In 1984, Georgetown's baseball team was two runs and one game from the NCAA baseball playoffs, losing in the ECAC South playoffs to East Carolina, 8-7. The Hoyas, and all-America center fielder Steve Iannini, are hoping they won't come up short of that goal this year.
However, their route will have to be different: they now are competing in the Big East Conference. And Iannini is off to a hard-luck start.
Iannini, a senior who has a .465 career batting average, has been the leader for the Hoyas. In 1984 he led the nation in hitting (.470) and stolen bases (49) and was in the top five in slugging percentage. Last week, on the Hoyas' spring-break trip to Florida, he injured his left ankle rounding second base as he tried to stretch a double in a Sunblazer Classic game against James Madison; he missed three games at the end of the trip and now is "day to day." Georgetown is scheduled for 13 games in the next 10 days.
Georgetown, 31-17 in 1984, has back nearly the rest of its .317-hitting club, including first baseman Bobby Ebner (.350) and catcher Mark Lepnew (.365).
Pitching concerns Coach Ken Kelly. The pitching staff, led by graduate student Eddie Burke (8-4, 3.80 ERA last year), has two freshmen in its rotation. So the Hoyas, who led the nation in stolen bases in 1984 and are "basically a singles and doubles team," will have to keep scoring runs.
Maryland, 18-14-3 in 1984, lost right-hander Ken Echols (2.62 ERA, 41 strikeouts in 41 innings last year) for 1985 with an arm injury. Coach Jack Jackson's lead pitcher now is Keith Lippy, a senior right-hander with a "submarine" motion and 2.74 ERA in 1984.
"In the last 20 years I can't remember not having a stopper," Jackson said. "As of right now, we have no pitching. Let me put it this way: I've never finished last in the ACC, but there's always a first time."
The Terrapins do show scoring potential. Sophomore first baseman Paul Schager, .324 in 1984, already has four home runs. Brian Davenport, a three-year starter in center field, provides hitting and defense: four assists and no errors last year.
George Washington has its first full-time baseball coach in John Castleberry. He inherits much of a team that hit .322, led by outfielders Nick Riccio (.400), Matt Allen (.374) and Gregg Ritchie (.359).
Last year, Navy pitchers Drew Tanner and David Landwehr each had an ERA of just above 4.70 and a record below .500. This year, each has won his first game, allowing one run and going the distance. Building on that, the Midshipmen could improve on last year's 15-5 record. In the outfield, Navy is rebuilding. The infield for the most part remains intact.
George Mason pitchers had a 5.69 ERA in 1984. Senior Dan Atcheson, who has a 21-9 career record and won the Patriots' first game of 1985 on a three-hitter, will try to help improve the staff. Offensively, the Patriots are expected to do well. Kevin Burke, a senior first baseman, hit .294 with nine home runs and 36 RBI last season. Junior third baseman Carlin Hart (.297) and junior outfielder Dave White (.395) also are expected to produce runs.
American, which began its 1985 season Saturday at Navy by losing, 18-2, before tying, 9-9, in a game ended by darkness, has offensive capability but must lower its 8.43 ERA from last year. Junior outfielder Paul Grzyb was a bright spot, hitting .395 with 16 extra-base hits. Steve Salem batted .384. On the mound, sophomore right-hander Tim McDowell, son of former major league pitcher Sam McDowell, showed strikeout capability despite his 8.41 ERA in 1984. Senior Shaun Sutton (3-1, 4.91) is the top returning pitcher.
At Howard, Chuck Hinton's Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference champions (17-26 overall) have six pitchers -- the most ever for his hitting-dominated teams. Returning are center fielder Perky Warner (47 runs, five home runs), shortstop James Baynes (.304, nine home runs) and first baseman Paul Summers (.307).
Virginia, behind an experienced pitching staff and hitters who are averaging nearly eight runs a game, has started out 14-3 this year. Joining the rotation and helping the Cavaliers to their fast start is Yogi Biggs (3-0, 2.00 earned run average).