December 30 - George Mason University has been named the magazine’s 2018 Collegiate Team of the Year after overcoming a slow start and advancing to the Atlantic-10 Conference championship game.
The 2018 Teams of the Year are sponsored by Pitchers Edge in Vienna.
Coached by longtime skipper Bill Brown, the Patriots turned their season around after losing their first eight games, winning their last four series with conference opponents to claim the No. 2 seed in the league tournament. They then advanced to the A-10 final, but missed out on their first conference title and NCAA Tournament berth since 2014 when they lost, 5-0, to St. Louis.
George Mason finished 29-27 overall and 16-8 in the A-10, winning six of its eight series against conference foes.
This year’s nominees also included: the Purcellville Cannons, who won a second straight Valley Baseball League North Division title; the FCA Braves, the lone Virginia club to qualify for the Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League playoffs; and the University of Mary Washington, which had its fourth straight winning season.
In the fourth story in our Year in Review series, the magazine summarizes each of the nominees for our Collegiate Team of the Year:
Team: George Mason University
League: Atlantic-10 Conference
Head Coach: Bill Brown
Assistant Coaches: Brian Pugh, Tag Montague
Record: 29-27 overall, 16-8 conference
Team Summary: The Patriots turned in one of the country’s best turnarounds, going from 0-8 to start the season to within two wins of a conference title and NCAA Tournament berth in a season that saw head coach Bill Brown eclipse 1,000 career victories. Sophomore catcher Logan Driscoll (Lake Braddock) was again the team’s top offensive threat, hitting .342 with 19 extra-base hits and 37 RBI en route to first-team All-A-10 honors, while senior outfielder Trevor Kelly hit .313 with team-highs in home runs (9) and RBI (48) and senior outfielder Tyler Nelin hit .313 with a team-best .425 on-base percentage and was a second-team All-A-10 selection. Two juniors, Zach Mort (6-3, 2.48 ERA, 108 K, 13 BB, 105.1 IP) and Bryce Nightengale (6-6, 3.45 ERA, 80 K, 32 BB, 80.2 IP), were taken in the Major League Baseball Draft, and sophomore Jared DiCesare (6-5, 3.33 ERA, 71 K, 15 BB, 83.2 IP), a Chantilly graduate, emerged as the likely ace in 2019.
Team: FCA Braves
League: Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League
Head Coach: Chris Warren
Assistant Coaches: Mike Cassidy, Aaron Tarr
Record: 19-23 overall (including playoffs)
Team Summary: After winning three of their last four regular season games to clinch a third playoff berth in four years, the Braves knocked off the D.C. Grays in the CRCBL quarterfinals before being swept in a best-of-three semifinal series with the Baltimore Redbirds. FCA was led by infielder Brett Norwood (Chantilly), who earned first-team All-CRCBL honors after finishing among the top five in the league in average (.364), hits (47), runs (31) and steals (23). Another infielder, Austin Gauthier (South County), was a second-team all-league selection after hitting .281 with 20 runs and 11 steals. The rotation was paced by Brett Kreyer (Stone Bridge), Owen Lamon (Oakton) and Robert Hamby, who each posted ERAs of 3.54 or better.
Team: University of Mary Washington
League: Capital Athletic Conference
Head Coach: Wayne Riser
Assistant Coaches: Rick Minter, James Keller, Thomas Weaver
Record: 19-17-1 overall, 8-10 conference
Team Summary: They missed the six-team conference tournament after dropping eight of their last 12 regular season games against CAC foes, but the Eagles still finished with a fourth consecutive winning season under head coach Wayne Riser. Sophomore first baseman Christian Hague earned second-team All-CAC honors after hitting .352 with five home runs and 35 RBI, and he was one of eight Mary Washington regulars to hit over .300. Junior shortstop Ramsis Ruiz (Brooke Point) paced the team in batting average (.378), runs (50) and steals (16), while junior first baseman Stephen Johnston (C.D. Hylton) hit .361 with two homers and 28 RBI and senior outfielder Mark Smith hit .359 with seven homers and 29 RBI. Junior left-hander Joe Thompson was the team’s best pitcher, going 4-4 with a 3.63 ERA and two saves over 52 innings while splitting time as a starter and reliever.
Team: Purcellville Cannons
League: Valley Baseball League
Head Coach: Brett Fuller
Assistant Coaches: Ridge Fuller, Doug Walker, Chris Glaize
Record: 25-19 overall (including playoffs)
Team Summary: The Cannons won a second straight North Division title before being swept in their best-of-three VBL quarterfinal series with the Winchester Royals. They had two relievers, Anthony Zimmerman (3-0, 0.55 ERA, 33 K, 7 SV) and Dalton Oates (3-0, 0.61 ERA, 39 K) earn all-league honors, and were led offensively by third baseman Shaggy Freeland, who hit .312 with 32 runs, four homers, 21 RBI and nine steals. Two other Purcellville regulars - first baseman Christian Garabedian (.312) and outfielder Kenny Oyama (.309) - hit over .300, and Garabedian paced the club in homers (5) and RBI (32).
Photo Logan Driscoll courtesy of George Mason Athletics