Feb. 14, 2005
"The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers; it has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt, and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game, is a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good, and it could be again. Ohhhh, people will come, Ray. People will most definitely come." - James Earl Jones as Terrance Mann from the movie Field of Dreams.
The George Washington University baseball season last year can best be summed up in two words, unfinished business. The Colonials took the Atlantic 10 West Division with a 19-5 record while posting a 41-18 overall mark and set a program record with 14 consecutive victories. GW tore up opposing pitching as the Colonials led the A-10 in runs scored (432), home runs (78), RBI's (401), doubles (119), total bases (954) and slugging percentage (.482). GW even posted the conference's second best team ERA (4.09).
But the Colonials came up short in their quest for the A-10 Conference Championship and as a result became the only team in the country to win more than 40 games and not advance to the NCAA tournament.
The Colonials open their 2005 campaign Wednesday at Norfolk State University before traveling to Statesboro, GA this weekend to face Georgia Southern for a three-game series. GW's home opener is March 1 against Coppin State College. Here's a look at this year's ball club.
First year head coach Steve Mrowka takes over the GW baseball program after serving 11 seasons as the head coach at Georgia College & State University, a NCAA Division II program located in Milledgeville, GA. "I'm very excited to have the opportunity to coach baseball at an outstanding university like George Washington," Mrowka said upon his appointment. "I am eager to work with the competitive, high-quality student-athletes at GW and am looking forward to taking on the challenges at GW and in the Atlantic 10 Conference."
The Colonials return a solid core of pitchers from last year's squad as GW brings back arms that were responsible for more than 75% of its victories in 2004. Two starters who are coming off impressive 2004 seasons will anchor this year's staff. Senior LHP Dan Sullivan was selected to the A-10 All-Conference team last year after posting a record of 10-4 and an ERA of 3.82. Junior RHP Josh Wilkie (6-2, 2.77) led the conference in ERA. Both played major roles in the Colonials' success last season are expected to the same this season.
Also expected to contribute to the rotation are seniors Nate CasaGrande (2-0, 3.98) and Avi Rasowsky (6-1, 2.58), and sophomore Derrik Lutz (3-5, 3.55). As a freshman, Lutz led the A-10 and set the GW single season record in saves with 12. Lutz will move into the starting rotation and, along with CasaGrande and Rasowsky, will see much less time out of the bullpen and log a number of innings as a starter.
Two other returning pitchers expected to carry a number of innings are junior RHP Derek Haese (1.0 IP) and junior LHP Dan Pfau (4-1, 5.93). Both are talented pitchers who could fill both long and short relief roles as well as serve as spot starters. Throughout the fall workouts a hand full of new recruits had proved they are capable of performing important roles on the `05 staff. Freshmen Joel Brookens (Fayetteville, PA) and Brian Frazier (Allentown, PA) are both talented right-handers who could see action early in their careers. Junior transfer Justin Prinstein (Albion College) will add a lot of depth out of the bullpen the Colonials this year.
With senior Joe Michalski (.179-2-14) returning as the incumbent starting catcher, the question for coach Mrowka is who will serve as the number two back stop? Michalski, who will begin his fourth season as a starter, provides excellent defensive skills for the GW pitchers and defense. He will be expected to hit down in the order and counted on to drive in runs. Battling for playing time behind the plate will be junior Jay Quinn (17 AB's), red shirt freshman Whitey Wallace (Syracuse, NY) and freshman Andrew Abokhair (Ashburn, VA). All three of these players improved during the fall and will be asked to provide depth at the catching position.
Senior Ryan Roberson (.326-14-61) will make the transition from third base to across the diamond at first base for 2005. After finishing last season in the top five of numerous A-10 offensive categories, including hits (first with 76), home runs (third with 14) and RBI's (third with 61), along with possessing a strong glove and solid arm, Roberson will be a top player in the conference at his position.
Sophomore Bill Simpson (.270-8-24), freshman Gavin Swanson (Reisterstown, MD) and redshirt freshman Josh Goldberg (Albany, NY) could also see innings at first base. Each of the Colonials' first basemen can provide a lot of power for the offense. The coaching staff has worked out these players very hard and have been pleased with their defensive improvements.
GW is stacked with a very talented group of athletes to choose from to play in the middle infield. Earning the starting shortstop position is sophomore Michael Parker (24 AB's). Parker saw little action as a backup in 2004 but will be expected to hit at the top of the order to get on base and score runs in `05. Returning as the starter at second base is junior Tom Shanley (.332-5-36). The 2003 A-10 Rookie of the Year and All-Conference last year, Shanley should once again be an offensive force for the Colonials. Adding depth up the middle will be Goldberg, sophomore Mickey Shupin (.271-0-2) and freshman Keith Fier (Armonk, NY). All three athletes have good gloves and are excellent base runners. They could be key contributors as starters or off the bench.
Senior Geoff Milsom (.335-3-34) will make the move from shortstop to third base this season. Milsom is an excellent defensive infielder with a left-handed bat that will be relied upon to drive in runs in the heart of the Colonials' batting order. Seeing time as a back up could be Shupin, Goldberg, and Roberson.
The GW outfield returns its starting right fielder and centerfielder for 2005. Academic All-Conference Brad Rosenblat (.311-10-43) and Matt Owens (.279-5-20) will patrol right field and centerfield, repetitively, for the Colonials. Rosenblat can provide excellent defense and owns an above average throwing arm. Owens, a junior, is a left-handed hitter who posses a lot of speed and will bat at either the top of the order or at the bottom. Through the completion of fall workouts, the starting left fielders for the Colonials has not been determined. Second-year player Steve Santy (.231-0-5) and Goldberg, along with Swanson and freshman Charlie Kruer (Old Bridge, NJ) will all compete for playing time in left field.
Pitching coach and recruiting coordinator Jim Mason (Pennsylvania '89) comes to GW after serving in a similar role with A-10 foe Rhode Island. Hitting and defensive coach Darryl Morhardt (Coastal Carolina '87) previously served six years at Marietta College (Marietta, OH) after serving two years as associate head coach at Western Connecticut State College.
The Atlantic 10 Conference
The 2005 Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament will be held May 25-28 in Dayton, OH.
Predicted Order of Finish (as selected by the coaches)
West Division (2004 Overall/A-10 Record in Parentheses)
1. Richmond (33-24/17-7)
2. George Washington (41-18/19-5)
3. Dayton (25-28/11-13)
4. Duquesne (21-28/11-10)
5. Xavier (16-38/7-17)
6. La Salle (20-28/5-19)
1. Rhode Island (35-20/20-4)
2. St. Bonaventure (29-22/14-7)
3. Massachusetts (19-26/10-14)
4. Temple (23-26/10-14)
5. Fordham (25-27/13-11)
6. Saint Joseph's (10-44/4-20)