Baseball Loses Heartbreaker In Infamous Eighth, 8-7, In Rematch With JMU
March 18, 2004
ARLINGTON, VA - The George Washington Colonials lost to James Madison in a rematch that ended very much the same way that their nightmare of two weeks ago ended - by giving up four runs in the eighth inning after holding a late lead. This time the Colonials committed two costly errors with two outs in the top of the eighth and then failed to score with one out and the bases loaded in the bottom half of the inning. On the positive side, GW saw the return of two players who had been out with injuries. Tom Shanley had three hits including a double in his first at bat in 11 days while catcher Joe Michalski went two-for-three with a double. Anthony Smith who was the starting pitcher for GW also paced the team with two doubles and three RBI in his three hit performance from the plate.
The Colonials put themselves in position to win only to lose the handle in eighth with the game in the balance. GW took a 7-4 lead into the eighth inning before giving up the lead and the game on four runs, three of which were unearned. Colonials' reliever Derrik Lutz who had been effective previously got a quick out to the shortstop to start the inning. JMU's Matt Sluder then singled through the left side advancing to second on a sacrifice bunt and then to third on a wild pitch. JMU's number-nine hitter, Davis Stoneburner then drove in Sluder with a single which found a hole between four fielders in shallow left center field. With two outs and a runner at first Brandon Bowser hit a routine grounder to the shortstop who lost his concentration and let the ball roll through his legs. He had a play at second or first but took his eye off of the ball allowing Stoneburner to move to third. In a well orchestrated hit and run, Michael Cowgill slapped a ball through the right side when the second baseman went to cover the bag on the steal allowing Stoneburner to score. Mike Butia then replicated the effort finding the hole on the right side with first and third and the runner in motion scoring Bowser. With the cleanup hitter Nate Schill up, GW shortstop Geoff Milsom had a chance to redeem himself when the ball was hit to him on the ground but he threw the ball away for his second error of the inning allowing Cowgill, the winning run to score.
The Colonials comedy of errors turned tragic in the bottom half of the inning when they failed to score with the bases loaded and only one out with their cleanup hitter coming to the plate. Joe Michalski was promptly plunked by the first pitch with JMU hanging on to an 8-7 lead. Ironically, Pat Riley who had pitched the previous inning, would still earn the win despite being taken out of the game after facing just four batters. JMU then participated in a parade of pitchers which would see Jacob Cook enter the game as the pitcher then move to right field after retiring Matt Owens and then reenter as the pitcher to face Anthony Raglani after Shanley singled off of Travis Risser. Cook would walk Raglani yielding to Risser again who came in from right field to pitch the rest of the way for the Diamond Dukes. Risser would earn the save after some help from the Colonials after resuming his role on the mound in a late inning jam. Risser was pitted against the Colonials cleanup man Ryan Roberson who was the one of the nation's leading RBI producers last year, with the bases loaded and only one out. Roberson, who had previously doubled and scored, hit a grounder to the third baseman who threw Michalski out at home on a force out. In an inexplicable turn of events, Roberson then wandered off of first base apparently thinking that he was out or that the inning was over. Seeing Roberson off the bag, Risser threw to first baseman and tagged out Roberson ending the Colonials chance to tie or win the game.
With the loss GW dropped to the .500 mark again with a 9-9 record while JMU improves to an impressive 13-4 tally. This was only the Colonials second loss of the year at Barcroft Park as the team is 7-2 at home. Raglani, Roberson and Smith were all able to extend their hitting streaks to eight straight for the juniors and six straight for Smith. Raglani who was last week's Atlantic 10 Player of the Week hit a solo home run, his team-tying fifth of the year. Smith who was last week's A-10 Rookie of the Week had his sixth consecutive multi hit game and has 19 RBI in his last four games. After hitting two doubles, he leads GW in that category with seven while batting an incredible .491 with an obese .891 slugging percentage.
Smith started for GW but did not earn a decision after pitching four and one thirds of an inning in which he gave up three runs on seven hits with two walks and a strikeout. Derrik Lutz entered in the fifth and pitched the next three and a third innings before Avi Rasowsky stopped the bleeding in GW's nightmarish eighth. Nick Koken pitched a scoreless one-hit ninth but GW failed to score in the final half inning of the game.
The Colonials play a weekend series against Marist at home with a double header on Saturday starting at noon. After two seven-inning games Saturday, the Colonials will play a nine-inning game on Sunday also starting at noon. This will mark the first-ever meeting between George Washington and Marist.