WASHINGTON - The Georgetown University baseball team opens the season on Feb. 16 when it travels to Wake Forest University. As the first pitch of the 2018 campaign draws closer, GUHoyas.com will take an in-depth look at each of the team’s position groups. This edition looks at the three outfield positions, as well as catcher and designated hitter.
In the outfield, the Hoyas will be looking to replace a pair of starters, in Zach Racusin and Beau Hall, who started 55 and 51 games, respectively, in 2017. Senior Austin Shirley (Strafford, Pa./Conestoga), who has appeared in 111 games with 71 starts in his career, will open the season as the team’s starting left fielder. He batted .273 (9-for-33) in 34 games last year, making four starts in the outfield.
Sophomore Ryan M. Davis (Danville, Calif./San Ramon Valley), who started 26 games as a freshman at shortstop and second base, will transition to the outfield in 2018 and will see a majority of the playing time in center field to start the season. Davis hit .174 (19-for-109) with a home run and three doubles in 33 games last year.
Senior Michael DeRenzi (Mendham, N.J./Seton Hall Prep), an All-BIG EAST Second Team selection each of the past two years, will return to right field where he has started 103 of the past 109 games. Last season, he finished third on the team with a .330 (73-for-221) batting average, while leading the Hoyas with 44 RBI, 45 runs scored and 12 stolen bases and tying for second with five home runs.
Freshman Kai Nelson (New York, N.Y./Fieldston) will compete for playing time at all three outfield positions, while sophomore AJ Lotsis (Phoenixville, Pa./Episcopal Academy) and freshman James Gabor (Wyndmoor, Pa./William Penn Charter School) will provide added depth.
“Our outfield will be a showcase of athleticism this year,” said Head Coach Pete Wilk, who works directly with GU’s outfielders. “We lost two key starters from last year, but it is a luxury to return two experienced seniors in Austin Shirley and Michael DeRenzi. Ryan Davis has the tools and athleticism to be a premiere outfielder and just needs to get experience. Freshman Kai Nelson can really swing the bat and will have a chance to win a job at any three spots.”
At catcher, the Hoyas return their two backstops from a year ago in seniors Richie O’Reilly (Hermosa Beach, Calif./Loyola HS) and Sammy Stevens (Birmingham, Mich./Brother Rice). The two will continue to split the weekend catching duties. O’Reilly, who appeared in 46 games with 34 starts last season, batted .170 (17-for-100) with three doubles and 12 RBI. Stevens, who appeared in 46 games with 37 starts at both catcher and designated hitter, ranked fifth on the squad last year with a .283 (41-for-145) batting average and hit a team-leading 14 doubles to go along with four home runs and 36 RBIs.
Georgetown will have plenty of depth at the catcher position with sophomore Will Salomon (Greenwich, Conn./Brunswick) and freshmen Ryan P. Davis (Oak Hill, Va./Oakton) and Alex Gamache (Lake Forest, Ill./Lake Forest Academy) all vying for playing time behind O’Reilly and Stevens.
“Catcher is probably where we have the most depth among all of the field positions,” said Assistant Coach Nick Collins, who works with the team’s catchers. “It is great to have two experienced seniors who we can rely on, in Richie O’Reilly and Sammy Stevens, but we have three other options that can step in if need be.”
The designated hitter spot in GU’s lineup will come down to pitching matchups and who is currently swinging a hot bat. Stevens, a lefty hitter, will see the majority of time at DH with sophomore first baseman Freddy Achecar III (Atlanta, Ga./Lovett School), another left-handed hitter, will look to compete for at-bats against right-handed pitchers. From the right side of the plate, Salomon, Nelson and senior first baseman Bennett Stehr (Orinda, Calif./Miramonte) will battle for at-bats.
Check back in to GUHoyas.com next week for previews on Georgetown’s pitching staff.