Baseball Knocked Out Of A-10 Tournament By Rhode Island 8-4
Colonials Finish 2004 Season With Second Most Wins And A 41-18 Record
May 29, 2004
NORWICH, CT - George Washington lost to Rhode Island, 8-4, to get knocked out of the Atlantic 10 Tournament in Norwich, CT. The Colonials concluded their season with a 41-18 record which is their second highest win total in school history. GW also recorded their most-ever conference wins with a 19-5 Atlantic 10 record.
The No. 1 seeded Rams advanced to play Richmond and ultimately continued on to the championship game against currently undefeated St. Bonaventure. The Colonials had beaten Rhode Island twice in the tournament last year but lost in this year's first meeting between the teams.
Rhode Island advanced behind the left arm of ace Zach Zuercher, the Atlantic 10 Pitcher of the Year. Zuercher tossed went all nine inning to complete his ninth complete game of the season. He threw 147 pitches, the most of any pitcher in this year's tournament. Zuercher's record improved to 8-3 defeating GW's Anthony Smith who dropped to 6-3.
Smith, the A-10 Rookie of the Year suffered from rookie nerves as he gave up four runs in the first inning. Only two of the runs, however, were earned as All-Conference first team member Tom Shanley committed an error at shortstop on a double-play ball that would have ended the inning without Rhode Island scoring. Smith got behind in the count to Rams leadoff hitter Dave Savard who singled up the middle followed by a four-pitch walk to Chris Selma.
With two runners on and none away, Smith balked moving both runners into scoring position. Smith got Sullivan to ground the ball to the third baseman who threw home and got Savard out in a rundown at home. With first base open, GW elected to intentionally walk A-10 Player of the Year, Dan Batz. Smith got Sullivan to ground the ball to the shortstop Shanley but instead of turning two he booted the ball which allowed Rhode Island to score rather than end the inning. Because a double play cannot be assumed, only Batz reached second on the error while Cunningham reached on a fielder's choice and earned an RBI. With URI's tournament RBI leader Mike Rainville at the plate, catcher Joe Michalski let a ball pass over his head for a run-scoring passed ball. Rainville then hit a two-run single to center.
Rhody added three runs in the bottom of the third. Sullivan singled with one out and Batz was hit by a pitch. Cunningham looped a single into shallow right that loaded the bases and then Rainville drew a walk on a 3-2 pitch that plated Sullivan and gave Rainville his sixth RBI in two games of the tournament. Josh Nestor followed with a two-run single for a 7-0 lead.
Rhode Island added a run in the fourth when Savard walked, Stelma singled and after Batz was intentionally walked for the second time on the day and third time in the tournament, Cunningham picked up his second RBI of the day on a fielder's choice to put URI ahead 8-0.
Bill Simpson hit a two-run double in the top of the seventh inning to put the Colonials on the board to bring the score to 8-2. Simpson drove a ball to the wall off the end of the bat knocking in Brad Rosenblat and Matt Owens. Rosenblat reached on an infield single, only GW's second hit of the game. Matt Owens hit a ground ball to the first baseman who tried to turn the double play but was unsuccessful in the effort.
The Colonials added another run in the eighth with a lead-off walk and singles by Anthony Raglani and Ryan Roberson, plating a run to cut the gap to 8-3 with no outs and runners on first and second. Zuercher struck out the next batter on a 3-2 pitch, got a groundout that cut down the lead runner at third and induced Matt Owens into a foul popup to get out of the jam with a five-run cushion. Simpson struck again when he hit a solo homer to left centerfield in the top of the ninth inning.
The other bright spot for the Colonials was reliever Nate CasaGrande who fanned nine batters in the final four and two thirds of one hit baseball without allowing a run. On Thursday, CasaGrande also threw one and a third shutout innings to close out the game against Richmond.
"I am pleased with our year. We have some good young talent in the program and a lot to build on," said GW head coach Tom Walter, who guided his team to the second-most wins in program history in 2004. "I'm excited about the future of George Washington baseball."