Baseball loads up on young talent for run at A-10 Title

Following a season in which the GW baseball team reached its fourth consecutive Atlantic 10 Tournament but failed to defend its 2002 title, the Colonials head into this season with plans to take that championship back. And they may just have the talent to do it.

Position players Chris Barry, Travis Crowder and Tony Dokoupil graduated last spring, and senior pitcher Greg Conden was drafted by the San Diego Padres in June. But those four departures still leave the team with more than 75 percent of last season’s home run and RBI production and most of the pitching staff intact.

“We’re excited about this season, and we’re ready to go,” junior co-captain Anthony Raglani said.

Raglani, an outfielder, has a career batting average of .305 and was named both the National College Baseball Writers Association National Hitter of the Week and the A-10 Player of the Week during last season.

Along with Raglani, senior co-captain Jeff Fertitta returns to lead GW. Fertitta, an infielder and catcher, was named to the Atlantic 10 All-Championship Team in 2002 and had the fifth most RBIs in the A-10 last season.

With so much of his talent coming back, GW head coach Tom Walter can build off of last season’s 37-18 record. The season included a pair of 11-game winning streaks, marking the first time in school history that the Colonials have won 10 in a row twice in the same year.

Five veterans will form the bulk of the pitching staff, while four of the team’s nine incoming freshmen, including Bill Simpson and Derek Haese, will add additional strength to the bullpen.

Freshmen Derrik Lutz and Anthony Smith will also compete for spots in the starting rotation. Smith got his first opportunity Sunday against Florida Atlantic and allowed four runs in five innings. The highly touted lefthander threw a perfect game in the high school Northeast Regional Series last year.

“We’re a little younger this year,” senior pitcher Dennis Gramolini said. “But we have more talent than we’ve had in a while.”

Gramolini also said the team is opening the season with no major injuries and a strong bullpen.

As usual, Richmond and Xavier are expected to be GW’s main rivals in the A-10. The two teams finished first and third, respectively, last year in the A-10 West. The Colonials finished fourth.

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