Feb. 12, 2014
WASHINGTON - While Major League Baseball heads to Arizona and Florida for six weeks of spring training, in the world of collegiate baseball, spring arrives a few weeks earlier. The Georgetown baseball team opens its 2014 campaign this weekend with three games in North Carolina. The Blue & Gray will play Marshall on Friday, Wake Forest on Saturday and Towson on Sunday. All three games will be played at Wake Forest's Gene Hooks Field.
The Hoyas, who finished the 2013 season with a 25-28 overall record and 5-19 in the BIG EAST, return a veteran squad in 2014. Of the 28 student-athletes on this year's squad, 18 were on the team last year, including six position players who started 30 or more games as well as eight members of the last season's pitching staff.
First Base: Senior Steve Anderson (Albany, N.Y./Northfield Mt. Hermon Prep (Mass.)/Guilderland) has been the Hoyas' primary starter at first base for each of his first three seasons. Last season, Anderson hit at a .274 clip, batting in the middle of the order, and was third on the team with both 51 hits and 25 RBI. He was also tied for second with three home runs.
Second Base: The Hoyas will have to replace Danny Poplawski who started 52 of 53 games at second base in 2013. Freshman Jake Kuzbel (Ashburn, Va./Stone Bridge) has an inside track for the starting job after having a strong fall and winter workouts.
Shortstop/Third Base: Junior Ryan Busch (Falcon Heights, Minn./Roseville Area) and sophomore Curtiss Pomeroy (Shrewsbury, Mass./Saint John's/Phillips Andover) both saw significant playing time last season on the left side of the infield. In 59 games in his two seasons, Busch is a career .201 hitter. Last season, Busch started 35 games at shortstop and 12 games at third base. He also led the Hoyas, getting hit by a pitch 17 times, and tied for the team lead with 14 stolen bases. Pomeroy hit .264 in his freshman campaign, appearing in 40 games with 32 starts. He made 18 of his starts at shortstop, 10 as the designated hitters and four at third base.
Sophomore Eric Webber (Stockton, Calif./Saint Mary's), who caught 31 games last year and served as the designated hitter for nine others, has added third base to his repertoire and will add depth at that position. As a freshman in 2013, Webber hit .204, with a team-high 25 walks for a .333 on-base percentage. He also threw out 15 potential base stealers.
Catcher: Nick Collins (Carthage, N.C./Union Pines) and Webber split time last season behind the plate for the Hoyas. Collins led the Hoyas with a .333 batting average. He started 45 of the 47 games he appeared in last season, with 22 starts coming behind the plate and 23 starts as the team's designated hitter. He finished the year second on the Hoyas in both hits (59) and RBI (30) as well as tied for second in home runs (3). Collins also had team highs with both a .441 slugging percentage and a .383 on-base percentage. AC Carter (Winter Park, Fla./Orangewood Christian), a junior transfer after a year at the University of Notre Dame and a year at Seminole State College of Florida, will vie for time behind the plate. Over this past summer, Carter led the Florida Collegiate League with a .354 batting average.
Additionally, sophomore Joe Sleiman (Windermere, Fla./Lake Highland Prep) will add depth behind the plate for the Hoyas.
Left Field/Center Field: Arguably the biggest offensive loss for the Blue & Gray, Justin Leeson manned center field for the past four seasons, including all 53 games in 2013 when he was named the team MVP. Additionally, Paul Bello and Corbin Blakey, who both platooned in left field, also completed their careers on the Hilltop. Senior Justin Abbott (Raleigh, N.C./Millbrook) and sophomore Evan Ryan (Omaha, Neb./Creighton Prep) both saw playing time in the outfield last season and will battle for a starting role in 2014. Freshmen Joseph Bialkowski (Raleigh, N.C./Needham B. Broughton) and Beau Hall (Seaville, N.J./Ocean City) will also compete for playing time in the Hoyas' outfield. Senior Patrick Camporini (Safety Harbor, Fla./Clearwater Central Catholic), who has pitched the last three seasons out of the Hoyas' bullpen, played some outfield this fall and will add depth to the corner positions.
Right Field: Christian Venditti (Newtonville, Mass./St. Sebastian's School) returns for his senior season after starting 43 games in right field in 2013, and five Georgetown's designated hitter. Venditti led the Georgetown offense last year with seven home runs and 36 RBI and was also second with 10 doubles.
Rotation: Jack Vander Linden (Dallas, Texas/Episcopal School of Dallas) returns as the Hoyas' top starting pitcher having made a team-high 13 starts last season, finishing with a 3-5 record and a 4.13 ERA. In two seasons, Vander Linden is 8-7 with a 4.13 ERA in 135 innings.
Junior Matt Hollenbeck (Horsham, Pa./Hatboro-Horsham) was right behind Vander Linden, making 12 starts in 13 appearances last year. He went 1-6 with a 4.81 ERA in 58 innings.
Sophomore Matt Smith (Cranberry Twp., Pa./Seneca Valley) made 14 appearances as a freshman, including nine starts. He finished with the second most innings pitched (57.1) while compiling a 3-4 record and 5.02 ERA.
Junior Will Brown (Chesterfield, Va./Matoaca) appeared in 16 games last year, including making three starts. He was 3-2 with a 4.26 ERA and will see time in both roles again in 2014.
Sophomore Tim Davis (Vienna, Va./James Madison) is the top returning reliever for the Blue & Gray, going 1-0 with a 3.20 ERA in 23 appearances as a freshman last year.
Max Allen (Highland Park, Ill./Highland Park), a redshirt sophomore, returns after missing the 2013 season and should provide a boost to the bullpen. Additionally, Camporini, who will also continue to pitch, and sophomores Gino Basso (Glen Allen, Va.) and Jordan Chudacoff (Highland Park, Ill./New Trier/Lawrenceville) will add some veteran leadership to a pitching staff that includes five freshmen.
The 2014 Hoyas have teamed up with the St. Baldrick's Foundation for the spring season to help raise money for research to cure childhood cancer.
The St. Baldrick's Foundation is a childhood cancer charity funding research to help kids diagnosed with cancer. The Foundation raises money primarily through head-shaving events. Volunteers, sponsored by family and friends, shave their heads in solidarity with children who typically lose their hair during cancer treatment. Last year, St. Baldrick's raised over $34 million dollars, and the team plans to contribute to their 2014 success.
Members of the 2014 Georgetown team have pledged to shave their heads following the Hoyas' April 5th game against Xavier at Shirley Povich Field. The Blue & Gray plan on honoring local kids who are fighting this terrible condition as well that day. The team's goals include becoming the most successful athletic team to partake in a St. Baldrick's event, as well as place in the top 10 in their history.
To donate to their efforts please click here.