This post was written by Hatchet senior staff writer Josh Solomon.
In four years as the head coach of GW baseball, Gregg Ritchie has never been thrown out of a game.
In the fifth inning Ritchie climbed the dugout steps, popped out onto the field and yelled down to the home plate umpire, “That is utterly ridiculous!”
He kept arguing the called second strike in the at bat to sophomore Mark Osis in the fifth inning. The pitch was arguably low, and the call was definitely late. It wasn’t the close call to Ritchie getting thrown out of a game, and it wasn’t intended to get him the hook, but it was demonstrative enough to garner attention.
“When you’re kind of in a down mode and you’re not quite getting in with the game,” Ritchie said. “When they see the manager get a little heightened that gets the rest of the team going. I think it has that effect.”
But arguing balls and strikes didn’t warrant getting thrown of a game today. Richmond’s third base coach had plenty to say. Fans had plenty to say.
The ball game was a near must-win for both clubs: The intensity matched a 90’s NBA playoff game, with loud actions and louder words allowed to breathe on the field.
Ritchie could have gotten the hook at that moment in the fifth. But his team was in the middle of what would become a five-run comeback. GW had just scraped across two runs in the inning but were still down three. Osis stayed in the at bat, singling in a run to cap the inning.
“Our guys keep fighting,” Ritchie said. “It’s one thing we continue to do. We keep fighting. There’s a lot of grit and our guys keep doing it and we’ll just keep fighting back.”
GW entered extra innings. In the 10th inning, with one out and no one on the team’s most consistent hitter all season stepped to the plate.
Junior Bobby Campbell crushed a 0-1 pitch over the left field wall, for his fourth home run of the season, his first at home on the final homestand of the year. The 7-6 win over Richmond improved the team’s record to 10-9 and put them back in postseason contention at the start of the final three-game set at The Tuck.
When Campbell rounded third, he tossed his helmet in the air. When he crossed the plate, he was mobbed by his teammates.
“It’s just all smiles,” Campbell said.
Early on, it seemed that the team’s spirits were low: At bats were ending quickly and unfruitfully, and at the start of their half of the fifth inning, the Colonials were down 6-1.
Notable innings pulled them to the walk-off in the 10th, though.
Senior Luke Olson entered mid at-bat in the sixth inning, facing Richmond’s cleanup hitter and co-captain down 2-0 in the count with the bases loaded. Olson came back to strike him out. He forced the next batter into a come-backer on a 1-2-3 double play.
“It started shifting momentum toward our dugout,” Olson said. “I think that might have ultimately gave us a win, which is awesome. Not sure if it was me, or it might have just been luck, but either way I’ll take it.”
Junior Cody Bryant drove in Kevin Mahala on a two-out base hit in the eighth. Earlier in the inning, Osis doubled to lead off the inning, but was thrown out trying to steal third with no outs, after over-sliding the bag.
Junior closer Eddie Muhl escaped a 10th inning jam with the bases loaded to keep the game knotted at six apiece.
In his final start at home, senior Bobby LeWarne did not have his best stuff. Following an outing at Fordham in which he gave up a lead-off home run to the first batter he faced, the grizzled veteran did so again to Richmond. The Spiders came in as the top home-run-hitting team in conference play.
LeWarne didn’t fare better in the second inning. He gave up three runs on a couple hard hit balls and some bad luck. The first run came on a squeeze play. LeWarne picked up the bunt and tossed it home, but the runner slid around the tag to score. A couple batters later, with the bases loaded, a hard hit grounder stayed fair inside the third base line to drive in two more. In the fifth inning he gave up two more runs.
LeWarne threw five innings, but he was credited with seven hits and six runs, all earned.
It was all forgotten by the time the team huddled around the plate to jump on Campbell. Nearly three and a half hours later, the Colonials sat in a better spot.
“It’s jubilation. It’s joy for the entire squad. It’s joy for every guy that was fighting through that game – and all of the other game that we lose late. You finally get one. It comes at a very great time,” Ritchie said.
They continue play Saturday at 11:30 a.m. and finish up the series against Richmond Sunday at 3 p.m.