JaKKKKKKKKKKe: Agnos Sharp Again, K’s 10 in No. 19 ECU’s Shutout of Marist

March 8 - Jake Agnos fanned 10 over seven scoreless innings, reaching double digits in strikeouts for the second time in three starts as No. 19 East Carolina opened its weekend series with a 5-0 win over visiting Marist earlier today.

Agnos, the 2016 NOVA Nine Player of the Year from Battlefield, scattered four hits and walked one while improving to 2-1 and lowering his ERA to 2.78. The Pirates (10-5) took a 1-0 lead in the fourth, then gave the junior left-hander all the cushion he’d need with a three-run fifth.

Marist had just one base runner advance to third base against Agnos, who didn’t allow any runners to reach scoring position after the third. Zach Barnes and Cam Colmore each tossed an inning in relief to close things out for ECU, which split two midweek games against No. 7 Mississippi State and No. 15 Mississippi on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively.

"I thought I did a good job of settling down as the game went on," Agnos told 247Sports.com. "Got behind a lot of guys early in the game and I think if I get rid of those, I can go eight or nine innings.”

Added Pirates coach Cliff Godwin: “He attacked the strike zone, more than he has in the past. We still want him to continue to do that. I thought the pitch count was a little high in the middle innings from what we wanted. But he got stronger as the game went on, which was good.”

Agnos’ outing nearly mirrored his effort on Feb. 24 against Monmouth, when he fanned 11 while permitting four hits and one walk over seven scoreless innings in a 10-0 win. The southpaw, who pitched last summer with the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team, has 34 strikeouts to just six walks in 22.2 innings. His 5.7:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio is a marked improvement from his 2.3:1 ratio in 2018.

Agnos’ next start is likely to take place when ECU travels to Maryland for a non-conference series next weekend.

Photo of Jake Agnos courtesy of East Carolina Athletics

Roll Tribe: Locals Help William & Mary to Best Start Since '04

March 7 - It certainly hasn’t taken Zach Tsakounis long to adjust to college hitters.

The freshman left-hander from Arlington, a two-time first-team All-WCAC selection at St. John’s (D.C.), improved to 3-0 after striking out eight over five scoreless innings on Tuesday as William & Mary blitzed host Norfolk State, 17-2, for its sixth consecutive victory.

Tsakounis is carrying a 0.56 ERA through his first three appearances with the Tribe (9-1), who are off to their best start since winning 10 of their first 11 games in 2004. The southpaw was named the Colonial Athletic Association’s Rookie of the Week after limiting Virginia to one run in 6.1 innings in emergency relief during a 9-3 win in Charlottesville on Feb. 26, and he’s compiled 17 strikeouts to just three walks in 16 innings.

“Zach’s been good in all three [outings] and obviously against UVA he was very, very good,” William & Mary coach Brian Murphy said. “He just gives the hitters a lot to think about, he commands multiple pitches. He certainly hasn’t looked intimidated by anything we’ve thrown at him at this point, and he’s been composed every time he’s been out there.”

In Tuesday’s win, Tsakounis had plenty of support from a William & Mary lineup that banged out 18 hits, including four by second baseman Matt McDermott, the reigning CAA Player of the Week. Three local natives - freshman center fielder Jack Cone (South County), redshirt senior shortstop Kyle Wrighte (Freedom-South Riding) and senior Jason Waldman (Fairfax) - combined for seven hits and nine RBI.

Cone, Wrighte and Waldman have taken interesting paths to their current roles.

Cone, a two-way recruit who set the Stallions’ school record by hitting .493 last year, won the starting nod in center field during the preseason. The Tribe haven’t lost since he was penciled into the leadoff spot by Murphy prior to their 12-3 win over Sacred Heart on Feb. 24, and he tied a program record by scoring five runs in Tuesday’s game. “He hasn’t pitched yet, and part of that has been how our schedule has played out,” Murphy said. “He definitely will pitch, and he’s been really good in center field. He’s done everything we’ve asked so far.”

After starting at shortstop in 118 of the team’s 119 games in 2016-17, Wrighte didn’t play last season for undisclosed reasons. He’s returned to his post this spring and he has begun to heat up at the plate, going 8-for-14 over the past three games. “Kyle’s a really good player, he does a ton to help you win,” Murphy said.

Waldman, like Cone, was recruited as a two-way player and tossed two scoreless innings in the 2016 CAA championship game against UNC-Wilmington. But he suffered an arm injury that fall, missed the 2017 season after having Tommy John Surgery and is unlikely to throw another pitch for the Tribe, now utilized as a pinch hitter and first baseman.

Tsakounis and Cone aren’t the only freshmen from Northern Virginia contributing to the Tribe’s quick turnaround after going 15-39 last year. Matt Thomas (Lake Braddock) has become the regular right fielder and is hitting .269 with a .406 on-base percentage.

Meanwhile, Thomas’ former high school teammate, junior Wade Strain, is 1-0 with a 2.93 ERA in 15 innings as the team’s Friday starter - he’ll get the ball when William & Mary opens a home series with defending Big South champion Campbell tomorrow - and redshirt junior closer Chris Farrell (Flint Hill) has yet to allow a run. Two additional relievers, junior Jamie Sara (West Potomac) and sophomore Randy Prosperi (W.T. Woodson), have combined for seven appearances.

Senior outfielder Owen Socher (Madison), who slumped to .234 in 43 games last year after hitting .323 in 39 games in 2017, has seen limited playing time but remains an experienced option and will likely see more time once Cone is worked into the pitching rotation.

“We have found some ways to win,” Murphy said. “It’s been a good start, for sure.”

