Not even the perfectly manicured grass of what is undoubtedly the most beautiful field in the Central New England Prep League could hide the ugliness that Andover’s Big Boys unleashed against Deerfield last weekend. After feasting on Exeter’s red meat, PA devoured Deerfield’s Big Green eggs and ham this weekend, thrashing the opponent with a final score of 14-5 and 11-1 in their doubleheader. In the top of the first inning, Andover celebrated a quick 5-0 lead. Helping the team get off to its impressive start were Co-captain Kyle Murphy ’03, Zak DeOssie ’03, Adam Crabtree ’04, Connor Hoesley ’04, and Justin Gallagher ’03, who all notched RBI’s. With enough momentum from the first inning, the Big Blue’s bats didn’t stop swinging and thus, did not stop dominating. Co-captain Murphy led the team in hits, totaling three in the first game. Murphy reflected later, “I felt kind of bad for the Deerfield kids because we played them last year for the title and this year they just had nothing against us. But it was nice to get out there; we looked pretty good – we were doing the little things well, which is going to continue to be important to our success.” Also hitting well for Andover in the first game were Crabtree, Nyadjroh, Paul Chiozzi ’03, Lee Rattigan ’03, and Kevin McGravey ’04, who all contributed two hits to the first game. Chiozzi also led the game in RBI’s, racking up a total of four. Crabtree and Nyadjroh had two, following closely behind. Said Nyadjroh, “It was really nice to see us all hitting well. We’ve been working hard on making sure we can get men in and hit the ball to the best possible position on the field for any given play, so I think we’ve come a long way.” In total, the Big Blue had 12 hits, a statistic that dwarfs Deerfield’s 5. The real difference, however, lay in total errors: the Blue made only one and the Deerfield team made eight throughout the course of the game. McGravey explained, “I think we really got into their heads and shook them up a bit. You could tell their spirits were broken after the first inning.” Helping out from the mound, starter Tom Kennedy ’03 and closer Tom Church ’05 kept the Deerfield bats at bay in the first four innings. Kennedy gave up only two runs on four hits while he was pitching. Church also did a commendable job closing, allowing only five hits and three runs, not bad for the up-and-coming sophomore pitcher who will be an integral part of the Big Blue pitching staff in the coming years. Coach Cline commented on Church’s performance, “He didn’t allow any walks which is a key stat when you’re pitching with a lead.” In the second game, ace pitcher Crabtree took command of the mound. When all was said and done, Crabtree had averaged two strikeouts per inning for a total of 15 K’s on the day, an impressive feat considering he had played third base in the first game. McGravey explained, “Crabtree’s slider was working really well for him out there. They didn’t really have a chance at hitting pitches like that.” Crabtree not only contributed defensively but offensively as well. In the third inning of the game, he crushed a ball approximately 330 feet to leftfield, resulting in a three-run homer. In total, Crabtree finished the day with four RBI’s to his name. Also standing out offensively was Hoesley, who racked up three RBI’s with three hits, two doubles and a single. Rattigan made two more hits in the second game, improving his total to four. However, his impressive speed in the outfield awed both the Green and Blue supporters. On other occasions, Rattigan showed his guns with outstandingly accurate long distance throws that quelled the ambitions of the Deerfield base runners. DeOssie also looked sharp at first base, as he “got dirty,” as Coach Cline would say, on a few occasions when he dove off the base to prevent hits. A seasoned athlete, DeOssie said, “It’s all about hustle, in any sport really, and we’ve got that.” Prior to the Deerfield game, the Blue took on Cushing for the second time on the road, managing to hold off the fierce Penguins for a victory of 5-3. Nick Barber ’03 and Rattigan took to the mound for the Blue to start and close the game respectively. They were up against tough competition from the Cushing pitcher, but managed to hold the lead steady. They most certainly could not have managed a win without the outfield, though. Consistency from Co-captains Murphy and Nyadjroh again anchored the defense, and catcher Chiozzi made several good plays, as well. Chiozzi said, “We’ve been doing a good job of keeping the ball down in the zone, and also including a good mix of off-speed pitches. Lately, with Cushing and Deerfield, we’ve noticed that bringing the fastball inside more often can be pretty effective against some hitters. The staff’s key to success has been keeping guys off balance and throwing strikes.” Commenting on the game, Barber said, “It was great to beat Cushing for the second time. It felt good to chalk up another win and our momentum is going to carry over into the championship. Right now I don’t think there is any team in the league better than ours. We just have to keep up the good work, and no one can stop us.” Unfortunately, despite Barber’s words, the Big Blue suffered its first in-league loss this past Wednesday in the team’s first game against Tabor in a mid-week doubleheader, with a score of 11-9. Commenting on the first game, Coach Tom McGraw said, “The guys came out and just thought they could win by showing up. They forgot how to approach the game. … I guess you get lulled into a sense of invincibility if you’ve played well in the season–but baseball isn’t like that, each game is a new set of circumstances.” They saved some face in the second game, however, winning 5-0. Addressing the difference in the second game, McGraw said, “We got a few runs off the weaker Tabor lefty pitcher, and Nick Barber saved us today, and Church looked real good too, as opposed to the pitching in the first game, in which our big guns unfortunately went to sleep out there. Nick was persistent, it was just a real good thing–it picked us up, but we can do better.” The Big Blue is doing its best to shake off these two subpar games and to take home the three-peat title at this Saturday’s league tournament at Holy Cross.
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