Baseball unable to find equalizer in middle game with Massachusetts

In a close game in which they consistently threatened to score, the Colonials failed to come up with timely hits to knock off the the Massachusetts Minutemen in their second Atlantic 10 game of the season Saturday. 

In front of a large home crowd at Tucker Field, the Minutemen (5-9, 1-1 A-10) defeated GW (10-12, 1-1 A-10) 2-1 to tie up the series at one game apiece.

The Colonials’ southpaw, Shane Sweeney (2-2), struggled early in the loss – hitting two batters and allowing one hit in the first inning – but the Minutemen were unable to capitalize.

Sweeney, who pitched a complete game shutout in his last start, did not look the part on Saturday.

“He gave us a chance to win, there’s no doubt about that,” head coach Gregg Ritchie said. “But he was not what he was [in his last start].”

The Minutemen struck first, scoring one run in the third on a single by freshman right fielder Nolan Kessinger. The damage could have been worse but Kessinger was caught trying to turn his RBI single into a double, and Sweeney was able to get Massachusetts’ sophomore designated hitter, Logan Greene, to fly out to end the inning.

However, Sweeney was taken out of the game having pitched three innings, allowing one run on three hits, with a walk and one strikeout.

“I left a lot of balls up, and I wasn’t myself,” Sweeney said. “I got behind on a lot of counts.”

Despite threatening in the second inning, with runners on second and third, the Colonials failed to score.  But GW came right back in the third and was able to tie the game on first baseman Bobby Campbell’s team leading 17th RBI.

The bases were loaded after the eventual scorer, senior third baseman Eli Kashi, was hit by a pitch, a walk, and an infield single before Campbell was able to drive in Kashi after hitting into a fielder’s choice.

However, the Minutemen retook the lead in the fourth inning off of reliever Jaret Edwards after Dylan Morris, a senior center fielder, walked and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt. Sophomore third baseman Alec Norton drove him in with a single.

The Colonials threatened to tie the game up again in the bottom of the fourth inning, but left runners stranded once more on second and third.

When asked about his team’s poor average in situations with runners in scoring position, Ritchie said his team’s performance down the stretch was lacking.

“It’s all about coming up with a big hit, we did not have good approaches in those situations,” Ritchie said. “I thought our hitting was there until the moment that it counted.”

The bottom of the sixth was the Colonials’ best chance to score.  After singles by freshman shortstop Nate Fassnacht and junior second baseman Robbie Metz – and an intentional walk of senior centerfielder Joey Bartosic – loaded the bases with one out, the Colonials ended the inning with a strikeout and lineout to the left fielder.

After a pitching change in the top of the seventh brought in junior lefty Kevin Hodgson, the Colonials soon found themselves in another jam.  However, Metz, a second baseman, made an excellent defensive play ranging far to his left to field the grounder and throw out the runner and escape the inning with runners stranded on the corners.

GW made it tense in the last inning, putting runners on first and second with one out before Fassnacht struck out swinging and Metz grounded out to the first baseman.  Massachusetts freshman Christian Rosati picked up the six-out save, his second on the season.

Minuteman starter, freshman lefty Brooks Knapek (2-1) went seven innings giving up one run on five walks, seven hits, and six strikeouts in the win.

“You come back and you understand that you didn’t do your best to win that game,” Ritchie said. “You gotta come back and say hey, you gotta take it tomorrow.”

The Colonials will face the Minutemen in the series finale on Sunday at Tucker Field. First pitch is set for noon.

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