The ball senior third baseman Isaiah Pasteur hit in the sixth inning of Sunday’s 8-2 win over La Salle flew high and deep toward the center field fence. Hit to any other part of the ballpark, it would have been a no-doubter, a moon-shot allowing Pasteur to trot around the bases for his second home run of the day.
Instead, it bounced off the top of the wall and plummeted toward the warning track. As it fell, about 380 feet from where Pasteur struck it, everyone in the ballpark expected the senior to hustle for his fourth triple of the year.
But Pasteur wanted four bases. As assistant coach Dave Lorber watched the relay come in from centerfield, he waved Pasteur home. In about 15 seconds of action, the senior from Westminster, Md. had an inside-the-park home run, his Atlantic 10-leading sixth four-bagger of the year.
His combination of athleticism, speed and power has brought a new energy to GW’s roster this season – a spark that his teammates said has been infectious.
“Zay is the best athlete I’ve ever played with,” senior outfielder Mark Osis said after the game. “He is so fast, and he can just do it all.”
With conference play just getting started, Pasteur, who transferred from Indiana last year, has already doubled his previous career total of five home runs – all of which he hit in his freshman year, when he was a Big Ten All-Freshman Team selection.
Pasteur’s breakout season has not been a product of a more hitter-friendly ballpark either. Head coach Gregg Ritchie said Tucker Field has long been “one of the three toughest places to get it out of.” Pasteur credited his preparation and adjustments to his increased power this season.
“We’ve done a lot of changes to my mechanics as far as hitting goes,” Pasteur said. “I’ve incorporated more of a leg kick and keeping my base underneath me, and not chasing after stuff, and it’s just all coming together now.”
In addition to his power, the senior is a perfect 8-for-8 in stolen base attempts on the season and has also walked a team-high 12 times as the leadoff hitter.
Ritchie said it has been invaluable to have a do-it-all player like Pasteur at his disposal, especially because of the team’s need at the leadoff position. Last year’s leadoff hitter, 2017 graduate Joey Bartosic, is now a member of the Colorado Rockies organization.
“He’s obviously so versatile – he can play center, he can play second, he can play short, he can play third, he can come in and pitch four shutout innings,” Ritchie said. “He’s brought a lot to the table, and he’s got a higher ceiling than what he’s showing. He’s learning to pull all his tools together and become a marquee-type player.”
But Pasteur is not the only Colonial finding success with the long ball. With the senior leading the charge, the Colonials have hit 17 home runs, the second-best mark in the conference. After 23 games last year, they had nine.
GW is top-five in the Atlantic 10 in runs, hits, runs batted in, batting average, steals, slugging percentage, total bases and extra-base hits.
Pasteur said the increased offensive production stems from both the personnel and a refreshed team-wide mindset at the plate.
“In previous years we were more contact and running on the bases, and now we got a couple guys who can really smoke the ball,” Pasteur said. “A lot of young guys are stepping up and doing their part, too. Everyone’s just barreling up balls and making contact and letting the ball fall where it may.”
Osis, who in his fourth year with the Colonials, has seen his production increase, batting .333 with a team-high eight doubles and 12 extra-base hits from his clean-up spot. Senior middle infielder Robbie Metz, who is hitting .298 with a team-high 10 steals, mashed his first two career homers this year.
As a team, GW has hit five triples, showcasing power and speed that was absent last year, when the team had zero three-base hits through the first 23 contests.
“This year we’ve adopted the mentality, ‘get your pitch and don’t miss it,” Osis said. “It’s just a really good way to focus on squaring everything up that you can. It’s been fun celebrating some home runs with the guys.”