Photo of Zach Tsakounis courtesy of William & Mary Athletics

Dukes Rally, Beat Patriots in Midweek Clash in Harrisonburg

March 6 - Logan Driscoll connected on a three-run homer, but Fox Semones, Kyle Novak, Brady Harju and Kyle Hayes combined for seven hits and six RBI as James Madison spoiled Patrick Halligan’s second career start with a 10-7 win over George Mason yesterday in Harrisonburg.

The six players players were among the 11 from Northern Virginia high schools to take the field for the in-state rivals, who now link up each spring for a two-game home-and-home series played on weekdays after the Patriots left the Colonial Athletic Association for the Atlantic-10 Conference in 2013.

An RBI ground out by Novak (Madison), the 2018 NOVA Nine Player of the Year, and a two-run single by Semones (C.D. Hylton) helped the Dukes (8-4) build a 4-0 lead in the second inning on Halligan (Marshall), who was pulled after the third.

In the top of the third, Driscoll (Lake Braddock), who hit a walk-off homer to beat Princeton in the 10th inning on Sunday, cut Mason’s deficit to 4-3 with his third homer of the season in the third. The Patriots (6-4) then took a 5-4 lead the following inning when Scott Morgan (Woodbridge) scored on a passed ball and Cam Reckling came in on a wild pitch. They would extend their advantage to 7-4 in the sixth when Brady Klein singled home Reckling and Driscoll scored on a ground out by Tim Quinn.

The Dukes (8-4), who were swept in their three-game series at No. 14 Louisville last weekend, would rally behind a two-run single by Harju in the sixth and an RBI single by Novak in the seventh, then scored their final three runs on two wild pitches and an error to provide the game’s final margin. Pitchers from the two teams combined for six wild pitches on the afternoon.

"I was extremely pleased with how our guys responded to a tough weekend last week and being down,” JMU coach Marlin Ikenberry said in a release by the school. “I thought we hit the ball well today and I am pleased with the result … there are a lot of positives we can take out of this and use heading into the weekend."

Semones, Novak and Hayes (Madison) each had two hits for the Dukes, and Driscoll, Morgan and Daniel Brooks (Spotsylvania) had two apiece for Mason. The Patriots’ lineup also included left fielder Jared Lyons (West Springfield), with relievers James Price (Patriot) and Ryan Miles (Woodgrove) entering as the 10th and 11th players from Northern Virginia. Price was charged with the loss after surrendering three runs (two earned) in 1.1 innings.

Both teams will host non-conference series this weekend, with JMU welcoming High Point and Mason hosting Manhattan.

Photo of Fox Semones courtesy of JMU Athletics

College Notebook: Local Hurlers Help Key No. 3 CNU’s Undefeated Start

March 5 - Five area hurlers have played key roles on what has been one of the country’s top pitching staffs as undefeated Christopher Newport has risen to No. 3 in the latest Division III rankings.

In Saturday’s 11-5 win over visiting Marietta (OH), junior right-hander Teddy Herbert (Washington-Lee) posted four scoreless frames before running out of gas in the fifth, but still earned his second win as the Captains’ lineup reached double-digits in runs for the sixth time in eight games. In Sunday’s 14-1 drubbing of Gallaudet, junior Kyle Darmstead (Brentsville District) started and went three innings, sophomore Carter Strain (Lake Braddock) followed with three scoreless innings in relief, and Tyler Jumper (Robinson) pitched a perfect ninth.

Herbert has emerged as a starter after being used sparingly over his first two seasons at the Newport News school, posting 13 strikeouts over 11.2 innings. Darmstead, Strain, Jumper and Andrew Suppa (Robinson) - who earned the save in a 4-3 win over Randolph-Macon in a top-10 match-up last week - have totaled 17 strikeouts and posted a cumulative a 1.00 ERA in 18 innings over 13 appearances.

CNU’s staff has posted a 2.00 ERA in 72 innings under pitching coach Ron Frazier, who is in the first year of his third stint with the program. The Captains are at Eastern Mennonite today, then will host Hampden-Sydney on Thursday and Catholic on Saturday.

W&L’s Volpicelli Begins Sophomore Campaign With 8-Game Hitting Streak

Jason Volpicelli (Paul VI Catholic) had an eight-game hitting streak to open the season and the sophomore entered the week hitting .486 for Washington & Lee.

A middle infielder by trade, Volpicelli spent much of last season at third base and hit .300 in 150 at-bats during his rookie campaign at the Lexington school. He’s started the 2019 season as the Generals’ regular third baseman and has been one of the Old Dominion Athletic Conference’s best hitters, compiling five multi-hit games and nine RBI. He was tied for eighth nationally in base hits entering last weekend.

Volpicelli had back-to-back three-hit games in wins over Averett on Feb. 9-10 and totaled four hits and a career-high six RBI in a 15-13 loss at Pfeiffer (N.C.) on Feb. 16. He connected on his second career home run, his first of the season, on Feb. 21 at Emory. His hitting streak came to an end when he flied out as a pinch hitter in the ninth inning on Sunday at Ferrum.

Costello Homers Twice in The Mount’s Slugfest Win over Villanova

Zack Costello (Heritage) connected for two home runs and drove in three runs in Mount St. Mary’s 19-16 win over Villanova on Sunday in Port Charlotte, FL and the senior catcher entered today’s game against Georgetown with hits in each of the five games he’s played in.

Costello, who is 7-for-18 (.389) with six RBI, is in his second season with the Mountaineers after transferring from Frederick (MD) Community College. He hit .245 with a .388 on-base percentage and nine RBI in 98 at-bats last year. His best collegiate season came as a freshman at FCC in 2016, when he hit .270 with five homers and 35 RBI in 43 games.

Player of the Week: Zach Tsakounis, William & Mary (St. John’s/Arlington)

William & Mary freshman Zach Tsakounis (St. John’s) stymied Virginia in a midweek road victory and has been named the magazine’s Collegiate Player of the Week, sponsored by Northern Virginia Orthodontics.

