PA Baseball Finishes Third In Consolation Tournament

In somewhat uncharted territory, the Andover Varsity Baseball team found itself in the consolation round of the 2004 Central New England League tournament this past weekend. The team lost to Choate 5-4 but beat Suffield 8-7 to take third place overall. With the tournament behind them, they are gearing up for their contest against Exeter tomorrow. For the past three seasons, the team had advanced to the championship round of the tournament, winning both in 2001 and 2002. This year, a sub-.500 record (6-9) and seventh-place seed in the tournament eliminated the team from the championship round. In the first game of the consolation round, against Choate, Senior Adam Crabtree once again threw well off the mound. The performance did not measure up to some of his most dominant outings of the year, and the 5-4 loss was heartbreaking. Crabtree only surrendered two earned and three unearned runs, but errors in the late innings, coupled with two walks, tempted the Choate offense to capitalize. In the fourth and fifth innings, Choate scored five times. Despite unsteady performance in the middle of the start, the ace sent the majority of his opponents back to the dugout in the early and late innings of the loss. Regardless of the decision, the Big Blue also did some damage in the middle of the match up, as Jamie Durkin ’05 opened the third inning with a double. Durkin later scored on a sacrifice off the bat of Steve Sherrill ’05. After being hit by a pitch, Evan Platt ‘06 scored the last run for Andover in the fifth, with a single from Cory Schneider ‘04. Both Crabtree and Platt found their offensive rhythm at the plate, each recorded two hits, and Crabtree stole two bases. The loss to Choate in the opening set up the contest between Andover and Suffield for 3rd place in the consolation tournament. Tom Church ’05 relieved starter Captain Kevin McGravey ’04 in the third inning. McGravey, who has been battling injuries all year, could not come through with his fastball and struggled, surrendering six runs on three hits and four walks. Church, however, had the Captain’s back as he struck out four and lead the way for closer Mike Foley ‘04. Holding Suffield to one hit in two innings of work, Foley maintained the Andover momentum before and after the seventh inning. A timely two out rally in the top of the seventh won the game for Andover. Jed McDonald ’04 doubled and later scored, and Connor Hoesley tripled and also scored. The majority of the team struck the ball well throughout the game. Evan Platt built on his momentum with two more hits, and both Hoesley and McDonald each added another hit earlier in the game. On one of the more unusual plays of the season, Hoesley slammed a rocket to center field. As he crossed the plate for an expected inside the park home run, umpires immediately ruled him out, as he did not touch first base as he rounded the bases. Meanwhile, in the winner’s tournament, Exeter captured the victory over Worcester. Despite the Big Red’s success, Andover players are confident that tomorrow’s matchup will be a well-balanced game. While on paper the two teams seems might seem to be in opposite directions, Andover will match ace Adam Crabtree against Exeter flamethrower Andy Gale, 2004 league MVP. In a match up like that of Pedro and Clemens, the two aces will duel until the final out. If Crabtree surrenders a minimal number of runs and Andover defense supports its ace while the bats find a spark like they did in the Cushing game, then a victory for the good guys will come. This will be the last game for seniors Kevin McGravey, Adam Crabtree, Connor Hoesley, Cory Schneider, Jed McDonald, and Mike Foley. The seniors will certainly play like champions on Saturday in their last game in an Andover uniform.