October 12 - With over a third of his roster turned over, Bill Brown felt it was critical that George Mason have a productive fall.
The longtime skipper feels his Patriots accomplished that, culminating team activities with today’s intrasquad scrimmage at Raymond H. “Hap” Spuhler field in Fairfax.
“We’ve had a fantastic fall,” Brown said. “I was excited to see what we did and how we played. We’ve had great practices all fall and we continued that right up until the end. I told the kids at the end of today that this was probably one of the best falls that we’ve had in a number of years.”
Brown, who will begin his 39th season as George Mason’s coach when his club opens its 2020 season in February, will have to replace six starters - including catcher Logan Driscoll (Lake Braddock), the No. 73 overall pick by San Diego in June’s Major League Baseball Draft - as well as top starting pitcher Jared DiCesare (Chantilly) from a team that went 19-35 overall and 5-19 in the Atlantic 10 Conference.
That process began over the past six weeks.
“This is when guys compete for jobs,” Brown said. “When they come back in January, we’ll have 17 days of practice and we’ll open up Feb. 14. There’s really not much time to win jobs, so it’s really done as soon as we get on the field after Labor Day until today.
“That’s really what they fall is about, it’s really about the competition as much as anything.”
Brown said sophomore right-hander Mason Posey (Brentsville District) had an impressive fall. Two local products, senior James Beasley (Battlefield) and sophomore Jared Lyons (West Springfield), have emerged as potential weekend starters. The staff be overseen by new pitching coach Shawn Camp, who pitched at George Mason before an 11-year MLB career and served the past five seasons as the pitching coach at Battlefield.
“Where we are pitching-wise, we’ve really seen some guys take some major steps forward,” Brown said. “Now a lot of this comes with maturity as well. For instance, a Mason Posey, last year as a freshman he went through some freshman stuff. Now he’s been lights out this fall. But the impact Shawn has, not just from the standpoint with his expertise in teaching pitching but is the aura that comes with him. The energy, the fun that comes with him, not only does that rub off on our kids but it impacts recruiting as well. And we’ve seen that already.”
Offensively, junior outfielder Cam Reckling, who hit .271 and started 52 of 54 games last season, looks ready to become an all-Atlantic 10 caliber player. “He’s swung the bat really well,” Brown said. “Lyle Miller-Green has swung it well, so there’s going to be a place in the lineup for him. And Scotty Morgan has shown some flashes, so that was good to see. From an offensive standpoint, we’ve pretty much seen what we thought we were going to see.”
Miller-Green, the NOVA Nine Player of the Year after leading Lake Braddock to the VHSL Class 6 state championship in the spring, also projects as an anchor in the bullpen. Morgan (Woodbridge) is coming off a big summer campaign with the Alexandria Aces in the Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League and Brown hopes will be a consistent left-handed bat in the middle of the order next spring.
Up the middle, junior second baseman Daniel Brooks (Spotsylvania) and shortstop Pete Nielsen (Madison), who transferred from Brigham Young after his two-year church mission, project as opening day starters. Cooper Mrowka, a 6-foot-4, 225-pound graduate transfer from UMass Amherst, looked good at third base and at the plate during today’s scrimmage.
Perhaps most-importantly as the Patriots look to return to their winning ways, Brown was happy to see his club get through the fall sans any major injuries.
“One of the things that’s really nice is that we got through the fall healthy, and that’s huge,” the coach said. “I remember one year here it was the last day and Garrett Driscoll threw it down between innings and tore his elbow. So you just hold your breath.”
Photos of, from left, Connor Baine, coach Bill Brown and Scotty Morgan by Joey Kamide