Peyton Williams/The Hoya Junior Ron Cano was one of many Hoyas to round the bases in the season’s last two home games, which featured the second-best offensive output of the year.

The Georgetown baseball team ended a roller coaster season on a positive note, winning four of its last five games and claiming its first Big East series win of the year.

The Hoyas won their last two home games, beating Coppin State, 10-9, and George Mason, 17-14. They then traveled to South Orange, N.J. to take on conference rival Seton Hall. Georgetown lost the opening game of a doubleheader, 8-7, but won the second game, 8-7, and took the rubber match, 17-12.

Georgetown finishes with a record of 14-33 overall, and 4-22 in Big East play. The team won five more games than the previous year, including twice as many conference victories, yet failed to move out of last place in the Big East.

Head coach Pete Wilk was happy to finish the season with some wins.

“It was a great feeling,” Wilk said. “The way we finished up the last week or so, everyone wanted to keep playing. I think the kids here needed that weekend.”

The team’s late-season success was a refreshing payoff for an up-and-down year.

Georgetown played strong out of the gate, playing to a 4-6 record early on, but endured a tough stretch where they dropped 25 of their next 30 games. The Hoyas rebounded in the final week of the season, however, and had impressive wins against George Mason, a team Georgetown had not beaten since 1990, and at Seton Hall, which marked the first time the Hoyas won a series on the road in six years.

Georgetown’s season was also marked by bad weather. Snow and rain forced the cancellation of several games, pushed several home games to neutral sites and moved the team’s practices indoors for the better portion of a month.

“Everybody’s in the same boat, so I don’t think you can hang your hat on the weather,” Wilk said. “However, it prevented us from getting on a roll. We ended up playing nine games less than we normally do, and if you look at those games, each and every single one of them was a `W’ possibility.”

Despite the losing streaks and the rainouts, the Georgetown baseball program can take several positives from the 2003 season.

Senior Pat Salvitti pitched the best games of his career down the stretch. Wilk inserted Salvitti in the rotation down the stretch and he responded by tossing five complete games in five starts.

“I was very happy for Pat,” Wilk said. “He’s been here for four years and he’s struggled for three and a half of them. Consistency seemed to elude him for years but something finally clicked.”

Wilk also had praise for his two other seniors, Matt Carullo and Rob O’Hare. Carullo led the team with 18 doubles and hit .309 on the season. O’Hare was a dependable source of power in his years at Georgetown, finishing up with six homers and 26 runs batted in this season.

“I was happy to see all three seniors end it on very good notes, that is important to me,” Wilk said. “Carullo had a good career here, O’Hare put up some good numbers this year . that is nice to see, seniors going out that way.”

Most of Georgetown’s lineup will return next year, including sophomore Andrew Cleary and junior Michael Lombardi, who give the Hoyas one of the best catching tandems in the conference. Cleary was the offensive catalyst for the Hoyas, hitting .338 while leading the team in runs (45), homers (12), RBI (47), walks (32) and on-base percentage (.460). Cleary was named Big East Co-Player of the Week on May 5, and as of May 12 he led the conference in home runs.

“Cleary really impressed me,” Wilk said. “I didn’t really know exactly what we were getting when he transferred in from Stanford. I knew he was going to hit, but he was a better catcher than I thought.”

Lombardi continued to establish himself as a team leader, both on the field and in the dugout. He had his third-straight .300 season and hit above .400 for much of the year before settling in at a team-high .374 clip.

“Lombardi had just a monster year, I think he was the best catcher in the conference,” Wilk said. He added, “That’s a luxury that a good program has, is two catchers in it. And Andrew’s athletic enough where he can bounce around and still help us at other positions.”

Sophomore Billy Quinn also stood out, hitting .315 with 10 home runs and 42 RBIs.

As a young team, Georgetown was often prone to growing pains as several freshmen were thrust into major roles. One who rose to the challenge was freshman Timmy Jones, whose defense in centerfield was exceptional all season. After a slow start, he hit .296 and finished as the team’s lead off hitter.

“Timmy Jones impressed the [heck] out of me as a freshman,” Wilk said. “He came a long, long, long way and played very good center field and ended up being a pretty good offensive kid.”

On the mound, freshman Warren Sizemore established himself with a 4-6 record, leading the team in wins and owning the lowest earned run average (5.93) of all starters. Freshman Steven Burns had two saves on the year, but will be in the mix for a starting job next year.

“I think we’re going to be older and wiser on the hill next year, and we’re going to be more athletic behind the pitchers, which is going to translate into more pitchers confidence,” Wilk noted. “We need some pitchers to step up and get it done next year. Hopefully some of the older guys will step up and finally fill the shoes. And I think we can have a pretty good team. I’m excited about it.”

Although Georgetown again finished in the Big East basement, this season provided hope for a program that has struggled in recent years. The Hoyas stand to be more competitive in 2004. Georgetown loses just three seniors, and gets back sophomore Matt Johnson and junior Parker Brooks from injury. The lineup remains potent, and the pitching staff will benefit simply from having another year of experience.

“I think between the weather and the injuries we incurred, to end up the way we did, I was fairly pleased.” Wilk said. “It makes me look very much forward to next year because I know we’re going to get some of our hurt guys back, and the guys we’re bringing in just continue to make the program stronger. There’s an optimistic feeling here.”

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