Despite a mediocre 20-21 record, strong individual performances on both sides of the ball have characterized baseball’s season thus far.
GW has averaged five runs per game and has put up big wins against Rhode Island, Coppin State and Monmouth. But the Colonials haven’t been consistent, they lost three of their last four games.
The team holds the highest batting average in the Atlantic 10 (.285) along with the league-highs in hits (380) and stolen bases (59), the second fewest strikeouts (180) and the four most runs (206), doubles (65) and runs batted in (187) in the A-10.
On the other side of the ball, GW has seen strong pitching performances from junior starting pitcher Brady Renner, sophomore reliever Will Kobos and senior closer Eddie Muhl.
Head coach Gregg Ritchie has relied on a young pitching staff from the beginning of the season. The team’s 4.36 earned run average has been a result of strong outings plagued by inexperience.
Pitching coach Rick Oliveri said that he expects the young arms to develop faster because of all the action they are seeing.
“We have some young freshmen that have pitched like freshmen at times,” he said. “We’re throwing them right into the fire, the longer we go, the more experience they’re gonna get, we’ll be able to count on guys that are freshmen out there.”
Behind the youthful pitching rotation, the Colonials veteran defense is at the top of the conference. The team sports a league-high .981 fielding percentage, has made the least amount of errors and has turned the most double plays in the A-10 (43).
GW’s offensive performance has been a strength, punctuated by key batters including senior first baseman Bobby Campbell, freshman infielder Nate Fassnacht, senior outfielder Joey Bartosic and junior second baseman Robbie Metz – who hit an inside the park home run against Rhode Island Friday.
Campbell – a member of last year’s all-conference first team – leads the way with a .353 average and a team-high in RBI (35), home runs (6) and total bases (81).
With just two more hits than Campbell on the season, Bartosic (57 hits) paces the team both at the plate and on the basepath. He boasts a conference-high 20 swipes and broke the program record for stolen bases Sunday.
In his first year as a Colonial, Fassnacht displayed his patience, leading the team in walks (19) and riding a 15-game reached base streak. The Ephrata, Pa. native has hit for a .340 average with 52 hits, and a team leading .420 on base percentage.
After bouncing back from an injury laden season in 2016, Renner has put up a solid 2.47 ERA and an equally small 1.13 WHIP on the mound. The right-hander has picked up six wins in 10 decisions, allowing 16 earned runs on his team-leading 58.1 innings pitched.
Renner credited both his health and Oliveri, who is in his first year with the team, for his success so far this season.
In the bullpen, Kobos – who was called a “key piece” by Oliveri – is now in his first active year with GW after dealing with an injury last season. He holds a 2.31 ERA and his opponent batting average of .193 is among the best of A-10 relievers.
The closer and veteran of the bullpen, Muhl, holds the GW record for saves and is currently tied for second in the nation for career saves among active closers. He was also awarded the program’s Jackie Robinson Award two weeks ago for exhibiting qualities that emulate its namesake.
“He is fantastic and we are what we are in that bullpen because of Eddie,” Assistant Coach Dave Lorber said.
Muhl has allowed only eight runs in 30.1 innings pitched for a 2.37 ERA, picking up eight saves. His 30.1 innings pitched are second on the team and a large workload for a pitcher occupying the closer role. The Sherman Oaks, Calif. native is often called on to make multi-inning saves and his 18 appearances are a team-high.
During GW’s weekend series with Rhode Island, Muhl highlighted the importance of the position within the team’s dynamic.
“The bullpen role is all about being a fireman sometimes,” he said. “You get a clean inning sometimes there are men on base the important thing is just to get out of it leave guys on and pick up your teammates.”
Agam Mittal contributed reporting.