The Arlington native struck out seven and allowed one run on four hits over 6.1 innings in Tuesday’s 9-3 win over the Cavaliers, and the left-hander is 2-0 with a 0.82 ERA in 11 innings entering this afternoon’s game at Norfolk State. He was named the Colonial Athletic Association’s Rookie of the Week.

Tsakounis was a two-time first-team All-Washington Catholic Athletic Conference selection at St. John’s, helping the Cadets win WCAC titles in 2017-18.

News & Notes: Kyle Wrighte (Freedom-South Riding) went 4-for-4 with a home run and two RBI as William & Mary completed a sweep of High Point and improved to 8-1 with an 8-6 win on Sunday. … Logan Driscoll (Lake Braddock) hit a walk-off home run in the 10th inning to give George Mason a 7-6 victory over Princeton on Sunday, giving the Patriots a series win over the Tigers. Driscoll went 2-for-3 with three runs, two walks a double and two RBI after going hitless in the first two games of the series. … Hank Biggs (Woodgrove) and Stephen Johnston (C.D. Hylton) combined to shutout New Rochelle (N.Y.), 7-0, to complete a doubleheader sweep on Saturday. Johnston also hit a grand slam in the game and is 6-for-12 with 10 RBI through four games. ... Brett Stallings (West Springfield) went 4-for-5 with a double, triple and two RBI in Frederick (MD) Community College’s 14-9 loss at Lincoln Land (IL) yesterday.

Sponsor: The magazine’s College Notebook is sponsored by the R&D Baseball Academy. For more information on the academy, visit its website at www.rdbaseballacademy.com.

Photo of Teddy Herbert courtesy of CNU Athletics

College Notebook: Halligan Overcomes Shaky 1st Inning, Earns Win in GMU Debut

February 28 - Patrick Halligan started and went five innings in his collegiate debut, earning the victory when Logan Driscoll’s RBI single in the top of the sixth gave George Mason the go-ahead run in a 4-3 win at Longwood on Tuesday.

The 6-foot-5 right-hander, a member of the 2018 NOVA Nine Team as a senior at Marshall, allowed three runs while striking out three and not walking a batter. All three runs and four of the Lancers’ five hits off Halligan came in the first inning, including a leadoff home run by Antwaun Tucker. He would settle down in the second, and retired 11 of 12 batters before Tucker’s one-out single in the fifth.

Three relievers - Austin Cabone, Jared Lyons (West Springfield) and James Beasley (Battlefield) - then combined for four scoreless innings as the Patriots (4-2) snapped a two-game skid. Lyons fanned five of the six batters he faced over two perfect frames, and Beasley earned his second save.

“Patrick gave us a quality start in his first appearance as a Patriot,” coach Bill Brown said. “It didn’t start the way we all envisioned, but he stayed composed, worked through the first inning and went on to give us five great innings that put us in position to win the game. His command of the strike zone was excellent and he competed like a veteran, [which is] exactly why we were confident in giving him the start.”

Leadoff man Brady Acker went 3-for-4 with a double to pace the George Mason bats, while third baseman Greg Popatak had his team-leading eighth RBI. The Patriots are scheduled to host Princeton in a three-game series this weekend, though inclement weather is in the forecast.

Dukes’ Harju Continues Torrid Start, Homers in Back-to-Back Games

Brady Harju (Battlefield) homered in his second consecutive game in Tuesday’s 5-4 win over the Virginia Military Institute, and the junior transfer has been James Madison’s top offensive player as the Dukes have won seven of their first eight games.

The first baseman is hitting .355 with a .432 on-base percentage, five doubles, two homers and eight RBI in his first season with James Madison after transferring from Frederick (MD) Community College. He has hit safely in six of eight games and has recorded four multi-hit games.

Junior right-hander Kevin Kelly (Paul VI Catholic) also continued his hot start, fanning seven while allowing two unearned runs over seven innings in Friday’s 5-3 win over visiting Lafayette. Kelly enters the weekend 2-0 with 14 strikeouts and has yet to permit an earned run in 11 innings.

The Dukes will get a big test this weekend, when they travel for a three-game series at No. 14 Louisville.

Player of the Week: Jake Agnos, East Carolina (Battlefield)

Jake Agnos matched his career high with 11 strikeouts over seven scoreless innings in Saturday’s 10-0 win over Monmouth and has been named the magazine’s Collegiate Player of the Week, sponsored by Northern Virginia Orthodontics.

The left-hander, who was named the American Athletic Conference’s Pitcher of the Week, scattered four hits, walked only one and struck out at least one batter in each of his seven frames in his second start of the season. Agnos is 1-0 with a 2.45 ERA and 15 strikeouts in 11 innings, and will likely start on Saturday against Wright State as the Pirates host the LeClair Classic this weekend.

At Battlefield, Agnos went 18-0 over his final two seasons while totaling 265 strikeouts in 129.1 innings. He was named the NOVA Nine Player of the Year as a senior in 2016.

News & Notes: Zach Tsakounis (St. John’s), a native of Arlington, struck out seven while limiting Virginia to one run on four hits over 6.1 innings of relief in William & Mary’s 9-3 victory in Charlottesville on Tuesday. … Andrew Suppa (Robinson) allowed a run but was able to get the final three outs to record the save in No. 7 Christopher Newport’s 4-3 win over visiting No. 4 Randolph-Macon on Tuesday. Mike Nickles (Colonial Forge) homered for the Yellow Jackets. … Wade Strain (Lake Braddock) struck out six while allowing one run on one hit over five innings on Friday for William & Mary (5-1), but his bullpen was unable to hold the lead in a 7-3 loss to Sacred Heart. … Jonathan Mahoney (Woodbridge) had nine strikeouts and allowed two unearned runs over seven innings, earning a no-decision in Norfolk State’s 4-3 loss to visiting NJIT on Sunday. The 6-foot-8 right-hander has recorded a 3.46 ERA and 14 strikeouts in 13 innings this spring. … This weekend, Mary Washington (1-1) is scheduled to host New Rochelle (N.Y.) for a three-game series beginning tomorrow, while incoming forecasted weather has forced Marymount (1-4) to cancel Saturday’s home doubleheader with Western Connecticut State. The Eagles’ home game on Sunday against Gettysburg remains scheduled for 1 p.m.

