Consecutive Rain Outs Secure Playoff Berth

Andover Boys Varsity Baseball was just barely able to edge out rival Exeter for the final spot in the playoffs after a rain-out on Wednesday kept the team’s record at 5-5. Andover barely slid into the playoffs, as Exeter had the same record but a worse run differential, allowing Andover to take the final spot. “Of course we would have liked to win our way into the tournament, but we’ll take any opportunity to get there.” Captain Chris Cameron ’11 said. “We’ve learned in years past that anything can happen in such a short tournament.” The team finished out its season with two rainouts against Worchester and Tabor, and was lucky to have the advantage over Exeter to clinch their playoff berth. Andover has been hit hard this season with injuries and rainouts, but, Andover is extremely confident going into the post-season. “Fortunately we are in the tournament, and we know that we can beat any team in the league when we play our best,” said Zac Elder ’11. “We are a dangerous team to play right now, and we’re gearing up to win a championship on Saturday.” Before clinching its playoff spot, the team had to battle off a strong Noble & Greenough squad on Friday afternoon before traveling to Deerfield the next day for a doubleheader. In its last home game of the season, Andover was handed a tough 4-8 loss by a solid Noble & Greenough team. In a preview to its semi-final matchup next Saturday at the New England Tournament, Andover split its double-header with Deerfield. In the first game, Tom Palleschi ’12 pitched a strong 4 innings, striking out 5 while only allowing one run, before being hit hard in the 5th inning. With one out, reliever Derek Farquhar came in to get the last two outs, but not before Deerfield had tagged Palleschi for seven runs. Andover’s offense got going in the 3rd inning with solid hitting from both Elder and Cameron. After hitting a single, Elder was hit in by Cameron to take the lead 1-0, but Andover’s bats were silenced the rest of the game, and with 7 runs to make up, there was little hope to overcome the Deerfield’s 8-1 advantage. Everything changed in the second game for Andover. Rory Ziomek ’13 took the mound in the pouring rain for the second game and pitched lights out, holding Deerfield scoreless through 5 innings. “It was tough to lose the first game of the double header, so my mentality was just to keep them under control offensively until we scored a few runs,” Ziomek said. “My fielders really helped me out by making some great plays behind me.” On top of Ziomek’s great pitching performance, the Andover bats finally started to heat up. Led by Jason Buco ’11 and Brian Hanafin ’12, both with two hits, the Andover offense was able to tag Deerfield’s pitcher for 5 unanswered runs. Hanafin came up big in the fifth. With two outs and runners on, Hanafin smacked a RBI triple. “The first pitch I got was an outside fastball and I took it the other way,” Hanafin said. “It felt great to help out the team in a game that was crucial to win.” Jeb Roberts ’11 came on in relief for Ziomek for both the 6th and 7th innings, securing the 6-1 win for Andover. With the luck on its side, Andover looks to make a deep run into the playoffs this Saturday at Holy Cross. The team will take on Deerfield in its first matchup of the day.