Feb. 21, 2008
WASHINGTON, DC - George Washington baseball opens their 2008 season this weekend at the Courtyard by Marriott Baseball Classic, hosted by USC Upstate in Spartanburg, SC, where they will face Tennessee-Martin, New Jersey Institute of Technology and the host-school Spartans.
The tournament begins on Friday, but action for GW will start with two games on Saturday, Feb. 23. The Colonials face NJIT at 11:00 a.m., and then take on UT Martin at 6:00 p.m. On Sunday, GW will battle the host of the tournament, USC Upstate, at 2:00 p.m. All games are played at Harley Park, in Spartanburg, SC.
George Washington was 23-31-1 overall in 2007 and 14-13 in the A-10, finishing just one spot out of the conference tournament, despite ending the year with a season-best six-game winning streak. It was their 14th straight season with at least 20 wins.
2008 Season Preview:
George Washington University has consistently fielded one of the premier teams in the mid-Atlantic region over the past decade, and the 2008 version of the Colonials will look to build on that outstanding tradition. GW comes off an exciting conclusion to the 2007 season, in which the Colonials won their final six games to finish the year with a 23-31 overall record and a 14-13 Atlantic 10 Conference mark. In 2008, the squad will have a more seasoned look with the return of seven players who started at least 33 games last year. However, the Colonials did lose four key players from last year's squad due to graduation, including shortstop Michael Parker, an All American who was drafted and signed by the New York Mets. Catcher Whitey Wallace and OF/3B Mickey Shupin, who finished his career as GW's all-time leader in stolen bases with 79, are the other two starters who have moved on from Foggy Bottom. On the mound the 2008 Colonials will be without the services of Derek Haese, who served as a staff leader and had another fine season for the Colonials in 2007. Despite the loss of Haese, the 2008 pitching staff will remain experienced, with seven pitchers returning with game experience, as well as the addition of three new arms.
Head Coach Steve Mrowka
is excited about the 2008 version of the Colonials. "Our pitching and defense will be our strengths this year. This is the type of team GW followers have come to expect." Over the past six seasons, the program has recorded 209 wins and has had 20 players sign professional contracts. The 2008 Colonials have the potential to surprise many people as they seek their eighth trip to the NCAA tournament.
The success of the 2008 Colonials will depend on the strong arms of the pitching staff. The squad will be made up of eight returning pitchers and three new recruits. Senior RHP Brian Frazier struggled with injuries in 2006-07, but should be ready to lead the Colonial staff this year. Junior RHP Pat Lehman was 4-5 in conference play in 2007 and is a prime candidate to be one of top arms in the weekend rotation. Sophomores Ryan Lapointe (5-3 record in 19 appearances) and LHP Bobby Lucas (25 appearances) are two outstanding arms that are capable of pitching important innings in 2008. A big addition to the staff will be the return of red-shirt sophomore RHP Justin Dignelli, who is battling back from arm surgery. He had arm trouble his first two years, but looked impressive this fall. Jimmy Duggan, a junior RHP (1-2 in 18 appearances in '07), had an impressive fall in the closer role and will continue to contend for that position. Other relievers that will fight for time on the mound are sophomores Faizan Choudhry (3-0, 4.22) and Chris Davis (12 appearances).
The new additions to the staff are lead by transfer LHP Chris Neary (Scottsdale CC). He is a very crafty pitcher with the ability to be a conference starter. Freshman RHP Eric Cantrell (Oak Hill, VA) was this fall's biggest surprise. He showed great composure and should be a contender for a starting role. RHP Tommy Gatley (Reston, VA) also had a good fall and will add depth to the staff.
Senior Andrew Abokhair returns to the starting line-up where he started 98 games over the past two years. Abokhair provides steadiness, solid hitting and leadership behind the plate. Sophomore Will Cooper has made excellent strides and will also be called upon to spell Abokhair. Junior Andrew Haberern has a good bat and power at the plate, and will split time between catcher, outfield and designated hitter. Freshman Oliver Killoren (Tampa, FL) has shown an excellent arm as he works to master his skills behind the plate.
Junior Tim Reeves, who started 35 games in 2007 and has the ability to provide excellent defense, has improved his offense for 2008. Pushing Reeves is sophomore Curtis Eward, who was named to the A-10 All-Rookie team in 2007. Both Eward and Reeves are team leaders and will see time at both first base and designated hitter.
The battle for playing time at shortstop and second base is not over and will come down to three players. Sophomore Tom Zebroski, a conference All-Rookie selection in 2007, hit .314 and started 48 of 52 games. Sophomore transfer Sean Rockey (Columbia Basin CC) and junior Bryan Hwang both had outstanding falls. Hwang was the everyday starter in 2006 and a utility player in 2007. He has worked hard to earn a starting job in the 2008 Colonial infield. Rockey, an established shortstop, should be a solid defender and a middle-of-the-order hitter at GW. Each player could find themselves at any infield position late in ball games. Freshman Brendon Kelliher (Sandwich, MA) swings a strong bat and adds excellent depth to the infield.
Junior Doug Eizen looks to take over the starting third base job. Eizen started 40 games over the past two seasons, but there is competition. Sophomore Chris Holland, who started seven and played in 22 games in 2007, brings a .325 average to the table and has only gotten stronger. Both Holland and Eizen are hard workers with the ability to be outstanding infielders. Brendon Kelliher, Bryan Hwang and pitcher Ryan Lapointe also have the skills to play the hot corner.
Anchoring the experienced outfield will be senior Charlie Kruer. In 2007, Kruer was one of the team's premier offensive players, leading the squad in home runs and finishing second in hits, doubles and RBI. After the season, Kruer was selected first team All-Conference for his efforts. In right field, red-shirt junior Gavin Swanson returns to the Colonials' line-up after starting 43 games in 2007. Swanson has good power and a strong arm. Juniors Matt Boyd and Chris Marsicano round out the top four in the outfield. Boyd brings excellent defense and speed on the bases, while Marsicano adds a solid left-handed bat with some power. All four of these players are strong and athletic enough to be outstanding players for the 2008 Colonials. Adding depth in the outfield is Andrew Haberern, freshman Ware Hart (Atlanta, GA), and sophomore Jon Chirumbolo. Chirumbolo is the ultimate utility player, in that he can play infield, outfield and pitch.
With three seasons at GW under his belt, a new group of recruits and his offensive and defensive systems now fully in place, Steve Mrowka enters his 15th season of coaching just four wins shy of his 500th career victory. In his fourth season at GW, Mrowka will guide the Colonials as they look to qualify for the conference playoffs for the 16th time in the last 21 years. Once there, GW will aim to return to NCAA regional play for the eighth time in the school's history. Pitching coach Bob Smith starts his first season with the Colonials and 16th as a college coach. Smith looks to help build upon past success and again rank in the top of the A-10 in ERA. In his third year at GW, Dan Hodgson has been promoted to recruiting coordinator and will work chiefly with the hitters, outfielders and base runners. Volunteer assistant Pat O'Brien, entering his first year in a Colonial uniform, will help mentor the catching corps and assist with hitting. He is an experienced and a talented young coach.
- GW -