Sponsor: The magazine’s College Notebook is sponsored by the R&D Baseball Academy. For more information on the academy, visit its website at www.rdbaseballacademy.com.

Photo of Patrick Halligan by Jane Davis

Recruiting Notebook: Osbourn Park Frosh Shepard Commits to Hoosiers

February 27 - A.J. Shepard earlier this month became Osbourn Park’s second freshman catcher to commit to a Division I program before stepping on a high school field, announcing his intention to play at Indiana University.

The 6-foot, 175-pound backstop is part of the Yellow Jackets’ talented first-year tandem behind the plate, where he’ll compete for playing time with University of Virginia recruit Mason Balsis. Shepard is also listed as a corner infielder and outfielder.

He will become the first player from Virginia to suit up for the Hoosiers since Chris Behrens, a 6-foot-6 left-handed pitcher from Brooke Point who pitched at Indiana from 2001-04. Brad Edwards, a first-team All-Met selection as a senior at C.D. Hylton in 1998, pitched for three seasons with the Hoosiers prior to being drafted in the 16th round by the Baltimore Orioles in 2001.

As a member of the EvoShield Canes 2022 national team last year, Shepard hit .318 with 21 RBI in 31 games at Perfect Game events. He was 7-for-14 with five RBI to help the Canes win the WWBA 14U National Championship in Georgia in June, and went 8-for-15 with five doubles and 10 RBI over six games as they advanced to the semifinals of the Freshman World Championship in Florida in October.

Patriot’s Eikhoff, Briar Woods’ Cmeyla Shine at PBR’s Preseason All-State Showcase

Two of the area’s top juniors, Patriot shortstop and right-hander Riley Eikhoff and Briar Woods catcher Nathan Cmeyla, were among the top performers at Prep Baseball Report’s Preseason All-State Showcase earlier this month. The event was held over two sessions in Henrico and Ruther Glen.

Eikhoff, who has committed to the University of Virginia and is currently ranked No. 5 by PBR among the state’s Class of 2020 players, had his fastball reach 89 MPH and recorded a velocity of 85 MPH while throwing across the infield. The uncommitted Cmeyla, meanwhile, turned in the fifth-best pop time among catchers who attended the two sessions. His top time was recorded at 1.99.

Over 100 players participated in the showcase, which was attended by PBR and Major League Baseball scouts.

NCAA’s Recruiting Contact Period Begins on Friday

The five-month contact period for Division I and Division II coaches to contact high school underclassmen begins on Friday. College coaches have been under a quiet period since Nov. 16 - with a dead period from Jan. 3-6 - per the NCAA’s 2018-19 recruiting calendar.

During the contact period, Division I and Division II coaches can have “face-to-face contact with college-bound student-athletes or their parents, watch student-athletes compete and visit their high schools, and write or telephone student-athletes or their parents,” the NCAA states on its website.

A contact occurs anytime a college coach says more than “hello” while off the college’s campus. High school baseball players are able to take official visits to college campuses beginning on Sept. 1 of their junior year.

The contact period will run through July 31. The NCAA’s recruiting calendar does not apply to Division III coaches, who are not permitted to offer athletic scholarships.

Photo of A.J. Shepard courtesy of EvoShield Canes

College Notebook: Locals Help Spark JMU’s 4-0 Start

February 20 - Three starting pitchers from Northern Virginia started in victories over the weekend for a staff that has posted a 2.50 ERA, and three other area natives have combined for 15 hits and eight RBI as James Madison has jumped out to a 4-0 start.

Kevin Kelly (Paul VI Catholic) struck out seven in five scoreless innings and Nick Stewart (Rock Ridge) fanned seven in 4.1 innings in Friday’s doubleheader sweep of Norfolk State. On Sunday, left-hander Joe Williams (Battlefield) made his Dukes debut after missing the past two seasons with an injury and while sitting out a year after transferring from George Mason, tossing five scoreless innings in a 6-5 win over the Spartans.

“I was really happy for Joe today,” James Madison coach Marlin Ikenberry said in a release by the school. “He came out and was trying to find his rhythm early after not pitching for two years.

In yesterday’s 3-1 win over Longwood, designated hitter Michael Morgan (Paul VI Catholic) hit a go-ahead two-run triple in the fifth inning and first baseman Brady Harju (Battlefield) provided the final margin when he scored Morgan with a sacrifice fly later in the frame. "I am pleased with the way that our guys responded to being down in this ballgame,” Ikenberry said in the school’s release. “It was the first time that we had trailed this season and I think the guys handled that very well.”

Harju, a transfer from Frederick Community College, is 5-for-14 (.357) with three doubles and three RBI, while Morgan is 5-for-16 (.313) and paces the team with two triples and seven runs. Freshman second baseman Kyle Novak (Madison), the 2018 NOVA Nine Player of the Year, is off to a fast start in his rookie season with the Dukes. The left-handed swinging Novak has batted second or fourth in each game and is 5-for-15 (.333) with two doubles and three RBI.

James Madison, which had today’s game at Richmond cancelled due to snow, will host Lafayette for a three-game series this weekend.

Mason’s Driscoll Has Scouts’ Attention as Draft Stock Continues to Rise

George Mason junior catcher Logan Driscoll (Lake Braddock) homered over the 415-foot center field wall at Osceola County Stadium in Kissimmee, FL in a season-opening win on Friday and caught every inning as the Patriots swept their three games over Iowa, Marshall and Villanova.

