Despite a season plagued with inconsistency on the mound, junior right-handed pitcher Elliott Raimo’s return has opened a bright spot for baseball.
A shoulder injury at the end of last season sidelined Raimo for the last weeks of his sophomore season and the first month of his junior campaign. But his return to the mound has provided another option for a pitching staff riddled with injury and inconsistency.
“It’s been a lot of ups and downs toward the end of the year,” Raimo said. I’ve started to feel a little bit better and feel a little bit more confident. It took time, but I stuck through and stayed with the process and did everything I could to get back, and it feels really good to be back.”
Slowly, Raimo has returned to form, rebuilding his endurance and improving his command with every start this season. His first start this season on March 9 against UMass-Lowell lasted 0.2 innings because of a predetermined pitch limit.
Nearly two months later, Raimo has consistently gone deep into games. His last two turns on the mound on May 3 at Richmond and on May 10 against the Bonnies spanned more than six innings. He had his longest start of the season with seven innings of work on April 20 against Davidson.
After a rocky start against Davidson where Raimo walked four batters – one walk shy of his highest number of walks in a single game all season – head coach Gregg Ritchie said Raimo’s command still was not fully up to par.
“In his last outing, he was probably the most Raimo-like we’ve seen,” Ritchie said after the game against Davidson. “His strikes are coming back, his velocity is coming back, his feel for his pitches, and each and every outing up to where he is now has been a solid difference and progression.”
Raimo said one of his main focuses during his recovery process has been fine-tuning his mechanics to improve his command and velocity.
“When you go that long without throwing, I think the most important thing is to get back your mechanics because then everything starts to work,” he said.
At a match against the Bonnies more than a month later, the right-hander struck out a season-high 10 batters and allowed a single walk.
Raimo has anchored the Colonials’ starting rotation throughout his tenure at GW, ending his debut season ranked second in the Atlantic 10 conference with eight wins. In his sophomore campaign, he led the team with a 2.76 earned run average, a .211 opponents’ average and 72 strikeouts among starters who pitched more than five games.
Freshman second baseman Noah Levin said the team felt Raimo’s absence, and his return has given the squad a dependable and consistent starter.
“On the pitching staff side, he is definitely the rock for us and he really solidifies everything,” Levin said.
Raimo has pitched 44 of the 472 innings played this season, the third-highest on the team despite his limited mound time earlier in the season. The squad allowed 167 runs, 244 hits and 128 walks, ranking it No. 11, No. 13 and No. 13, respectively, in conference play this season.
Senior right-handed pitcher Nate Woods also missed about a month this season. He averaged seven innings of work before his injury and in his six starts since returning, he has averaged about 3.1 innings on the mound. Despite the month off, Woods ranks fourth on the team in wins and fourth on the team in innings pitched with 42 innings total.
Levin said Raimo has been invaluable to the team throughout the final stretch of conference play.
Raimo leads the Colonials with a 3.27 ERA and 16 earned runs. He ranks second in lowest number of baserunners allowed per inning among regular starters for the Colonials.
“He is one of the guys that has really showed a lot of grit because he came back off an injury pretty quickly – he didn’t miss a beat,” Levin said. “He’s been our guy that last couple of weeks here in conference down the stretch.”
Ritchie said Raimo’s drive to maintain the same level of performance as before his injury has led to his success this season.
“Any time you have to work your way through adversity of any kind and you’re able to find your way back to some success, that’s a terrific character builder and competitor builder,” Ritchie said. “I never doubted his competitive nature from day one. He came in a freshman and earned his starting spot in a weekend.”