Baseball's Tom Shanley Hits A Walk Off Grand Slam Home Run In 4-2 Win Over Richmond
April 17, 2004
ARLINGTON, VA - Tom Shanley blasted a walk off grand slam home run in the bottom of the 10th inning to lead the Colonials to a miraculous 4-2 victory over Richmond. The Colonials (24-13, 9-2 A-10) swept the doubleheader against the Spiders (17-14, 5-3 A-10) after giving up two runs in the top of the third extra inning. GW is in first place in the A-10 West and off to its second-best conference start in school history.
With the bases loaded in the bottom of the 10th inning, Tom Shanley hit a 2-0 pitch over the wall in left center field to the elation of more than 300 fans at Barcroft Park. Shanley, who was recognized before the game as last year's recipient of the Jackie Robinson Award, gave the Colonials the victory at the third annual Jackie Robinson Commemorative Baseball Game. The sophomore said after the game that it was his first ever walk off home run in his life and it is one that he will remember forever.
After an incredible pitchers duel between the Colonials Josh Wilkie and the Spiders Thomas Martin, the game ended with an avalanche of runs. Richmond scored two unearned runs off of closer Derrik Lutz in the top of the 10th only to give up the lead when Nate Kuchta gave up Shanley's walk off grand slam home run in the bottom half of the inning. The game had been scoreless up until the 10th necessitating three extra innings in the nightcap of a doubleheader which the Colonials swept at Barcroft Park.
With the score tied at zero, Lutz faced John Cronin, who had moved from right field to pitcher, to lead off the inning. Cronin struck out on a ball in the dirt which got past catcher Jeff Fertitta who played it off of the backstop but threw high to the first baseman allowing Cronin to reach on an error. Needing only a run Bryan Pritz sacrificed himself, bunting Cronin to second. Lutz then hit Ben Zeskind with a pitch before giving up a double to left field to Jim Fasano that scored Cronin from second as an unearned run. Bobby Lenoir then hit a sacrifice fly to center field which should have ended the inning but due to the error, Zeskind tagged and scored from third with only two away. Lutz got Josh Farkes to fly out to end the 10th. Although Lutz did not allow an earned run in his two innings of work he was the pitcher of record and was in position to pick up the loss until GW rallied and won in the bottom half.
Geoff Milsom, who entered in the seventh as the designated hitter, hit a single down the left field line to start off the bottom of the 10th inning. Steve Santy then pinch hit a single up the middle, moving Milsom to second. Matt Owens walked on four pitches to load the bases with no outs. Cronin was then replaced on the mound by Kuchta who threw his first two pitches out of the zone to Shanley. His third pitch was over the heart of the plate and Shanley smacked it over the wall in left center field clear the bases and the bench. Although Kuchta gave up the homer, Cronin (3-1) picked up his first loss of the year as three of the four runs (including the game winner) were credited to him. Lutz (3-4) went from presumed unlucky loser to surprising winning pitcher on one pitch, a pitch that he did not even throw.
The two pitchers who deserve most of the credit were the two starters who kept things scoreless for most of the game. Wilkie was outstanding pitching seven full innings and allowing no runs and only three hits. His five strikeouts brought him to 33 on the season, good for third on the team to go with two walks in the game. Most importantly, Wilkie's ERA dropped to a team-low 3.06 which is largely attributed to going an amazing 27 and two thirds innings without allowing an earned run earlier in the season. Wilkie's record remained 3-2 this year and 9-4 in his career which is 10th all-time on GW's winning percentage list. Currently in first place on this list at 9-0 all-time is fellow sophomore Dan Pfau who pitched a scoreless eighth inning with two strikeouts on the three batters he faced.
For Richmond, Martin mastered GW over six innings in his first start in several weeks due to an injury. The redshirt junior allowed only two hits while striking out six and allowing only one walk. Cronin relieved Martin entering in the seventh and got out of a jam after GW jammed the bases full with only one out on a single and two walks. After retiring the next eight batters in succession, Cronin juiced the bases in the 10th without getting an out before being pulled in favor of Kuchta who threw only three pitches giving up Shanley's game-winning granny to end an intense game in the bottom of the 10th.
GW has only had a better start once in the school's history, when the 1989 Colonials 10-1 after winning their first 10 of the year. In both 2002 and 1998 the Colonials went 9-2 to start conference play. With a doubleheader sweep of Richmond on Saturday, GW has matched their second-best start but would need to keep winning in order to remain on pace with those three years. The Colonials have a chance to do so with Sunday's nine inning game starting at noon at Barcroft Park in Arlington, VA.