The 6-foot-1, 195-pound backstop continues to gain the attention of Major League Baseball scouts, and George Mason coach Bill Brown said over a dozen were in attendance at each of the team’s games in Florida. “There were a ton of pro guys in to watch Logan play,” said Brown, who added that Driscoll’s homer struck three-quarters of the way up the batter’s eye. “A guy I know very well who has watched a ton of spring training games there said he’s only seen two or three balls go where he hit it … He did nothing to hurt his stock.”

Osceola County Stadium is the former spring training home of the Houston Astros and now serves as the home park for a Single-A Florida State League club. Driscoll was a first-team all-conference pick last spring and was named by Baseball America as the A-10’s preseason Player of the Year.

The Patriots’ 3-0 start is in stark contrast to the beginning of their 2018 season, when they dropped their first eight games before rebounding to finish 29-27 and advance to the Atlantic-10 Conference championship game.

“We ended up being a pretty good team, but our record really didn’t indicate it because we had started so poorly,” Brown said. “So our returners were really dialed in this weekend, and I’m proud of them for taking ownership of really wanting to start strong.”

Senior third baseman Greg Popatak went 5-for-11 (.455) with seven RBI to pace George Mason offensively, while starting pitchers Jared DiCesare (Chantilly), Nick Zegna and Brian Marconi surrendered just four earned runs on 18 hits in 16 innings.

“Popatak had a huge weekend,” Brown said. “The last few weeks last year, something just clicked with Greg defensively. He was lights out as a third baseman, and not coincidentally, his offense took off as well. And it’s nice to see it carry over and translate into this year too.

Marymount Splits, Mary Washington Posts Shutout to Open Seasons

Marymount split a Sunday doubleheader with Widener (PA) at the Nationals Youth Academy in D.C. and Mary Washington posted an 8-0 shutout of Methodist (N.C.) yesterday as the area’s Division III teams opened their 2019 seasons.

Saints junior second baseman Mike Ferrara had two hits - including a solo homer - in Marymount’s 2-1 win in the second game. The Pennsylvania native came in to score what proved to be the game’s winning run on a seventh-inning throwing error and was named the first-ever Player of the Week for the new Atlantic East Conference.

Three pitchers - starter Ryan Bergenhagen and relievers Kenny Frank and Matthew Schneider - combined to limit Widener to two hits over seven innings in the second game.

The Eagles, meanwhile, pounded 14 hits after having their season-opener moved up a day due to the incoming snow storm. Senior first baseman Stephen Johnston (C.D. Hylton) led the way, going 3-for-4 with a walk and three RBI. Starter Robert Cross scattered three hits over six scoreless innings to earn the win, with Hank Biggs (Woodgrove) tossing three scoreless innings in relief.

Both teams return to action this weekend, when Marymount plays Stevenson (MD), Washington (MD) and Gallaudet in the Bison Baseball Classic in D.C. and Mary Washington will host Oneonta (N.Y.) for a three-game series.

Menendez Serving as Early-Season Workhorse for Wake Forest Staff

Sophomore reliever Antonio Menendez (Herndon) has appeared in three of Wake Forest’s first four games and earned the save in Sunday’s 5-3 win over Georgetown.

Menendez, who struggled with a 9.99 ERA in 25 appearances during his freshman campaign, has a 2.45 ERA with four strikeouts in 3.2 innings for the Demon Deacons (2-2).

Another area player, Michael Ludowig (Briar Woods), is also off to a good start with Wake Forest. The 2017 NOVA Nine Player of the Year after leading the Falcons to the Class 5 state championship, Ludowig is 4-for-11 (.364) with two walks, a double and two RBI in three games.

Christopher Newport’s Herbert Earns Win in 1st Career Start

Junior right-hander Teddy Herbert (Washington-Lee) made his first career start in Christopher Newport’s 19-3 win over Oglethorpe (GA) on Friday, earning the victory after striking out six and allowing one run on two hits over five innings.

The 6-foot-4, 200-pound Herbert, who pitched a scoreless inning in relief in a 16-1 win over Ferrum the previous weekend, has worked his way into the Captains’ rotation after making just four appearances over his first two seasons.

Christopher Newport (5-0), which was ranked No. 13 in the NCBWA/D3Baseball.com preseason poll, has been dominant to begin the season. The club’s pitchers have compiled a 1.40 ERA in 45 innings, and the Captain lineup is hitting a cumulative .331 with a .462 on-base percentage while averaging 13.4 runs.

Player of the Week: Brenton Doyle, Shepherd (Kettle Run)

Shepherd’s Brenton Doyle (Kettle Run) went 7-for-11 over three games last weekend and has been named the magazine’s Collegiate Player of the Week, sponsored by Northern Virginia Orthodontics.

A first-team Division II All-America selection last spring, Doyle picked up where he left off to begin his junior season. The 6-foot-3, 200-pound junior outfielder totaled three doubles, three RBI and four stolen bases as the Rams took two of three games from Tiffin (OH).

He enters the week hitting .486 with seven extra-base hits, six RBI and six steals in nine games.

Sponsor: The magazine’s College Notebook is sponsored by the R&D Baseball Academy. For more information on the academy, visit its website at www.rdbaseballacademy.com.

Photo of Jared DiCesare courtesy of George Mason Athletics

College Previews: George Mason Hopes Momentum Carries Into 2019

February 20 - Two of his pitchers were taken in last June’s Major League Draft and he graduated his top run producer and one of the best defensive shortstops in program history. But for Bill Brown, the goal remains the same as he enters his 38th season as the coach at George Mason.

A trip to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2014.

“At the end last year, we were very close, quite honestly, to playing in a regional,” Brown said. “We figured it out, what you need to do to have success, to win and be that team that is right there. And that’s carried over.”

