In its second straight road series of the season, the men’s baseball team struggled to produce runs. Though the pitching staff kept the Red in every game, George Washington swept Saturday’s doubleheader, 4-3 and 5-3. The following day, the Colonials took the first game 1-0 in an extra inning nail biter, but the Red eventually got the bats going and bounced back with a 7-5 win in the series finale.
The story of Saturday’s doubleheader was the Red’s inability to produce with men in scoring position. Though Cornell took an early lead in the second inning off an RBI single by junior first baseman Ryan Plantier and a two-out double by freshman catcher Collin McGee, the offense remained silent until the fifth inning.
Senior infielder Brenton Peters led that frame off with a walk, and junior infielder Tom D’Alessandro drove him in with a double, cutting the Colonials’ lead to one. The Red then loaded the bases, but were unable to come up with a big hit.
“We couldn’t get timely hits,” Peters said. “After getting people in scoring position, we either popped out or struck out or grounded into double plays. So we were doing everything to kill the rally instead of keeping it going.”
In game two, sophomore hurler Brian McAfee gave the Red a solid outing on the hill, going five innings and allowing four runs on seven hits. But the offense could not give him any support. The Red combined for just three hits against Colonials starter Aaron Weisberg and four total in the game. Senior Spenser Souza had two of those hits and two of the team’s three RBI’s, but it was not enough.
The Red returned to the field on Sunday, hoping to avenge the losses of the previous day. Sophomore pitcher Nick Busto did everything he could to keep his team in the game, going a career-high six innings while allowing just two hits and no runs.
“Pitchers kind of have a separate arena from position players, so we’re kind of on the outside looking in,” Peters said. “But when someone comes in that you didn’t expect to see in the starting rotation right away and performs above expectation, it’s awesome.”
Once again, though, the Red hitters could not supplement Busto’s stellar performance. They mustered up only two hits in the game — both singles — and the game went into extra innings without either team crossing the plate. Sophomore reliever Kellen Urbon took the mound after Busto and held the Colonials scoreless in his first inning of work. However, George Washington scored on an error in the bottom of the eighth to complete the 1-0 win.
According to Peters, though the offense remained stagnant, the strong pitching in the first three games was a good sign.
“We still have a lot of returning talent for our staff, those guys we rely on every game to be our constants,” he said. “Once we start swinging the bats the way we want to, it will all add up to a team that can swing it, play defense and pitch, and we’ll be a very good team.”
In the final game of the weekend, the Red’s bats finally woke up, exploding for six runs in the first inning. Souza led the frame off with a double down the left-field line and scored on sophomore outfielder JD Wetsel’s single up the middle. Sophomore catcher Matt Hall, junior infielder Ben Swinford and Plantier also had RBIs in the big inning.
“We decided to take more accountability for our actions at the plate,” Peters said. “A lot of calls weren’t going our way at the beginning [of the weekend] and we were getting down a little bit. But that’s part of baseball, so we said forget it and started to take advantage of our opportunities.”
Sophomore pitcher Brent Jones got his second straight win on the hill and sophomore reliever Roberto Suppa provided Jones’ support, allowing just one earned run in three innings of relief work. Senior reliever Houston Hawley then shut the door after giving the Red a scare by putting the tying run on first base in the ninth.
The Red will head to Boone, N.C. to face off against Appalachian State next weekend in the first games of spring break. The Mountaineers also qualified for the NCAA tournament last season and will be one of the many strong opponents the Red will face before moving into Ivy League play.
“It’s always a cool aspect playing good competition because you get to see how they go about their business and you get to travel,” Peters said. “One of the major parts of our spring break is getting exposure to other playing styles. They were in the UVA regional and had a lot of success [last year], so they should show us what type of caliber teams we’ll be up against.”
Original Author: Scott Chiusano