As MLB teams start spring training games this week in Florida and Arizona, Georgetown’s own baseball team heads down to Florida for eight games in the nine-day Rollins College Baseball Classic. The Hoyas enter the tournament coming off of a loss at Norfolk State after taking two of three games from George Mason.
The Hoyas have benefitted from a strong young pitching staff that complements their older teammates. Freshmen Charles Steinman and Neal Dennison each pitched more than four innings in the second game of a doubleheader against George Mason. Dennison struck out six hitters and picked up his second win.
“I’d rather not have to play any [freshmen] and be in a position where we have seniors and juniors on the field and mound, but we’re not there yet,” head coach Pete Wilk said, “Neal has been outstanding and from his first pitch he hasn’t shown any signs of being a first-timer in college baseball.”
In addition to strong pitching, Georgetown has shown the ability to battle through to the last play of the game. This was exemplified by the Hoyas’ back-to-back extra innings wins against George Mason in both games of the doubleheader. In the last game, the Hoyas were not victorious, but mounted a comeback in the late innings to close within one run after trailing by six runs halfway through the game.
“The late inning magic is coming from our strong senior class leadership and an effort by them to change the culture of teams in the past,” Wilk said.
Senior Captain Tommy Lee, who hit a home run in the third inning of the loss to George Mason, has provided such leadership.
“We’ve always spoken to them about playing all 27 outs and all nine, innings but they’ve taken it to heart, “Wilk said. “I give all the credit to captain Tommy Lee and his senior partners in leadership.”
As it stands, the team is just happy to be playing. After a storm prevented scheduled opponent New York Tech from making the trip down to play the Hoyas, the team was relieved to get an opponent in George Mason. Coach Wilk said he is frustrated by having to practice inside because of the weather.
“We’ve been outside with spikes in dirt on eight days and we’re 30 days into our practice period and season,” Wilk said, “It’s just a tough way to start a year.”
The loss against Norfolk State was tough but not entirely surprising considering the Hoyas’ youth. Coach Wilk thought the performance was fair, but admitted that his team struggled from a lack of hits, something he hopes will improve down the line.
The team can look forward to the Rollins College Baseball Classic with sun and heat replacing the rain, snow, and cold weather of D.C. Welcoming weather aside, they shouldn’t expect a leisurely warm-up in Florida like most MLB teams experience during spring training.
“These games count on our record, and when we have a chance to win the oldest college baseball tournament in the country, it’s way more important than the classic spring training in MLB camps,” Wilk said.