The Patriots bounced back from losing their first eight games in 2018 to advance to the Atlantic-10 Conference championship game. They lost that game to St. Louis and finished 29-27, falling just short of an eighth NCAA Tournament appearance under Brown.

Then two junior right-handers, Zach Mort and Bryce Nightengale, were selected in the eighth and 16th round, respectively, joining experienced regulars Michael Smith, Tyler Nelin and Trevor Kelly as voids George Mason would have to fill in 2019. Mort was a second-team all-league pick after going 6-3 with a 2.48 ERA and 108 strikeouts to 13 walks in 105.1 innings, while Smith graduated as one of the Patriots’ most-accomplished shortstops and had 206 career hits, Nelin was a second-team all-conference pick and Kelly had team-highs of nine home runs and 48 RBI.

“We knew that there was a good chance we were going to lose Zach, and then Bryce came on last year,” Brown said. “And as juniors, it’s tough to absorb that in a program like ours.”

George Mason was picked to finish fifth by the Atlantic-10 coaches, and Brown understands why. “You look at what we lost - two junior pitchers in the draft - and your first question is, ‘How are they going to replace those guys?’ And we lost some good position players. But every year is a different year, and we’ll see how things play out. Those things don’t bother me.”

One of the keys to absorbing the loss of Mort and Nightengale will be junior right-hander Jared DiCesare (Chantilly), who emerged as the team’s third starter last spring and then put together an All-Star summer campaign in the Cape Cod League. DiCesare went 6-5 with a 3.33 ERA and just 15 walks in 83.2 innings last year, and is expected to slide seamlessly into the role as George Mason’s Friday night starter.

Also back in the rotation is senior lefty Brian Marconi, who has logged 203.1 innings and 38 starts in his career and has 12 wins over the past two seasons. Brown said sophomore Austin Cabone should be the third weekend starter, though he begins the season on the shelf while recovering from a minor back injury. Two freshmen, Nick Zegna and lefty Nate Young, could bounce between the rotation and the bullpen.

A third first-year pitcher, Patrick Halligan (Marshall), is expected to be the club’s weekday starter.

“We have Jared, we have Brian Marconi, two seasoned veteran guys and we’ll find that right guy to be the third guy on the weekends,” Brown said. “Our young guys are going to play a big part, and if one of them becomes a starter on the weekend, then so be it.”

Once Cabone returns - Brown expects him to be back soon - Zegna and Young will join a bullpen that will include junior college transfer James Beasley as well as three additional freshmen - Jared Lyons (West Springfield), Mason Posey (Brentsville District) and Stuart Barrett.

“One of our keys for success this year is how quickly our freshmen pitchers come along, and how well they pitch for us, quite honestly,” Brown said. “It’s critical that the freshmen that came in were able to pitch right away, and pitch in high-leverage situations.

“That really is the story for us.”

Much of the attention of opposing pitchers will again be focused on catcher Logan Driscoll, a first-team all-league selection after hitting .342 with 19 extra-base hits and 37 RBI as a sophomore last year. The Lake Braddock graduate has also garnered the attention of Major League scouts and could be the highest Patriots player drafted since another catcher, Chris Widger, was taken in the third round by Seattle in 1992.

Joining Driscoll in the middle of the order will be senior third baseman Greg Popatak, who hit .282 with a .408 on-base percentage and 21 extra-base hits last spring. Similar production from the Pennsylvania native would force teams to go after Driscoll rather than pitching around Baseball America’s preseason A-10 Player of the Year.

Sliding over to shortstop will be senior Alejandro Aponte, who had been the program’s starting second baseman since early in his freshman season and carries a .975 career fielding percentage. “Alejandro is an elite defensive player, so it wasn’t ever going to be an issue with him moving to shortstop,” Brown said. “The only reason he didn’t play there was, one, he was so good as second base, and two, we had Michael Smith playing short as well as we’ve ever had anybody play it.”

Taking Aponte’s former post at second base will be sophomore Daniel Brooks (Spotsylvania), who hit .227 with 18 RBI in 110 at-bats last year. Slick fielding senior Tim Smith will be the opening day starter at first base. All four infielders swing left-handed.

The outfield will be anchored by fifth-year senior Brady Acker, the talented leadoff man who has had two of his past three seasons shortened by injuries but is healthy entering his final campaign in Fairfax. “To have Brady back and to have him healthy is a huge boost to what we’re trying to do,” Brown said of Acker, who hit .282 with four homers and 20 RBI in 34 games. “He’s an unbelievably-talented player who unfortunately has been sidetracked with some injuries throughout his career.”

The Patriots are likely to have a handful of players platoon at the corner outfield spots that were manned last season by Nelin and Kelly. Included in that mix will be sophomore Scott Morgan (Woodbridge), senior Bailey Klein, junior college transfer Cam Reckling and Lyons, a two-way player who is an infielder by trade.

“We wanted to get Jared on the field, and it was like, ‘You know what, this kid is an athlete, so let’s get him out there and give him a chance in the outfield for a couple days’,” Brown said “The outfield will be where we have a lot of flexibility, we’ll rotate a lot of guys through there.”

George Mason Patriots
2018 Record:
29-27 overall, 16-8 conference
Head Coach: Bill Brown, 38th year (1,026-945-7)
Assistants: Brian Pugh, Tag Montague, Tyler Nelin, Ryan Ricci
Key Losses: RHP Zach Mort; RHP Bryce Nightengale; SS Michael Smith; OF Tyler Nelin; OF Trevor Kelly
Top Returners: C Logan Driscoll; RHP Jared DiCesare; 3B Greg Popatak; OF Brady Acker; SS Alejandro Aponte; LHP Brian Marconi

Photo of Brady Acker courtesy of George Mason Athletics

College Notebook: DiCesare Earns Win, Driscoll Homers as Mason Tops Iowa in Opener

February 15 - Last year, it took nine games for George Mason to earn its first victory. The Patriots made sure there was no such wait this season, beating Iowa, 7-2, to open their 2019 campaign earlier today at Heritage Park in Kissimmee, FL.

