FAIRFAX — Fresh off a home victory against the James Madison Dukes, the Patriot’s mens baseball team stumbled 11-9 trying to capture the second game of the three-game series on Saturday at Spuhler Field.

The Patriots headed into the ninth inning tied at eight.   Patriots coach Bill Brown had some inspirational words for his Patriots going out in the ninth inning.

“You’ve got to focus on playing some defense and just try to get three outs clean,” Brown said.

But after a collision in the outfield cost the patriots a triple they weren’t able to recover.

“When you’re the home team, you’ve always got the last at bat, so you know what you have to do,” Brown said.   “We weren’t able to do it.   They started off on a ball where the two kids collided in the outfield.  That’s one of those fluke things where it turns into a triple right away and it’s tough to pitch out of that.   And then the one kid put a swing on the ball and got it up in the air enough and out it goes.  So all of a sudden you’re looking at making up three runs.”

With the score 11-8, the Patriots knew they needed to make some big plays to contend for the lead.

“So then you come back in and say if they can do it, we can do it,” Brown said.   “We swung the bat just as well as they did all day long.   And we got the tying run to the plate and quit honestly the winning run to the plate.   That’s all you can really ask of yourself at that point.   We had the opportunity to win and it just didn’t happen for us today.”

Senior outfielder Shane Davis had a triple and a home run at critical times to help the Patriots.   With a full count and two outs and with runners on first and third, Davis had his chance to put the exclamation point on an all-star day.   Unfortunately for Davis and the Patriots could not wrap up the game and series.

“Shane’s been spectacular for us,” Brown said.   “I mean, you saw what he did today.   You’re talking about a home run.   You’re talking about a triple; driving in critical runs.   He’s done that for us on a consistent basis.”

The Patriots will attempt to close out the series on Sunday at Spuhler Field.

“We have to win the series,” Brown said.   “We understand where we are in the league standings.   We are literally playing for our life every weekend.  We really emphasize coming in here and winning this series.   Madison is a good team, they have some injuries right now but they are a very good team.   And to have the opportunity to win the series is still encouraging.   If we can pull that off tomorrow we’ll look back and say this was a good weekend.”

Even with the loss to the Dukes, the Patriots still maintain a stellar home field record.   This game puts the Patriots at 9-4-1 at home.

“It’s a comfort level.  You’re familiar with, not just the field you play on, but your surroundings,” Brown said.   “You know you’re in your own locker room as opposed to traveling back and forth on buses.”

Bill Brown has been with many teams in his thirty years at George Mason University; but none quite like the one he has now.

“They all differ,” Brown said.   “This is kind of a team in transition.  At times it has been frustrating but we also have to temper that with the fact that this is a brand new team.   On the field right now, nobody played in the same position they did a year ago.   We don’t have anybody back.   We’re new all the way around.  It is tough because you have growing pains when that happens. And we have suffered some growing pains, but the flip side is it’s exciting.   You can see as you play you get better and you see what the future brings.”

The 2011 Patriots don’t have a lot of seniors on the roster, but they work with what they have got.   Senior pitcher Thomas J. O’Grady is playing his fifth and final season with the Patriots and his time has had its highs and its lows.   In 2009, O’Grady made just one appearance before suffering a season ending injury to his pitching-elbow.

“When you have Tommy John surgery it takes a while to come back,” Brown said.   “Normally it happens to someone early in the year.   It takes almost eighteen months to recover.   You can get back in twelve which puts you right back on the front end of the college season.  It is hard to do that so he has persevered.   That’s really almost a two year injury for a kid.   Now, obviously there’s a comfort level with how he throws.   He’s comfortable that he’s healthy and can do the things that he wants to do.   He’s back and I’m happy for him.  T.J. O’Grady has morphed into our Friday guy.   He was outstanding yesterday.   He’s the guy who gave us a chance to even win the series.   T.J.’s role has evolved.   He’s always been a bullpen guy for us but now he is the guy who starts off every weekend.”

With a good part of the season still remaining the Patriots are trying to maintain their composure.   They have already given up nine losses in the CAA and only have three wins.   They plan on improving that record, but for the time being they have to focus on the next game.

“Right now we have to live in the moment,” Brown said.  “There is nothing more important than what happens tomorrow against James Madison.   We understand the math.   We understand what we have to do.   We can make it a little bit easier on ourselves, as we move through the rest of the schedule, by winning the game tomorrow.  We just have to start somewhere and right now it is with winning a series.   We don’t have the luxury right now of thinking ahead even a week.”

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