George Washington, the area's hottest team, had not played many close baseball games this season and Coach Mile Toomey was concerned how the Colonials would fare in a tight situation.
He need not have worried. Although GW had its big bats almost silenced yesterday by Maryland pitcher Pete Sinopol, the Colonials made the most of their hits, received some timely relief pitching and won, 4-2, at Maryland's Shipley Field.
The triumph was the ninth in a row for GW, which opened its season with two losses. Snakebitten Maryland, which three times has dropped games after entering the ninth inning with a lead, fell to 4-9-1.
The Colonials exude confidence. Following a 15-1 shellacking by North Carolina State in the second game of the season, GW held a team meeting and "let it all hang out," according to center fielder Tino Monaldo.
"Everybody's now putting out for each other," said Monaldo. "We know we can win if the game is close. It wasn't like that before."
Not that the Colonials have faced many close encounters during the winning streak. They have won by margins as high as 30 runs, averaged 11 runs per game while holding opponents to two, and had raised the team batting average to a tofty .352 entering yesterday's game.
"This is probably the best team GW's ever had," said senior second baseman Drew (Country) Ingram. "We don't have many power hitters, just a lot of guys who meet the ball.
Ingram has driven in a team-high 22 runs and leads the squad in total bases with 26. He said his brown belt karate training has helped his bating, and at .429, is one of five colonials hitting above .400.
Other Colonials prepare for games in their own fashion, according to Ingram.
"There are a couple of guys-I won't mention names-who have to drink a case of beer of loosen up for games." He said. "They play pretty well, too."
Monaldo, who is known as "City" by the nickname-happy Colonials, got things started yesterday with a two-out double to left field that drove in GW's first two runs in the eighth inning.
Hird baseman Jim Goss then unloaded on a knee-high fast ball for a two-run homer over the left-field fence and a 4-0 Colonial lead.
Maryland third baseman Billy Owens retaliated in the bottom of the inning by driving in two runs with a bloop single to right. Colonial reliever Bobby Keith, who had come in one out earlier with the bases loaded, then forced Bob Zavarick to rly to center, stranding two Terp base runners.