Andover Baseball was baffled all day by a crafty Cushing pitcher and could not get into a groove in a 5-1 loss on Wednesday. With shortstop Chris Cameron ’11 out of the lineup due to a dislocated finger in his throwing hand, the team could not get anything going at the plate. The loss of Cameron, the team leader in batting average, with a .800 average going into today’s game, and on-base percentage, .857, was a devastating blow to the squad. Tom Hamel ’10, who pitched one inning on Wednesday, said, “It definitely hurts not having a guy like him in the lineup. On the offensive side of the ball, he is a key bat in our lineup and has been one of our big guys so far this season. Not having his speed definitely hurts, especially on the base paths. In addition, his presence as a leader on the field will definitely be missed and we can’t wait to have him back.” The team went into the game against Cushing on a two game win streak, with two crushing victories over Bridgton Academy and Tabor Academy. “Our success up to this point can be greatly attributed to the mindset we come to the ball field with. Everyone comes to the ball field with the mindset of helping the team win, and knows what part they play in helping the team reach its goal,” said starting pitcher Fred Shepard ’10. Although the team may have had this mentality, the bats certainly did not show up against Cushing. Andover struck out thirteen times on the day, a season-high. “From the get-go the bats were not producing. Their pitcher did a great job of getting ahead in the count and effectively mixing up a solid fastball with a curveball. He was the kind of pitcher that got ahead early and took control of the at-bat,” said Jack Doyle ’10. After three innings, the score was still close, 1-0. Scoring two runs in the fourth inning, stemming from a leadoff double, Cushing pulled away and the margin became too much for Andover. Andover did score one run. In the fifth inning, with a man on first base and second, a groundball was hit back to the pitcher, and he threw it to third. After the force out at third, the third baseman overthrew the first baseman, allowing Doyle to score from first. Andover sent Shepard to the mound. He was feeling confident going into the game and had a solid performance, with seven strikeouts and only one walk. “I’ve added a pitch this preseason, a slider, which has late sharp break and should be very effective against batters who don’t usually see a slider at this level of play. Last game we showed only what we needed to, the fastball and the curve, while working in a few sliders. In the coming games I want to work in the slider a bit more and keep pounding the zone with fastballs to challenging hitters,” he said. With a 2-1 season record, the Andover baseball team will square off in a doubleheader against powerhouse Worchester Academy and also has a game against BB&N this weekend.