Junior starter Jared DiCesare (Chantilly) allowed two runs on six hits over six innings to earn the decision, junior catcher Logan Driscoll (Lake Braddock) hit a two-run home run and senior third baseman Greg Popatak had a three-run double to provide the game’s final margin in the first of three games this weekend.

James Beasley (Battlefield), a junior transfer from Frederick Community College, struck out three and scattered two hits over three scoreless innings to earn the save in his debut with the Patriots. The trio of DiCesare, Driscoll and Beasley were three of six Northern Virginia natives to take the field for coach Bill Brown’s club: sophomore second baseman Daniel Brooks (Spotsylvania), sophomore right fielder Scott Morgan (Woodbridge) and freshman left fielder Jared Lyons (West Springfield) were in the starting lineup.

George Mason will play Marshall tomorrow at 2 p.m. and Villanova on Sunday at 11 a.m. at Heritage Park, which served as the spring training home of the Houston Astros from 1985-2016.

Local Hurlers Kelly, Stewart, Williams Projected Starters for JMU’s Opening Weekend

James Madison’s game notes for its weekend home series against Norfolk State had three area natives - junior Kevin Kelly (Paul VI Catholic), sophomore Nick Stewart (Rock Ridge) and senior left-hander Joe Williams (Battlefield) - listed as its probable starting pitchers for this weekend’s season-opening series against Norfolk State.

Kelly and Stewart are coming off impressive 2018 campaigns, posting ERAs of 3.74 and 2.86, respectively, over a combined 23 starts. Williams will be making his debut with the Dukes, having sat out last spring after transferring from George Mason.

Four natives of Northern Virginia were in James Madison’s lineup this afternoon, junior left fielder Fox Semones (C.D. Hylton), freshman second baseman Kyle Novak (Madison), junior catcher Michael Morgan (Paul VI Catholic) and junior first baseman Brady Harju (Battlefield).

Schroeder Draws Bases-Loaded Walk in Debut as No. 6 UNC Tops Grammes, Xavier

Will Schroeder (Freedom-South Riding) drew a pinch-hit bases-loaded walk as No. 6 North Carolina beat Xavier, 12-3, in the season opener for both teams earlier today.

The freshman infielder was making his debut with the Tar Heels, who are hosting a three-game series with the Musketeers this weekend.

Xavier’s two-way standout, junior Conor Grammes (McLean), had mixed results as his team’s opening day starter and No. 3 hitter. Grammes went 2-for-4 with a double and a stolen base, but was touched up for six runs (five earned) in 3.2 innings to take the loss.

Eagles Open Season With Sunday Twinbill vs. Widener at Nationals Youth Academy

Marymount will open its sixth season under coach Frank Leoni when the Eagles host Widener (PA) in a Sunday doubleheader beginning at 12:30 p.m. at the Nationals Youth Academy in Washington, D.C.

Entering its first year in the new Atlantic East Conference, Marymount is seeking its first winning season since 2016. The Eagles, who were picked to finish fifth in the conference, went 13-23 last year and 20-21 in 2017 after setting a program record with 23 wins in 2016.

Leoni, the former skipper at Division I programs Rhode Island and William & Mary, is entering his 26th season as a collegiate head coach.

Sponsor: The magazine’s College Notebook is sponsored by the R&D Baseball Academy. For more information on the academy, visit its website at www.rdbaseballacademy.com.

Photo of Jared DiCesare courtesy of George Mason Athletics

Baseball America Tabs Mason’s Driscoll, DiCesare for Preseason A-10 Honors

February 7 - Two area natives were tabbed by Baseball America as the Atlantic-10 Conference’s preseason Player of the Year and Pitcher of the Year, respectively, in the publication’s 2019 preview of the conference.

Patriots junior catcher Logan Driscoll (Lake Braddock), a first-team all-conference selection after finishing fourth in the A-10 with a .342 average and totaling 19 extra-base hits and 37 RBI last year, was picked by Baseball America’s staff as the league’s preseason Player of the Year.

“If he can tap into more power, he’ll be an all-around threat offensively,” BA’s Carlos Collaza wrote. “Defensively, Driscoll has an advanced understanding of handling the pitching staff, so much so that he calls his own game, with a strong throwing arm and solid receiving and blocking abilities.”

Driscoll, who hit .323 as a freshman in 2016, is expected to be taken in June’s Major League Baseball Draft.

Jared DiCesare (Chantilly), meanwhile, was tabbed as the A-10’s preseason Pitcher of the Year after a sophomore campaign that saw the efficient right-hander go 6-5 with a 3.33 ERA in 16 appearances (10 starts). Also a potential draft pick in June, DiCesare impressed in 2018 by only walking 15 batters in 83.2 innings during the spring with George Mason and then just two in 36.2 innings while posting a 2.95 ERA over the summer with the Bourne Braves of the Cape Cod League.

“[DiCesare] lands [his fastball] and each of his secondary offerings for strikes while rarely putting batters on base for free,” Collaza wrote.

Baseball America picked the Patriots to finish fifth in the 13-team league. George Mason went 29-27 overall and 16-10 in the A-10 last year, then reached the conference championship game before falling to St. Louis. The league’s head coaches will vote on their preseason poll in the coming days.

The Patriots open their season on Feb. 15 against Iowa in Kissimmee, FL.

Photos of Logan Driscoll and Jared DiCesare courtesy of George Mason Athletics

College Notebook: Study Ranks CRCBL, VBL No. 3 Among Summer Leagues

January 25 - The Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League and Valley Baseball League finished tied at No. 3 in a ranking of the country’s summer collegiate leagues.

