Strong Pitching Continues for PA; Holds BH to Two Earned Runs

Andover starting pitcher Jack Dilday ’07 struck out Belmont Hill’s number three hitter to end the fourth inning last Friday, escaping a bases loaded jam to lead Andover to a 5-2 victory. Andover’s offense provided all of the support Dilday would need in the first inning, scoring three runs to continue Andover’s undefeated season. Andover’s pitching staff proved itself yet again on Friday, giving up only two runs despite the terrible weather conditions. Dilday’s first home start was an impressive one, pitching four innings to earn his first win of the season. The post-graduate allowed only one run, setting the stage for J.R. Santaniello ’08, who took the mound in the fifth. Santaniello was similarly effective, allowing a single run on a sacrifice fly to get the save. In three games so far this season, Andover pitchers have allowed only three earned runs. “I have never pitched in that cold of conditions before, and I’m not used to pitching in the rain,” said Dilday, who lives in California. “Ultimately, the cold weather tires your arm quickly. But in the end, you just have to go out there, forget about the weather, and throw hard.” Andover’s lineup also fought off the cold, giving ample support to their pitchers as they scored in the first inning for the third straight game. Santaniello, batting leadoff, got the offense rolling when he hit a hard ball that the Belmont Hill third baseman made an error on. Santaniello rounded the bases later in the inning to put Andover on the board. Captain Sam Conte ’07 and centerfielder Joe Smith ’07 also scored in the bottom half of the first, thanks to impressive two-out hitting by Mike Ciummei ’07. Dilday’s clutch strikeout could not have come at a better time for Andover. With a 3-1 Andover lead and two outs, Belmont Hill’s number-three hitter dug into the batter’s box with the bases loaded. “I knew that he was their best hitter, so I had to be more careful,” said Dilday. “A hit by him would have put them in the lead.” “I had to clear my mind, and just focus pitch-by-pitch. Eventually, I got to a full count on him. I wanted to blow it by him, but Sam made a great call and asked for the split-finger. So I had to trust myself, and it ended up working out for me.” The batter was the last Dilday would face, and it was his fifth strikeout of the afternoon. Andover carried this momentum into the top of the next inning, the fifth. Mike Palermo ’08 walked and Sam Gould ’07 singled, as Andover’s offense struck yet again. With the two runners on, Chris Bramwell ’07 came up big with a run-scoring single, and Bobby Farnham ’08 knocked Gould in with a sacrifice fly. “This game the strongest aspect was our resiliency,” said Bramwell. “We kept hitting even though some of our hardest hit balls weren’t falling for hits early. Eventually, Belmont Hill caved in to our relentless hitting.” The victory was the third in as many games for Andover in a season that has been limited by weather. Half of the team’s games have already been canceled thus far, including a tough league match-up against Cushing on Wednesday, the team that knocked Andover out of the playoffs just under a year ago. The team remains resilient, however, and has not allowed the rain to dampen its plans to take home the league championship later this spring. The team hopes to get back on the field this weekend, as it travels to B.B.& N. this Friday and to Worcester on Saturday for a double header.