Hoya File Photo/The Hoya There really is no place like home for the Hoyas, who will play their home games over 15 miles away from campus. If home is where the heart is, then the Hoyas’ hearts, at least for the 2001 baseball season, will be somewhere in Maryland.

Georgetown begins the season tomorrow at William & Mary on a road trip that includes Duke. But when the team returns home, they will still be over 15 miles away. This year’s Georgetown squad will play their home games at Shirley Povich Field in Bethesda, Md., pushed off campus due to construction for the Southwest Quadrangle.

Despite of the move, Head Coach Peter Wilk remains unphased.

“Once you get out there, it’s still baseball,” Wilk said.

Instead of worrying about the inconvenience of traveling to home games, Wilk says the Hoyas will focus on improving from an abysmal 2000 season.

The team finished last season’s campaign last in the Big East with a 1-24 conference record (13-43 overall). But Wilk says that this year’s team has already taken steps in the right direction.

“We’ve stepped up the commitment to the program, and the kids have been working their butts off. We’re stronger, we’re more athletic, we’re more committed and we’re going to surprise some people,” Wilk said.

The Hoyas have 23 of 24 letter-winners returning to the team, so experience will certainly be an asset. They also gained eight new freshmen, the majority of whom Wilk is confident will make an impact. Wilk has already pegged freshman Ron Cano to start at shortstop, and freshman Mike Lombardi to start at catcher.

Expected to lead the squad is senior outfielder Jim Vankoski, a second year transfer from Stanford who had the best batting average on the team last year at .317. Senior lefty pitcher Randy Erwin, who led the team in ERA (4.81), wins (five), complete games (six), innings pitched (95.1) and strikeouts (55), also returns for the Hoyas.

The pitching squad will be vital in the quest for improvement. The team had a number of starters who performed below their capabilities last season, which gave opposing teams too many opportunities to score.

“The key for the year is if our pitching staff performs up to their potential,” Wilk said. “If they do, we’ll beat a lot of teams.”

Too many errors in addition to the poor pitching made things difficult for the Hoyas last season. Offensive production was also limited, often leaving the team powerless against many opponents, especially the better teams in the Big East. Conference champions Rutgers outscored Georgetown 24-3 in last season’s three-game series. However, the Hoyas also failed to find success in winnable games.

“We didn’t beat the teams we should have beaten,” Wilk said.

Although improvement is most likely in store for the Hoyas in 2001, they still have a long way to go before they can hope to be one of the conference’s top competitors. “We have to walk before we can start running, and the Big East is already running,” Wilk said.

While the team is looking forward to improving, they realize they need to take things one step at a time and not set unrealistic goals. “We’re going to be a lot better than last year, but we still have a long road to travel. We are rebuilding, and we need to get a lot deeper,” Wilk said.

The removal of an on-campus playing field has not helped the team either. During last season the right field fence was brought closer to home plate so that the university could begin construction on the new Quadrangle. After last season, the field was converted into a parking lot to provide additional parking during construction.

According to Wilk, the team simply “looked at it as another challenge,” and it didn’t take any energy from their play on the field, even given the daily bus rides and lack of a home crowd.

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