According to the Collegiate Summer Baseball Register, the two leagues were behind the Cape Cod League and New England Collegiate Baseball League, finishing ahead of the Northwoods and Coastal Plains leagues.

The eight-team CRCBL is based throughout the greater Washington and Baltimore area and now has two Northern Virginia teams - the Alexandria Aces and FCA Braves - after the Loudoun Riverdogs folded after the 2018 season. The league also lost one of its flagship clubs, the Baltimore Redbirds, which won or shared five of the past seven CRCBL championships. The 11-team VBL, which is based along I-81 and I-64 in the Shenandoah Valley, has one Northern Virginia team, the Purcellville Cannons.

Rankings were based on a “paradigm that measured the relative competitiveness of all the leagues for which we were able to find detailed roster information,” according to the Collegiate Summer Baseball Register.

According to the study, the CRCBL has had 24 Major League players suit up for its teams since it was established in 2005. The VBL, which was established in 1923, has had over 1,000 Major Leagues play for its teams.

Doyle, Atkinson Named NCBWA 1st-Team Preseason All-Region Selections

Shepherd outfielders Brenton Doyle (Kettle Run) and Nick Atkinson (Osbourn Park) were both named NCBWA preseason first-team Division II All-Atlantic Region selections earlier this week.

Doyle, a junior, was a first-team All-American last year after hitting .415 with a nation-high 98 hits, 14 home runs and 68 RBI as the Rams went 38-17. Atkinson, a senior, hit .347 with 15 homers and 42 RBI in 2018.

Both players were NOVA Nine Team selections as seniors, Atkinson in 2015 and Doyle in 2016.

Nationals Announcers Slowes, Jageler to Keynote Mason’s First Pitch Dinner

Charlie Slowes and Dave Jageler, the radio play-by-play announcers for Washington Nationals’ broadcasts on 106.7 The Fan, will be the keynote speakers at George Mason’s First Pitch Dinner on Feb. 8.

Tickets and sponsorships are available at the event, which serves as an annual fundraiser for the Patriots’ baseball program. The First Pitch Dinner will be held at the Country Club of Fairfax beginning with a social hour at 6:30 p.m. A reception will be held beginning at 6 p.m. for sponsors who purchase an MVP Table.

For more information on Mason’s First Pitch Dinner, click here.

Sponsor: The magazine’s College Notebook is sponsored by the R&D Baseball Academy. For more information on the academy, visit its website at www.rdbaseballacademy.com.

Photo by Mark Briscoe

College Notebook: With Assist from Snowstorm, Marymount Lands Transfer Hardney

January 17 - Jacob Hardney’s decision to transfer to Marymount over the winter break looked to have hit a snag last weekend.

The 6-foot-3, 210-pound right-hander, a resident of Arlington who enrolled at Purdue after his senior season at Gonzaga (D.C.) last spring, wrote Saints coach Frank Leoni early on Saturday that he’d decided to transfer in after just one semester at the Big 10 Conference school.

However, his late decision to switch schools presented a problem: Marymount started classes on Monday, and the school’s admissions office indicated it wouldn’t have time to process his application and get Hardney enrolled for the spring semester.

Then Mother Nature intervened.

Sunday’s snowstorm cancelled the first day of classes, giving the admissions office the additional time necessary to process Hardney’s application and get him enrolled. He was on campus on Tuesday for the first day of classes and tossed a bullpen in a player-run workout that night.

“I was driving my son to Marymount to move into his dorm for the semester on Saturday, and reached out to admissions,” Leoni said. “They didn’t think they’d have time to process everything with his application. But the snow cancelling classes [on Monday] bought us some time to process his application and get him into school.”

Hardney, who had his fastball clocked as high as 91 MPH during fall workouts at Purdue, gives Marymount a proven freshman arm after pitching against some of the area’s top prep teams in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference. He was 2-4 with a 2.75 ERA and 34 strikeouts in 40.2 innings last spring with the Purple Eagles, and perhaps his best outing of the season came on April 11 in a 4-0 loss to Paul VI Catholic, who was then the No. 1-ranked team in the Northern Virginia Top 10 Poll.

Hardney went six innings that day, striking out seven while allowing three runs (one earned) on three hits. Now Leoni hopes he will provide a lift to a Saints team looking for its first winning season since 2016 in its first year in the new Atlantic East Conference.

“We don't always get that kind of blue chip Division I caliber recruit,” Leoni said. “We've gotten them, but they don't always fall into our lap like that. It's exciting to have a kid this physical with the long and loose arm action. He's got all the physical tools and he's got some really good stuff.”

Multiple Schools to Send Coaches to Mason’s Showcase Camp on Monday

George Mason’s winter showcase camp will also have Catholic, Marymount and Mary Washington and two community colleges, Paul D. Camp and Patrick Henry, with coaches in attendance on Monday.

The Patriots’ coaching staff confirmed the other three schools would be attending, and that others could commit to send coaches to the one-day showcase held on the school’s campus in Fairfax. The camp is open to all high school players and junior college players who are NCAA qualifiers.

For more information or to register, visit www.billbrownbaseballcamps.com.

College World Series Schedule Released

The College World Series will begin on June 15 and run through June 25/26 at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, NE.

The double-elimination CWS consists of the final eight teams from the NCAA Tournament, which consists of 64 Division I teams that qualify as conference champions or through at-large berths. It is being held in Omaha for the 70th consecutive year after being hosted in Kalamazoo, MI for two years from 1947-48 and in Wichita, KS in 1949.

Oregon State defeated Arkansas to win the national championship last year.

Sponsor: The magazine’s College Notebook is sponsored by the R&D Baseball Academy. For more information on the academy, visit its website at www.rdbaseballacademy.com.

Photo of Jacob Hardney courtesy of Gonzaga Baseball