GW Baseball Returns to Atlantic 10 Championship Seeking Fifth League Title
No. 5 Colonials Open Tournament Against No. 4 Xavier on Wednesday at 10 a.m.
May 21, 2013
GW Game Notes | 2013 Atlantic 10 Championship Bracket | Championship Central
WASHINGTON - The No. 5-seeded George Washington baseball team returns to the Atlantic 10 Championship for the first time since 2006 when it opens play against No. 4 Xavier on Wednesday morning at 10:00 a.m., at Hayes Stadium on the campus of the University of North Carolina-Charlotte.
The Atlantic 10 Championship is a seven-team, double-elimination tournament with the winner receiving the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
The winner of the game between GW and Xavier will advance to play No. 1 seed Saint Louis on Thursday at 10:00 a.m. The loser will face a yet-to-be-determined opponent, which could be No. 2 Charlotte, No. 3 Rhode Island, No. 6 La Salle or No. 7 Richmond, at 8:30 p.m., on Thursday.
The Colonials won nine of their last 10 games down the stretch, including a series sweep of La Salle last weekend to clinch the No. 5 seed in the tournament. GW, which won league titles in 1979, 1989, 1992 and 2002, posted 15 league victories - a nine-game improvement from last season.
GW has faced three teams that are in this year's A-10 Championship field, boasting a 3-6 record. The Colonials swept La Salle while suffering series losses against Charlotte and Richmond.
Senior Justin Albright is enjoying the best season of his career, making an impact at the plate and on the mound. Albright enters the Atlantic 10 Championship as the team leader in batting average (.305), runs (27), doubles (11), walks (27), on-base percentage (.413) and stolen bases (28).
On the mound, Albright is 2-1 with a 5.06 ERA in six appearances (five starts). He has 19 strikeouts against just four walks.
The Thurmont, Md., native has been named Atlantic 10 Player of the Week on two occasions this season and was named the GW Baseball Most Valuable Player at the second annual Georgey Awards. Albright is also the 2013 Recipient of the Warren J. Fulton III Memorial Award.
The Colonials concluded the regular season ranked second in the Atlantic 10 with 104 stolen bases and first with 148 attempts.
Albright ranks tied for second in the conference and tied for 18th in NCAA Division I with 28 pilfered sacks, the most by a Colonial since Mickey Shupin (33) in 2007. His career total stands at 44 steals, good for 11th all-time at GW. Junior Owen Beightol (14) and seniors Tyler McCarthy (13), Matthew Murakami (11) and Ryan Hickey (10) also have double-digit steals on the year.
GW's pitching staff ranks fifth in the conference with a 3.13 ERA in league games. The Colonials' weekend starters - junior Luke Staub, junior Aaron Weisberg and freshman Max Kaplow, - have combined for a 12-9 record with a 3.32 ERA.
GW's bullpen has been reliable all season, helping the Colonials to an 18-1 record when leading after eight innings. The combination of senior Kenny O'Brien and junior Craig LeJeune have been the foundation of the back end.
O'Brien is 4-1 with three saves and 3.35 ERA in a team-leading 23 appearances.
Junior Craig LeJeune has transitioned from a long-relief man and spot starter to a dominant closer. The Bristol, Conn., native is 3-2 with a 2.97 ERA and 10 saves. He has 31 strikeouts against just seven walks in 33.1 innings pitched. His 10 saves this season are tied for third all-time in program history and are also tied as second-most in a single season.
Freshman Bobby LeWarne is 2-0 with a 3.29 ERA and 31 strikeouts in 38.1 innings of work.
GW is 22-22 all-time against Xavier after winning two-of-three games from the Musketeers last season.
Vinny Nittoli has powered the Xavier offense this season. He leads the team in RBIs (38), doubles (13) and home runs (5), with career highs in all three categories.
Mark Elwell is also a presence at the plate for the Musketeers, batting .337 with an on-base percentage of .425 to go with 34 runs.
Jon Richard is the projected starting pitcher for Xavier in Wednesday's game. He sports an 8-4 record with a team-best 2.34 ERA. He has struck out 63 batters against 24 walks in 96.0 innings pitched.