After an exhausting stretch of seven games in twelve days, the Phillips Academy Varsity Baseball team must now accept that even the best of ball clubs struggle in the most decisive games. As a team with six returnees from 2003, the Big Blue floundered early this spring with the youngsters battling the “varsity jitters” and veterans suffering from injuries. However, with the progression of the season, Andover gained confidence and timely momentum. Unfortunately, a 10-4 loss Wednesday to Tabor Academy lands the team in the consolation round of the CNEPSBL. In the heartfelt loss, the bats lacked the flair needed to spark an offensive comeback. Tom Church ’05 started, with Jamie Durkin ’05 in relief, and both surrendered runs to a superior Tabor offense. At the plate, Adam Crabtree ‘04 did his best to initiate an early rally with a two run dinger in the first inning. In spite of that, the offense did not strike again until the fifth, when two runners crossed the plate. The loss concludes the 2004 regular season for Phillips Academy, and lands them at 6-10, a record that surely does not indicate the true talent of the ball club. In the doubleheader versus Exeter two weeks ago, the Big Blue matched up against Exeter’s two most dominant pitchers. While DH Jed McDonald ’04 touched “Exie” starter Andy Gale ‘04 for a home run and a single, the Andover offense could not bruise the opposition’s pitching, recording only five hits and one run in the first game. The team struck the ball well, but with a near twenty mile-per-hour headwind, the ball found the mitts of the opposing defense. On the mound, starter Church surrendered five hits in the first two innings, including a solo home run. Nonetheless, Church settled down and proved his hold on his control, with no walks in the complete game effort. In the second game of the day, Andover ace Adam Crabtree continued his weekly strikeout barrage, ringing up nine, but lacked necessary defensive support, allowing two unearned Exeter runs to cross the plate. For the Big Blue’s first and only run of the second game, second baseman Kevin McGravey ‘04 grounded out to score Conner Hoesley ‘04, who had reached on a single. McDonald showed off his wheels on the base paths, stealing two in the second and fourth. Andover hoped to meet Exeter once more in the championship round of the tournament, but with the Andover loss to Tabor, and an Exeter sweep over NMH, this must wait until next season. With the thought of back-to-back losses to Exeter as its motivation, Andover battled at home against the aggressive Cushing Penguins, who once again shut down the Blue offense. Starter Durkin let up six runs over five innings to a solid Cushing squad. Andover’s flawless defense aided the pitching, but the offense only crossed the plate twice, coming in the fifth inning on single by Evan Platt ‘06. Not prepared to let the team slip to more than a three game loosing streak, the Big Blue dominated Deerfield in both games of this past Saturday’s doubleheader. In the second game, Crabtree demonstrated his superb ability with a near “no-no.” With one out in the top of the seventh, Crabtree allowed his first hit of the day, a weak single barely fair down the right field line. With a total of three DA base runners all afternoon, Crabtree took complete control in his most impressive stint of the season. The ace helped his efforts on the mound on the other side of the ball, reaching on a triple and a double, which knocked in two runners. Tom Dignard ’06 and Evan Platt each sent a runner across the plate. Giving up only two runs, Church led his ball club to a 6-2 victory in the first game of the day. The Big Blue added another to the win column Monday with a 6-5 victory over BB&N. Walks leading to runs hurt PA starter Platt, but with McGravey and Mike Foley ‘04 in relief, Andover held BB&N at bay while the offense scored five in the fifth and one in the sixth. Even though the most recent loss eliminates Andover from championship contention, the team can still end the season on a high note with a win over Cushing in the league tournament tomorrow. The best baseball teams are able to bounce back from a decisive loss and win the next game with spirit and vigor. As the team wraps up their season, we hope the best for pitcher/first baseman Matt Boylan ’06 who suffered an unfortunate, season-ending injury in practice last week. Get well soon, Matty.
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