Colonials' Pitchers Limit Minutemen to Two Runs in 18 Innings
Gregg Ritchie '86 is in his fourth season as head coach of the George Washington baseball team in 2015-16.
Ritchie's third season at the helm of his alma mater saw the Colonials complete their most successful season in nearly two decades. GW finished 32-22 overall record, the eighth-highest win total in program history and the 12th time a team has eclipsed the 30-win plateau. GW went 13-10 in the Atlantic 10 and finished 2-1 in the Atlantic 10 Championship to conclude the season in the conference's final four. It marked the first season with multiple postseason wins since 2006.
The Colonials started the 2015 season with a 7-3 record, the best 10-game start since Ritchie was a freshman in 1984. GW went on to register its first win over a ranked opponent since 2008 in a 12-1 win over then-No. 16 Maryland on April 8 in College Park, Maryland. In addition to the win over the Terrapins, the Colonials posted an 11-3 record against local teams, including the first season sweep over Georgetown (2-0) since 2001. GW also posted wins over Towson (2-0), Mount St. Mary's (2-0), UMBC (1-1), Coppin State (1-0), George Mason (1-2) and UMES (1-0).
Freshman Robbie Metz (Atlantic 10 All-Rookie Team) and sophomore Eddie Muhl (Atlantic 10 First Team All-Conference) earned All-Conference honors from the Atlantic 10. Muhl was also recognized as an American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA) All-East Region Second Team relief pitcher and NBCWA Stopper of of the Year Finalist after leading the NCAA with a program-record 17 saves.
The Colonials also saw junior pitcher Shane Kemp selected by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 26th round of the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft, the first draft selection of out GW since 2011.
GW set a program record with a .976 fielding percentage while posting the fourth-lowest team ERA in program history (3.62). Additionally, GW's team batting average of .274 was the highest since 2010.
In his second season, Ritchie's hitting philosophy resulted in the Colonials leading all of Division I in both the least amount of total offensive strikeouts (207) and the least amount of offensive strikeouts per game (4.14).
Additionally, Ritchie's inaugural recruiting class went on to make GW one of the youngest teams in the nation. GW was one of just two teams to start at least seven freshmen position players in half of its 2014 games. Two of the freshman, third basemen Bobby Campbell and outfielder Joey Bartosic, earned Atlantic 10 All-Rookie honors. The duo marks the first time GW has produced an All-Rookie performer since the 2008 season.
In his first season at the helm of his alma mater, Ritchie was named the Atlantic 10 Coach of the Year after leading the Colonials to a 15-9 record in conference games and to the program's first Atlantic 10 Championship berth since the 2006 season.
Picked to finish last in the Atlantic 10 Preseason Poll, the Colonials responded by earning the No. 5 seed in the Atlantic 10 Championship and upsetting No. 4 Rhode Island before being eliminated by eventual champion and No. 1 seed Saint Louis in the final four of the bracket.
Under Ritchie's tutelage, the Colonials' offense finished ranked third overall in all of Division I in strikeouts against, 1st overall in strikeouts per game, 17th in stolen bases and 20th in stolen bases per game. The Colonials also posted a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 1.55-to-1, the best ratio since the 2001 season.
Across the board, GW's returning players increased their batting averages by an average of 23% as the offense posted an 11.3% increase in runs scored and a 129% increase in stolen bases when compared to the 2012 season.
A George Washington alum ('86) and GW Athletic Hall of Fame member ('99), Ritchie was named the head coach of the George Washington baseball program on October 9, 2012.
Ritchie returned to Washington from Major League Baseball's Pittsburgh Pirates where he served as the team's hitting coach.
"GW's baseball program has a storied tradition of winning, and in his time as a Colonial, Gregg was certainly a major part of our success," said George Washington Director of Athletics and Recreation Patrick Nero. "Since his graduation he has honed his skills as a tactician, strategist and teacher of the game, and we are extremely fortunate to be able to welcome him back to campus as our head baseball coach."
