Baseball looks to maintain offensive prowess, sets sights on postseason

Media Credit: Hatchet File Photo

Junior Tyler Hix runs to home in last April's game against Saint Bonaventure.

After topping the Atlantic 10 in nearly every offensive category and missing the playoffs, baseball has returned with a renewed vigor to finish the year in the postseason.

The Colonials’ efforts culminated in the program’s third consecutive 30-win season, but injuries and pitching woes kept them out of the postseason for the first time in five years. Players said they are coming into the new season hungry to ink a spot in the postseason, focusing their training and attitude on getting the job done at the end of the season.

“Missing the playoffs last year was a punch in the nose and we don’t want to have that feeling again,” sophomore infielder Noah Levin said. “I feel that our training, our preparation and just our attitude toward the year is just to get it done, to make the playoffs.”

GW ended last season with the highest team batting average in the conference (.292) and ranked in the top three in runs scored (380), hits (565), runs batted in (342) and on-base percentage (.386).

The Colonials’ offense was fueled by the power-hitting duo of Nate Fassnacht and Dom D’Alessandro. Fassnacht was named the 2019 A-10 player of the year and D’Alessandro’s .423 batting average paced the conference.

The two players accounted for 110 runs scored last season. Fassnacht led the Colonials in extra base hits (38) and RBI (60) and tied with sophomore outfielder Cade Fergus for the lead in runs (59). D’Alessandro topped the squad in batting average, on-base slugging (1.174), hits (88), home runs (13), slugging percentage (.668) and on-base percentage (.506).

Fassnacht, who forfeited his final year of eligibility, and D’Alessandro, who graduated in 2019, are now making their rounds in the Major League circuit. Fassnacht became the fifth highest GW draft pick when the Phillies selected him and D’Alessandro followed suit, joining the Red Sox.

To shore up the offensive holes left by the duo, head coach Gregg Ritchie brought a 13-player recruiting class into the fold. Made up of 10 freshmen and three junior college transfers, the new additions make the team one of GW’s youngest in recent years. Twenty of the 35 rostered players are underclassmen.

‘They’re mature across the board as freshman, which is a really big bonus for us,” Ritchie said. “This is a mature group. This group is the 99th ranked recruiting class in the country.”

Junior outfielder and right-handed pitcher Tyler Hix, who posted the highest batting average on the team after Fassnacht and D’Alessandro last season, said the new additions will be enough to maintain last year’s offensive standard.

“I don’t think in terms of offense, this year’s going to be different at all,” Hix said. “We have some new guys coming in, but they’ve bought in 100 percent to what we’ve been working on. But our ideals are on offense, so offensively we’ll be the exact same. I think we’ll be No. 1.”

Ritchie said in a text that senior utility Steve Barmakian was one of the “major forces” on the team. He is the only senior to play in the field. Five players in the seven-member senior class are pitchers while Greg Anderberg plays behind the plate.

Four of the six outfielders have earned collegiate experience at the position, and three – Fergus, Hix, redshirt junior Colin Brophy – suited up for the Colonials last season. Fergus appeared in every game last season and started in all but one. He scored 59 runs but endured some struggles at the plate, striking out a team-high 70 times.

Junior outfielder Domenic Boselli transferred into the program this season from Mercer County and will join the Colonials’ outfield. Boselli excelled at the junior college level, ending the 2019 seasons as a Division II First Team All-American. He posted a .439 batting average and 83 hits on the season.

Ritchie said Anderberg and sophomore catcher Anthony Frechette are expected to split time behind the plate, with freshman infielder and catcher Trey Torain providing added depth at the position.

Ritchie, who has been with the program for eight seasons, said the trio of catchers were “the best catching staff we’ve ever had since I’ve been here.”

Levin had a standout debut season last year. He was named 2019 A-10 Rookie of the Year, ending his freshman campaign with a .305 batting average. Levin said the team will be young, but is prepared to take on new roles.

“I know that four of our five left fielders are all underclassmen, so it’s a whole new field, especially with Nate leaving,” he said. “We’re going to do a good job in it.”

The Colonials are set to kick off their season at the Baseball on the Bayou Classic Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

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