While many college students and sports teams alike will be traveling to warm, sunny beaches in destinations like Florida and California over spring break, the men’s baseball team will stay a little farther north, landing in Washington, D.C. to take on Georgetown and George Mason.
Brown (1-10) has yet to register its second win of the year after getting swept by North Florida and losing to the University of Rhode Island. But the Hoyas (7-8) — like Bruno — have yet to play a home game due to inclement weather. George Mason (6-9) has played four games at home this year, going 2-2 with losses to Manhattan and Yale.
Jake Kuzbel and Nick Collins spearhead the Hoyas’ offense as two of its three leaders in batting average. Kuzbel has the most total bases on the team, while Collins is third in runs batted in. Georgetown’s offense is based on power, as it has six players with six RBIs or more and five with more than 15 total bases. Even Brown’s relatively high-powered offense features only four players with six or more RBIs.
“We’re going to be aggressive and try to attack the strike zone as a pitching staff,” said Taylor Wright ’15. “We try to stick to our process no matter who we are facing.”
Matt Smith and Jack Vander Linden lead a Georgetown pitching rotation that is substantially better than the Bears’. Both have sub-four ERAs, and Smith recorded a 2.22 ERA in four starts. Another weapon on the mound for the Hoyas is David Ellingson, who has appeared in 10 games this year, registering a 0.90 ERA. Georgetown as a team has a strikeout-to-walk ratio of about 2:1 — not typically considered great. But compared to the Bears, who have recorded more walks than strikeouts, it is excellent.
“We have confidence in our guys offensively,” Wright said. “They can take on anyone, and we have seen some good pitching so far, so our guys are prepared.”
Facing that trio of pitchers will be Brown’s 1-2 combo of Robert Henry ’17 and Noah Shulman ’16. Henry was recently named Ivy Player of the Week, and he is batting .447 on the young season. After those two, the Bears have had little individual success, but Brown’s offense has been fairly explosive at times this year.
“Rob has been huge for our offense as a table setter,” Wright said. “When he’s always on it gives us early momentum in the game. He gives our offense a lot of confidence by putting pressure on their pitcher early.”
George Mason has had a lack of success similar to Georgetown, with its pitching and offense fluctuating game by game. The Patriots’ lineup features five players batting over .300 this year, with Kent Blackstone and Tyler Nelin leading the RBI category. Blackstone’s run production comes from his power — he has hit three home runs already this season — but Nelin is more of an all-around hitter. Nelin has two homers — good for second on George Mason — but also hits .320 and ranks second on the team in slugging percentage.
The Patriots do not have dominant starting pitchers like Georgetown, but they do have a plethora of pitchers who have done well in spurts this year. John Williams, who has won four of his five starts, leads the team’s starters with a 2.56 ERA, and two of George Mason’s relievers — both of whom have appeared in seven or more games this year — have sub-two ERAs. The Patriots have an even better strikeout-to-walk ratio than the Hoyas — a stat that does not bode well for a streaky Brown offense that often relies on walks to start big innings.
The Bears’ trip to the nation’s capital precedes the start of Ivy League play. Brown will take on Princeton and Cornell in two weekends.