At the beginning of the college baseball season, George Washington players and supporters were telling anyone who would listen the Colonials would have a very good team.

The way GW played during the three-day Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference South Division tournament verified those preseason forecasts. Today, the Colonials defeated James Madison, 8-4, to finish a 3-0 sweep and earn their first NCAA national tournament spot in 20 years.

After the Colonials put together a five-run sixth inning to take an 8-3 lead, the loosey-goosey players began such antics as racing one another from the bullpen to the dugout, and the word "Omaha" began to be mentioned.

But before GW can make a trip to Nebraska for the college World Series, there is still the matter of the Eastern Regionals next weekend at a still-to-be-determined site. There, the Colonials will join Delaware and two at-large teams for another double-elimination affair that will send the top team to the final eight.

"We don't have many people slumping right now." said third baseman Jim Goss, who knocked in two runs today. "The defense is helping by making outstanding palys."

The Colonials pulled off three double plays today to down the host Dukes for the second time in three days. GW (21-7) has now won nine of its last 12 games. The Dukes, who finished the season with a 31-13 mark, had won eight of their last 10 home games, including two victories over highly ranked Clemson.

"(Kenny) Lake held them down the first game," said Goss of the Colonial pitcher-first baseman who limited the .323-hitting Dukes to eight singles Thursday. "They knew they had been purely beat. Madison had to have a case of the shakies after that."

The Colonials squeezed out two unearned runs in the top of the first thanks to an error by Duke second baseman Rob Krowiak. That helped keep alive the three-run inning that was capped by Lake's RBI single.

In the sixth, George Washington put it all together.

"I don't know what it is, but it seems like the sixth inning is always a big one for us," Goss said. The senior from St. Michael's, Md., was the seventh Colonial to come to bat in the inning. His two-run double gave GW a 7-3 lead.

Madison played as if it believed in a sixth-inning jinx for GW opponents. The Dukes used three pitchers during an onslaught of three doubles and a single. There were also two wild pitches and an error.

By the time the inning ended, GW was free to turn up its already considerable dugout decibel level and second baseman Drew (Country) Ingram (10 hits in three games) was at liberty to practice his duck walk.

The Colonial road show lives.