"Coming back to George Washington brings my career full circle as in many ways this is where it all started for me," said Coach Ritchie. "I met my wife here at GW, and we both made a lifetime of extraordinary memories going to school and competing in the heart of the nation's capital. To have this opportunity to coach at my alma mater and play our home games in the premier facility in the conference at Barcroft Park is extremely special."
Named the Pirates' hitting coach on November 24, 2010, the 2012 season marked Ritchie's seventh with the Pittsburgh organization, having also served as the minor league hitting coordinator for five years. Ritchie has been instrumental in the development of the Pirates' homegrown two-time All-Star Andrew McCutchen, who in 2012 led the NL in hits (194), finished second in runs scored (107) and batting average (.327), placed third in on-base percentage (.400) and slugging percentage (.553), and also finished in the NL's Top 15 in home runs (31, t8th), walks (70, 8th), RBIs (96, 11th) and triples (6, 15th). As a team, Coach Ritchie's hitters ranked fourth in the National League in home runs this season, as McCutchen, Pedro Alvarez (30 HR), Garrett Jones (27 HR) and Neil Walker (14 HR) all enjoyed career-best years under Ritchie's tutelage.
"The GW community is excited to welcome Gregg back to Foggy Bottom," noted George Washington President Steven Knapp. "His experience as a professional coach and player will be a tremendous asset to our program."
After starring locally in high school in North Stafford, Va., Ritchie's Hall of Fame career at GW culminated in being drafted by the San Francisco Giants in the eighth round of the 1986 June Draft. An outfielder and pitcher for the Colonials, Ritchie batted .492 during the regular season of his senior campaign, second-highest in the nation, while notching a 6-3 record on the mound with a 1.91 ERA. A member of GW's All-Century team, in his career he was named an All-Atlantic 10 outfielder three times, was named Atlantic 10 Conference Player of the Year in 1986, and garnered All-America third team honors by the National Baseball Coaches Association as well after his senior season.
He later played seven years in the Giants system, including three at the Triple-A level at Phoenix, before concluding his playing career in 1995 in the Texas Rangers' organization at AAA Oklahoma City. Ritchie was named to the Midwest League All-Star team in 1987 after posting a career-high .337 average and 41 stolen bases at Class-A Clinton, and led the California League with 118 runs scored while playing with San Jose in 1988.
"Gregg's ability to teach the game was evident even when he was playing at GW," identified former teammate, major leaguer and GW Athletic Hall of Famer John Flaherty, who served on a search committee to identify GW's new baseball coach. "I've had the opportunity not only to play with him at GW, but to observe his career while we were both playing professionally and now to watch as his Pirates are one of the best young up-and-coming teams in all of Major League Baseball."
Ritchie began his coaching career in the Chicago White Sox minor league system with Bristol in the Appalachian League in 1996, and later coached at Class-A Hickory (1998) and Class-A Winston-Salem (1999). He spent 10 years as a hitting coach in Chicago's system, the majority of which was spent at AA Birmingham, where Ritchie helped propel the team to a franchise and Southern League record six consecutive playoff berths. He also represented the franchise at the Southern League All-Star Game in 2002 as his Barons went on to lead the circuit with a .269 batting average and 220 stolen bases. During the following campaign in 2003, Ritchie moved up to Triple-A Charlotte midseason, while Charlotte led the International League in home runs and slugging percentage (.432), and ranked second in batting (.281).
Ritchie operates his own baseball school, "The Starting Lineup," in the winter months, instructing hundreds of students annually from elementary school through the pros. He also owns KaeLo Sports Inc., a company built around products that he invented and patented including "The Hitter's Seat" and "The Pitch."
Ritchie's wife, formerly Kelly Siegel, is also an '86 GW grad and was a member of the Colonials rowing team. Gregg and Kelly have four children; daughters Kaety, Riley and Arizona, and son Logan.