Baseball was the first sport for Hoyas. It’s been a part of the Georgetown experience for 157 years. Despite that, the program has never been to the College World Series. Hell, they’ve never even won a single BIG EAST Tournament game. Their home field isn’t on the Hilltop, and you’d be hard-pressed to find someone on campus who even knows that Georgetown has a Division I baseball team. Head Coach Edwin Thompson and this year’s team aim to change that.
Thompson did not have the easiest start to his career at Georgetown. He and his staff were brought aboard during the pandemic and, due to COVID-19 restrictions, they were not allowed to meet the players until March 2021. With just one week of practice under their belts, the season started. The team went 6-25. For all intents and purposes, it was a forgettable year. But 2021 was just an appetizer.
“There was a lot of uncertainty, but what we knew was that that first year playing really kind of laid the foundation for our program,” Thompson said. “We were able to focus on baseball development and culture, and obviously the results weren’t what we wanted . . . but I think in some ways it helped us because we were able to get to know the guys really well over that period.”
The seeds planted in 2021 blossomed into a masterpiece of a season for the Hoyas in 2022. The Hoyas won a program record 32 games, finishing the year at 32-24. They went from hitting just six homers in 2021 to hitting 98 (a program record); from 226 total bases to 925 (another program record); from 82 runs to 400 (just shy of a program record). They finished the season the highest they’ve ever ranked according to the NCAA’s rating percentage index (137th out of 301). They reached the BIG EAST Tournament for the first time in four years. But most importantly, it was Georgetown’s first winning season since 1986—which, for those keeping track at home, was 36 years ago.
It’s no exaggeration to say that the 2022 season was absolutely historic.
“We knew we were a special group; there was a game [last year] we had like five home runs. We had six the entire ’21 season. So we know we had a good team,” Thompson said.
But as fantastic as the ’22 season was for the Hoyas, it ultimately ended in heartbreak. They were the first team eliminated in the BIG EAST Tournament and ended up missing out on the College World Series.
“My goals every year are simple: Win the regular season championship,” Thompson said. “And if we don’t do that, make sure we’re in the top four to qualify for the [BIG EAST] Conference Tournament. And then plan on playing in the championship game on Sunday.”
Luckily for Thompson and his squad, Georgetown is returning eight of their nine starters, including graduate outfielder Ubaldo Lopez, junior outfielder Jake Hyde, and reigning unanimous BIG EAST Freshman of the Year catcher Owen Carapellotti—the first time a Georgetown freshman had ever taken home the award. Both Lopez and Hyde set a program record, each having 19 homers last year, and will be the anchors of the Hoya lineup this year. And all Carapellotti did in his rookie campaign was hit a cool .282 AVG/.396 OBP/.552 SLG with eight homers while also handling a diverse pitching staff as the primary catcher for the Hoyas. And, oh yeah, he was a freshman!
“It was awesome,” Carapellotti said of his breakout 2022 season. “I just bought into the way [the coaching staff] was going about things and trusted their ways and they trusted me to do what I do and it ended up working out.”
Carapellotti attributes much of the team’s success in 2022 to the camaraderie in the Hoya dugout. “When you’re catching your friends, it’s so much easier to be on the same page. You understand them more as a person, and you know how they think.”
After the 2022 season, expectations are high. The Hoyas aren’t going to be punching up anymore. In the preseason coach’s poll, Georgetown is projected to finish fourth in the BIG EAST, which would set the Hoyas up for their first-ever back-to-back BIG EAST Tournament appearances. And although these expectations coincide with a tough projected schedule—multiple marquee matchups against No. 13 University of Maryland, Penn State, Navy, and local rival George Washington—Thompson and the Hoyas are not fazed. In fact, they welcome the challenge.
“Do we expect to double our wins every year? No, that’s not realistic, but do we expect to be competing for a BIG EAST championship every single year? Absolutely, that’s what I expect,” Thompson said.
One of Thompson’s tenets is staying motivated and finding that inner drive for greatness. “You can either be hungry, satisfied, or starving. We want to be starving. We want to make our own mark this year.”
Thompson harps on the details. He wants his guys to give 110 percent each and every time they step out onto that field. If they lose, then so be it, but they sure as hell aren’t going to beat themselves.
“Nobody’s gonna win every game, but everybody wants to be as close to perfect as possible. [The coaching staff] preach on not missing the cookies—not missing the fastball,” Carapellotti added. “We need to stay hungry.”
The Hoyas are going to do everything they can to get back to the BIG EAST Tournament and potentially beyond. But that comes one pitch at a time. And, instead of five “home” ballparks last year (yes, five different parks across the DMV), they’ll have a permanent home this year at the Washington Nationals Youth Baseball Academy. With the season starting on Feb. 17 in Cary, North Carolina vs. Presbyterian, Georgetown isn’t just hungry to show that last year wasn’t a fluke. They’re starving.