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Wong, GW blank Riverside

By Rick Ryan, Assistant Sports Editor

For a team ranked fifth in Class AAA, George Washington’s not been hitting the ball well lately. But Jeff Wong took care of all that Tuesday evening.

Wong, the Patriots’ junior right-hander, fired a six-inning three-hitter, striking out seven and walking none as host GW earned a 10-0 victory over previously torrid Riverside at Floyd B. Wilcox Field.

Clayton Anderson went 3 for 4 with a double and a sixth-inning home run for GW (10-6), but Wong’s work on the mound meant the Patriots didn’t have to break out the big sticks on this night.

“This is what he’s capable of,’’ said GW coach Chad Campbell. “We’ve known that since he was a freshman. That’s what we need out of him, and I’m glad to see that.

“His record says 2-3, but he really pitched a great game against [Cabell] Midland and he threw against a 5-A Florida team down in Florida and held them down until the sixth inning. He’s going to get the big games for us.’’

GW, stocked with plenty of experience and missing just one starter from last year, came into the game with only one regular hitting .350 or better. The Patriots managed nine on Tuesday, with Anderson’s the lone multiple-hit effort.

So they leaned on Wong, who allowed just five baserunners and stranded four of them in scoring position. His only potential blip came in the top of the second when the Warriors placed men on second and third with two outs, but Wong induced Jared Phalen to ground out to short.

“I try to have the mindset every game that I can come out and dominate,’’ Wong said. “Today I settled down pretty early, which is my biggest problem sometimes — I take a little while to warm up. But I was on from the get-go today.’’

GW got some help from Riverside (11-5), which had won six of seven coming into the game.

Warriors pitchers walked six and their team committed three errors — two dropped fly balls and a botched rundown — leading to three unearned runs. Also, another pop fly was lost in the lights and even two strikeouts helped produce a pair of early GW runs when Riverside catcher Andrew Massey had to throw to first to retire batters when the third strikes got away and runners advanced.

“One thing we’re preaching is we’re trying to build a culture of mental toughness,’’ said Riverside coach Patrick Vogelsang, “focusing on one pitch at a time — and I don’t think that was necessarily the case tonight.

“We can blame it on them, we can blame it on a million different outside things but we’re trying to build a program where the only ones to blame is us. I think we’re getting there. We’re getting close. But I think it showed tonight we’re not quite there.’’

Warriors lefty Brady Wilkinson took the loss, giving up six hits and five walks in five innings. Sam Stone went 2 for 2 and Derik Chestnut doubled for Riverside.

GW had five-extra hits out of its nine, with Garrett Vogelbach (triple), Austin Griffith (double) and Wong (double) providing the others. Carson Whiting also had three RBIs.

“We hadn’t been hitting the ball very well,’’ Campbell said. “Our team batting average is not what I expected it to be this year, and I think it’s something that’s just going to come. I think we’re going to start to see us hit a little bit.

“I saw some emotion from us tonight. They were excited to play and hopefully that helps us, too.’’

The game had a few testy moments early when Wong hit Riverside’s Chaz Davis in the back with a second-inning pitch. It was the third pitch in the at-bat that was inside, including a first offering that went well behind Davis.

When Riverside fans began to get rowdy, a call was made to the Charleston police department for officers to maintain security. One fan was ejected and the home plate umpire said he wanted to file charges against the man for verbal abuse.

Reach Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or rickryan@wvgazette.com.


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