Baseball (12-11) opened Atlantic 10 play with a series sweep of the La Salle Explorers (5-16) at Tucker Field this weekend.
GW warmed up its offense despite chilly conditions all weekend, scattering hits all over the field and using both small and long ball to overpower the visitors from Southwest Philadelphia.
After a stretch of four road losses in Texas, the Colonials have now won two back-to-back home series to pull back above .500. Senior second baseman Robbie Metz said playing games against high-major competition, such as Baylor and Minnesota, got the Colonials ready for conference play.
“The road trips helped prepare us. We are in conference play now, and we always buckle down for it,” Metz said. “Last year we were just barely in the conference tournament, so this year we want to make a statement and we are trying to get in there before the end.”
The Colonials came out quietly in their first conference game of the season, but rebounded with a strong comeback effort resulting in a 11–6 victory.
GW was fueled by an aggressive approach at the plate that featured 14 hits, including five for extra bases. It was just the fourth time this season the Colonials have cracked double-digit runs in a game.
Playing in the fourth game of a seven-game homestand, GW fell behind 4–0 early, as the Explorers found success against sophomore pitcher Jaret Edwards. In 2.2 innings of work, the Rocky River, Ohio native yielded six hits – three of which went for extra bases.
The Colonials drew from their bullpen early, employing five pitchers out of the pen on the game. The troop – consisting of sophomore Andrew Wheeler, senior Kevin Hodgson, senior Tyler Swiggart, junior Pat Knight and junior Will Kobos – faced a total of 27 batters and combined to allow just four hits, four walks and two runs over the final seven innings of the game.
The Colonials responded with all of their runs coming in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings. GW scored four runs in the fifth inning, three runs in the sixth and topped it off with a four-run seventh inning. Senior third baseman Isaiah Pasteur pulled the home team ahead by five runs in the seventh with a two-run home run over the left-field fence.
GW stole six bases on the matchup, three of which came courtesy of sophomore outfielder Steven Barmakian, who finished 3-for-4 at the plate.
After being hit by a pitch in Friday’s contest, Metz entered Saturday’s matchup sporting a brace on his wrist, knowing he would not be at full health for GW’s second game of conference play.
Metz would then turn in with one of his finest performances of the season. The shortstop flashed the leather on defense and was alive at the plate – turning two double plays and finishing 2-for-3 with two runs batted in, a steal and a run scored as part of a 5–4 victory for GW.
The senior was also responsible for the game’s turning point, breaking a 2-2 tie in the fifth inning with a moonshot over the left-field fence for his second career home run. The two-run no-doubter gave the Colonials a 4–2 lead on a day that offense was not easy to come by.
Pasteur, who got his usual start at third base, took to the mound in the sixth inning to preserve a 5–2 lead. Although the Explorers threatened to close the gap, he scattered five hits over four innings and allowed only one run to earn a four-inning save.
At the plate, Pasteur extended his hitting streak to 10 games.
“For me, it’s all about trying to get the ball to the plate and make them make good batted ball contact,” Pasteur said. “If not, then I know I can get ahead and stay ahead.”
The contest became a battle of the bullpens early. Making his first start in two weeks, starting pitcher Elliott Raimo struggled to keep the Explorers off the base paths, allowing one earned run but surrendering nine hits in 3.1 innings.
La Salle’s starting pitcher, sophomore Jackson Ray, was knocked out of the game in the second inning after injuring his left shin on a collision at home plate.
The Colonials completed the sweep in swift fashion Sunday, securing an 8–2 win in the series finale that took just two hours and 37 minutes.
GW put its ace junior Nathan Woods – owner of a 2.31 earned run average – on the mound for his sixth start of the year. The visiting Explorers countered with senior Austin Constantini, an everyday shortstop making his first start this season on the mound.
The Colonials struck first on the afternoon. On Constantini’s first pitch, Pasteur mashed an opposite-field home run over the A-10 banner in right-field.
Constantini rebounded to strike out five Colonials his first time through the order, but they solved the puzzle their second time in the box. GW notched five runs on five hits in the third inning – bolstered by three straight two-out hits – to put the team up 6–0.
Woods allowed just three hits to the visiting Explorers through five innings, but he loaded the bases in the sixth inning. Kobos then kept the threat at bay, getting two outs via a strikeout and a pop-up to leave the bases loaded and limit La Salle to just two runs.
“I definitely had my fastball. I thought I was locating really well, and my arm felt really good,” Woods said. “This whole week my arm didn’t feel as good, so I just focused on getting sleep and eating and I thought that really helped my command part of the game.”
Already responsible for two RBIs, Pasteur hit a sixth-inning inside-the-park home run that got the audience buzzing for the rest of the afternoon.
“Once we saw the ball kind of kick off the fence in a weird way, we were all screaming, ‘go all the way! Go all the way!’” senior outfielder Mark Osis said. “And he made it, so that was a lot of fun and that got the boys up and excited.”
Pasteur finished the day 2-for-4 at the plate with three RBIs, a walk and three runs scored as part of a 12-hit effort that saw five different Colonials post multiple hits.
The Colonials return to action Wednesday at 3 p.m. for a home game against Towson.