Baseball: Tribe comeback not enough to down George Washington in 9-5 loss

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Luca Farina. COURTESY IMAGE / TRIBE ATHLETICS.

After William and Mary’s best comeback attempt of the season erased a three-run deficit to tie the match in the bottom of the fifth, the College couldn’t hold on for a win on Wednesday, as the Tribe (11-19, 1-5 Colonial Athletic Association) ultimately fell to George Washington (16-12), 9-5.

This weekday home match didn’t start out the way the Tribe would have planned it. After a scoreless opening three innings, the visitors hit three singles in a row to score, taking a 1-0 lead with zero outs on the board. The Colonials then managed to load the bases, batting in two runners with a single to make the game 3-0. George Washington managed to take advantage of a shaken Tribe defense by immediately grabbing two stolen bases to follow the tally. A ground out from the Colonials then got one of the runners home, increasing the visitors’ lead to 4-0 going into the bottom of the fourth.

The Tribe doesn’t have a good record with comebacks this season; the team has yet to win a game in which it has trailed after any inning. But the College didn’t waver in the face of a four-run deficit. The Tribe scored off a freshman infielder Matt McDermott single to get onto the board, then got senior outfielder Luca Farina home to cut the Colonials’ lead to 4-2, leaving the home team only two runs down going into the next inning.

The Tribe couldn’t keep George Washington off the board in the top of the fifth, allowing a runner onto base when he was hit by a pitch. The Colonials then eventually scored as a hit sailed by the glove of McDermott at second base, padding their lead to 5-2.

Down three in the bottom of the fifth, the Tribe found life when George Washington’s pitching began to struggle. Junior infielder Colin Lipke was hit with a pitch and junior catcher Hunter Smith was allowed a walk, putting Tribe runners on first and second. A throwing error then got Lipke all the way to third. A single from Farina scored Lipke, cutting the George Washington lead to 5-3.

George Washington’s pitching woes continued with a walk for junior outfielder Owen Socher, loading the bases for the Tribe. A pitching switch couldn’t keep the Tribe from getting home, as a wild pitch from the next player up on the mound sent Socher home, cutting the Colonials’ lead to 5-4.

The Tribe completed the comeback with a ground out from senior outfielder Craig McLane, getting Farina home to tie the game at 5-5. A four-run deficit that earlier in the game had looked almost insurmountable had now been erased.

Senior pitcher Christopher Lohr kept the Colonials off the board in the top of the sixth, giving the Tribe the chance to take their first lead of the game. But other than one walk, the College couldn’t find a way to get on base, and the game headed into the seventh inning still tied at five runs apiece.

In the top of the seventh, the game once again swung George Washington’s way as two hits earned the Colonials another two-run lead, 7-5. But the visiting team’s pitching troubles got them into hot water once again in the bottom of the frame, as three walks in a row loaded the bases for the College without any player having to connect for a hit.

But with three runners on base and only two runs needed to tie the match back up, the College couldn’t make anything of the play. The next Tribe batter up struck out, and then the final two outs were forced on an attempted play from McDermott, ending the inning with the Colonials still ahead by two runs.

After a scoreless eighth, George Washington took advantage of a few walks of the Tribe’s own to pad their lead to 8-5 in the top of the ninth. One final runner then stole home, adding insult to the College’s injury and again making the deficit four with a score of 9-5.

Going up to bat in the bottom of ninth and looking for four runs to keep the game going, the Tribe was once again able to get runners on base without needing a hit as George Washington walked the first two College batters, getting sophomore infielder Patrick Ryan and Farina on base with no outs. But despite Ryan getting all the way to third, the College once again couldn’t make anything out of the play and would finish the inning scoreless. The game would end in a disappointing 9-5 home loss.

Despite the fact that George Washington allowed a whopping 13 walks— by far the most any of the Tribe’s opponents have allowed it this season, the previous high being eight in a single game— the Tribe couldn’t make its fifth-inning comeback into a victory. With the loss, it will fall to 11-19 on the season, while its record at home will worsen to 8-10.

The College will look to build on this game’s comeback attempt in this weekend’s home series against CAA opponent Towson. This all-important matchup is one of only three home series against CAA opponents left this season, and will kick off this Friday at Plumeri Park.