Two-Time Defending Champions Knock Off Cushing; Murphy’s Bat Powers PA Attack

Spring is officially here, and to usher it in with style the Big Blue baseball team beat Cushing 6-3. Adam Crabtree ’04 took to the mound and threw to catcher Paul Chiozzi ’03. The infield consisted of Zak DeOssie ’03 at first, Nick Barber ’03 at second, Co-captain Kyle Murphy ’03 as short stop, and new comer Conner Hoesley ’04 at third. The outfield housed some of the team’s fastest runners with Lee Rattigan ’03 playing left, Co-captain Adjatay Nyadjroh ’03 at center. Rounding out the offense, Rory Gallagher ’03 manned right field. With so much strength and experience in the field, it wasn’t long before the combination of Crabtree’s powerful pitches and the players’ level of skill for such an early season game overwhelmed the Cushing line up. Though he acknowledged and praised the team for having such a successful defensive performance so early on in the season, assistant Coach Tom McGraw also said the offense has room to improve because, “This is a team that’s still learning how to play with one another so we’re working on gaining familiarity. We’re learning how we all play the game and how to work better with each other.” He predicts that as the season progresses the team, and especially the defense, will become more loosely confident in themselves and in their teammates. As is the case in any team sport, this increased confidence should prove to help the defense make quick and cohesive plays in crucial situations. With the promise of nicer skies ahead, this process of team acclimation should be swift as the team will have many more chances to play outside in their element. Crabtree pitched six of the seven innings and Barber stepped in to close the game. Commenting on his pitching Crabtree said, “It wasn’t my best performance, but it was really nice to finally get outside for a game and work out the kinks. Overall we did well though.” After making an incredible play in the second inning in which he literally flew off the ground at second base to catch a quick line drive down the center, Nick Barber took the mound in the seventh inning to close the game with what Coach Cline referred to as “wonderful poise.” “I was excited by that play I made in the second inning,” said Barber, “and I was glad I could be strong in the end for the team. It was good first game all in all.” Other notable defensive plays were turned in by Rattigan and Nyadjroh who put their incredible speed to use in tracking down numerous fly balls and line drives. Also, Andover turned a number of double plays, which they have been working to perfect in practice. Hoesley turned two cool double plays from his hot corner position. Also showing incredible hustle defensively, Murphy, at short stop, made several jaw dropping plays. In the fifth inning, Murphy made a quick catch of a powerfully hit line drive that surprised the crowd and the Cushing bench. Andover kept a controlling pressure on the Cushing line-up, with their champion nature shining through in their offensive depth. In the first inning, Murphy set the standard for offensive play for the Big Blue. Batting third, he watched the Cushing pitcher carefully and settled for a walk. However, more importantly, Murphy showed a lot of hustle and intelligence as he was making his way around the bases. As Cline put it, “Kyle made some real heads up plays.” He was able to get to second after the Cushing pitcher overthrew to the first baseman in an attempt to quell Kyle’s aggressive leads of the base. Similarly, Murphy made it to third base on a pitch that the catcher fumbled and lost control of. While Murphy was on third, DeOssie was walked and then Hoesely came up for his first at bat as a varsity player. He crushed the ball down the center for a double that sent both DeOssie and Murphy in. “Connor had a really great coming out day,” said DeOssie. Down the line, the Andover bats were composed and relaxed for the most part, which was to their advantage over the Cushing pitcher who seemed to be a little rusty after the winter and who was throwing very spastically.