Arm Strength

May 24, 2018

By Eric Detweiler, GW Athletics Communications

The Buff and Blue contingent had barely settled into the Tucker Field bleachers before Fordham loaded the bases Thursday against Nathan Woods.

The first-inning jam to begin the Atlantic 10 Championship elimination game served as a not-so-subtle reminder of what the GW right-hander already understood.

"That game I knew I had to grind it out," Woods said. "It's just having that grit on the mound and figuring out how to get three-up, three-down, whether it's a long fly ball or a strikeout."

That calm and collected attitude carried Woods in GW's 5-0 victory over third-seeded Fordham. The junior from Texas ended the initial threat by inducing a routine flyout and answered every challenge from there with the pitches he needed to blank the Rams. He got stronger as the game progressed, navigating seven hits, a walk and an HBP to register the first complete-game shutout of his Colonials career.

GW plays on at the A-10 Championship thanks to a pitching staff that has summoned its best with the season on the line. Since a loss to George Mason to start the tournament Wednesday pushed them to the brink, the seventh-seeded Colonials have collected themselves to eliminate two higher seeded opponents.

Woods' gem followed an equally impressive effort from Jaret Edwards and Will Kobos on Wednesday night against VCU. In total, the Colonials have yielded just one run over the 18 innings.

"It's incredible," said Dominic D'Alessandro, who finished a triple short of the cycle and scored three times in Thursday's victory. "The pitchers are doing their job, and then it's just up to the hitters to get it done."

Edwards set the tone, pitching into the ninth inning of the 4-1 victory over sixth-seeded VCU. The sophomore right-hander yielded nine hits but limited the Rams to just one run in his fifth victory of the season. He struck out five against two walks and let his defense handle the rest. The Colonials turned three double plays, each of them coming with their lead at 2-1.

After starting the season in the bullpen, Edwards has emerged as an ace in the making. The Ohio native battled his command early in his A-10 Championship debut before settling in to battle a VCU squad that beat him during the regular season.

Edwards was able to channel the emotion of the situation into one of his best starts of the season before turning it over to Kobos, who recorded his sixth save of the spring.

"I'm usually pretty relaxed when it comes to starting games, but when you get a game with that much hype, there's obviously moments of high intensity," Edwards said. "I really tried to stay relaxed, but I let it out a couple times."

Woods picked up where they left off, delivering another gem under pressure. The junior college transfer did it with his second complete game against Fordham in his first season with the Colonials.

The Rams put runners on in five of the first six innings, and six of the nine, but couldn't break through. They stranded eight runners in all.

Woods had battled his control in his final few starts of the regular season but managed to fix that issue Thursday by trusting his stuff.

"I don't get nervous," Woods said. "I seize the day. I take care of what I'm supposed to take care of. I've been playing this game for too long to get on that mound and have nerves."

GW still has a long climb ahead through the consolation bracket to challenge for the title, but the Colonials have passed two tall tests to remain in contention. Up next is a Friday showdown with No. 4 Richmond at 3:30 p.m.

After Woods finished off Fordham Thursday evening with a 1-2-3 ninth inning, the Colonials buzzed in their postgame huddle, clearly confident and feeling good. It was easy to understand why.

"This game's momentum," head coach Gregg Ritchie said. "The best way to get momentum? Fantastic pitching."



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