for the Colonials by keeping GW’s offense on pace with Mahala and Osis limited by injuries. In A-10 contests, Campbell owns a team-leading on-base percentage (.524), batting average (.390) and RBI total (12).
After the Flyers (14-27, 5-10 A-10) made a pitching change, Ramsey laced a double to the right-center gap, pushing two more runs across to put the Colonials up 6–0 in the top of the third.
Bartosic, who contributed an RBI in the six-run inning, went an impressive 4-for-5 at the plate Sunday to lead his team offensively.
On the mound, GW got four strong innings out of sophomore starter Brady Renner, who had a tough outing the previous weekend against George Mason.
Renner ran into trouble in the second inning but was able to strike out Dayton’s nine-hitter with the bases loaded. In the fifth inning, senior Jacob Williams came in to maintain the lead. Dayton, a young team still finding its mojo in league play, managed 10 hits against GW’s pitching but only mustered two runs.
“The amount of energy our guys had was utterly extreme,” he also said. “It was so loud in the dugout that I had to get in the ear of my assistants so that I could hear them. Our guys really want to win.”
Game 1:GW 4, Dayton 2
In game one, senior Bobby Lewarne again proved why he’s the ace on the pitching staff, allowing just three hits across eight dominant innings to lead GW to a 4–2 win.
The Des Moines, Iowa native has been stellar all season. With a 6-2 overall record, Lewarne has posted a team-low 2.80 ERA and earned an A-10 Player of the Week honor in March. On Friday, Lewarne struck out a season-high seven batters and only allowed one walk and zero earned runs.
The Colonials got on the board in the top of the second inning after sophomore Robbie Metz scored on an RBI single by sophomore Brandon Chapman.
The offense provided Lewarne with an even greater cushion in the third, extending the lead to 3–0. Bartosic led off with a double in the gap, and after a single by Osis, Campbell and Mahala drove in both runners with RBI groundouts. Campbell picked up his second RBI of the day in the fifth to put GW out in front 4–0.
Ritchie sent Lewarne out in the ninth to go for the complete game, but after allowing the first two Dayton batters to reach base, he handed the ball off to junior closer Eddie Muhl.
After one more Dayton run made it 4–2, Muhl got the final out on a comebacker to the mound to clinch the win for GW and earn his 10th save of the season.
Game 2: Dayton 2, GW 1
Junior starter Shane Sweeney was solid all day Saturday but was on the hook after allowing two runs over seven innings.
GW rallied to knot the score at one in the top of eighth on an RBI single by Bartosic. The Colonials threatened to take the lead with two runners on base but could not convert. In the bottom of the frame, Sweeney was replaced after allowing a leadoff single, and Dayton was able to pull ahead 2–1 with a pair of two-out hits off of senior Luke Olson.
The Colonials went down 1-2-3 to end the game.
Baseball, now in a four-way tie for second place in the conference, travels to James Madison (17-23) on Wednesday before its pivotal three-game set against A-10 rival VCU, which boasts a league-leading 27-14 overall record (10–5 A-10).
“Our goal is take it one game at a time,” Ritchie said. “We have to figure out how to keep winning this series, and we will be in good position when it’s all said and done.”
This article appeared in the April 25, 2016 issue of the Hatchet.