Feb. 14, 2013
WASHINGTON - The Georgetown University baseball team hopped on a bus on Thursday afternoon and are headed to South Carolina, where the Hoyas open the 2013 season on Friday, Feb. 15 against Wofford, the first of three games to be played at Harley Park in Spartanburg, S.C. First pitch is slated for 4 p.m.
The Blue & Gray are one of four teams playing at Harley Park, the home field of USC-Upstate. They are joined by Niagara and Kentucky and will be single games over the course of the weekend. Georgetown plays on Saturday, Feb. 16 against UNC-Asheville (noon) and then close out the weekend on Sunday, Feb. 17, playing the host USC-Upstate at 1 p.m. ` The 2013 Hoyas return 21 letterwinners and a strong nucleus of contributors from last year's squad, which finished mere percentage points away from a postseason berth and Head Coach Pete Wilk believes this year's team can take that next step and earn a BIG EAST Tournament spot.
"The goal is always to make the BIG EAST Tournament," Wilk said. "We lost some very key seniors last year and I wasn't sure what to expect this season, but we ended up having a really good Fall and a very impressive scrimmage against Virginia. I think we're as prepared as the weather has allowed us to be, but we're really excited and looking forward to this season."
At first base, junior Steve Anderson (Albany, N.Y./Guilderland) will be the starter and counted on for middle of the order production, coming off a productive summer and league championship with the Newport (R.I.) Gulls. Second base will be manned by previous utility player and senior Danny Poplawski (Bellevue, Wash./The Overlake School), who will rely on his good hands and playmaking ability to transition into the middle of the infield.
Shortstop will feature a new face to the Hoyas, as freshman Curtiss Pomeroy (Shrewsbury, Mass./Phillips Andover) will take over for First Team All-BIG EAST selection and Major League Baseball Draftee (Milwaukee Brewers) Mike Garza. Pomeroy has a tremendous arm and will provide a pesky bat at either the top or bottom of the lineup. The "hot corner" will be taken over by sophomore Ryan Busch (Falcon Heights, Minn./Roseville Area), who saw limited time playing behind Garza at shortstop. Another fixture in the infield this year will be utility man Trevor Matern (Santa Clarita, Calif./Hart), who can provide a steady glove at different positions.
Senior Justin Leeson (Exton, Pa./West Chester), who is coming off an All-BIG EAST Third Team selection last year, and a strong summer in the Cape Cod League with the Bourne Braves, will anchor an outfield that has played extremely well in intra-squad scrimmages throughout the fall and spring.
With Leeson in center, the corner positions will be manned by a three or even four man rotation as the season starts. Senior Paul Bello (Towaco, N.J./Delbarton) returns to left field and will provide great defense and gap-to-gap power at the top or bottom of the lineup. Bello will be joined in left with senior Corbin Blakey (Alpharetta, Ga./Centennial), who will provide a much needed bat and production in the middle of the lineup. Right field will be manned by junior Christian Venditti (Newtonville, Mass./St. Sebastian's School), who has a very strong arm and will contribute to the power attack in the middle of the lineup. Venditti could be joined by redshirt sophomore Justin Abbott (Raleigh, N.C./Millbrook) when he is not in the designated hitter position. Abbott, a pitcher when he joined the Hoyas, has successfully been converted into a very pesky hitter who can spray the ball to every field, and will be a tough out at the top or bottom of the order.
The Hoyas will be young at the catcher position after losing Kevin Johnson from a year ago. There are, however, capable options who will have an opportunity to win the job. The primary catcher battle will be between freshmen Eric Webber (Stockton, Calif./Saint Mary's) and Nick Collins (Carthage, N.C./Union Pines). Webber is a very strong defensive catcher with good knowledge of the game. Collins is a strong presence from the left hand side of the plate, with tremendous power to all fields. Collins and Anderson will be counted on from the left side to provide the power in the lineup and clean up any runners on base.
When Collins is not catching he will be in the mix to get at-bats in the designated hitter position, along with Abbott and Blakey.
On the bump, Wilk and Associate Head Coach/Pitching Coach Curtis Brown will welcome back starters, senior left-handed pitcher Thomas Polus (Crown Point Ind./Andrean) and redshirt sophomore Jack Vander Linden (Dallas, Texas/Episcopal School of Dallas). Polus started eight games last season and made 16 appearances, finishing the season with a 1-5 record and a 6.75 earned run average. He is hoping to retain the form of his 2011 season, when he posted a 3.49 earned run average in five starts. Vander Linden tied for the team lead in wins last year and finished the season with a 5-2 record and a 4.13 earned run average in nine starts.
Joining them will be projected Saturday starter sophomore left-handed pitcher Matt Hollenbeck (Horsham, Pa./Hatboro-Horsham). Hollenbeck did not make a start last season, but appeared in 16 games with a 4.26 earned run average.
Out of the bullpen, the Hoyas will be led by veteran senior right-handed pitchers Charlie Steinman (Rockville Centre, N.Y./Chaminade) and Neal Dennison (Houston, Texas/Lamar). Those two have been reliable arms, both in the rotation and out of the bullpen, during the last two years and Wilk and his staff hope for the same results in 2013. Steinman logged a team-high 26 appearances last year and went 4-5 with a 3.05 earned run average. Dennison made 12 starts last year and went 4-3 with a 6.19 earned run average, but saved four games went 2-3 during the 2011 season.
Joining Steinman and Dennison in the back end will be middle reliever, senior right-handed pitcher James Heine (Chapel Hill, N.C./East Chapel Hill). Heine made 20 appearances and posted a 5.70 earned run average last year.
Junior left-handed pitcher Patrick Camporini (Safety Harbor, Fla./Clearwater Central Catholic) will provide valuable innings and serve as a spot reliever mostly against left-handed batters.
The Hoyas will also be counting on their underclassmen coming out of the bullpen. Sophomore right-handed pitcher Will Brown (Chesterfield, Va./Matoaca) who will be in middle relief and could see some starts.
The freshman that could see action are right-handed pitcher Tim Davis (Vienna, Va./James Madison), left-handed pitcher Gino Basso (Glen Allen, Va./Godwin), RHP Jordan Chudacoff (Highland Park, Ill./New Trier) and RHP Matt Smith (Cranberry Twp, Pa./Seneca Valley), who could also see some starts.