Sports

The Quest for the Three-Peat

Coming off of a two consecutive Central New England Prep School Baseball League (CNEPSBL) championships, Andover Baseball has big expectations to deliver another winning season.

In 2012, Andover rolled through the regular season and tournament, capping off a magical season with the school’s fourth championship in a decade. Last year, however, was not a smooth ride like 2012.

“This is our second championship in a row, but this is a much different team than last year. Last year’s team was very dominant. This year we had to scratch and scrap and faced a lot of adversity along the way,” said Head Coach Kevin Graber in an interview with “ESPNBoston” following the 2013 championship victory.

Every team knows that Andover is the reigning CNEPSBL Champion, and that knowledge will spur teams to give their absolute best efforts against Andover.

“We know there’s a target on our backs. Other [teams] are going to want to play us and prove that they can beat us. We’ll just play our game with the same intensity that we played with last year, and hopefully we’ll come out with the same result from last year,” said Sam Zager ’15.

Co-Captain Mark Sullivan ’14 said, “It’s certainly something we’ve talked about how it’s something we have to deal with it. These teams do know we’re coming off back-to-back championships, but I think we just have to play our game and focus on our own game, and we’ll play our best.”

Co-Captains Chris Hohlstein ’14 and Sullivan will try to fill the big shoes that 2013 Co-Captains Rory Ziomek ’13 and Seamus O’Neill ’13 left behind.

Top players Ziomek, O’Neill, Tim Superko ’13, Connor Farrell ’13 and David McCullough ’13 have graduated, but Graber has confidence in newcomers Kevin Superko ’14, Andy Hamel ’14, Nick Gorski ’14 and Matt Ilalio ’14.

During preseason training in Florida during Spring Break, Andover posted a 4-2 record and showcased the type of shutdown pitching that will be essential to Andover’s success in 2014.

Like last season, Andover will likely rely on its pitching staff to shoulder most of the burden of a grueling regular season.

According Thomas Lane ’15, one of two returners in the rotation, Ziomek did not graduate without leaving a lasting impact for the next couple years.

“Especially with me, Rory taught me a lot about being a leader and an upperclassman on the team. I feel like that will really help me out,” said Lane.

Tim Salvadore ’15 is the other returning starter, and he hopes to continue the success he found last year as a league all-star.

“As a team, we’re going out there every practice expecting to get better, and we’re going to go out to every game and expect to win every single game. We think that if we get better every day, that’ll lead to wins and eventually another championship, which is the ultimate goal,” said Lane.

Sullivan added, “I’ve had a great three seasons so far, and I’m really looking forward to getting out there for one last year with the team. As we’ve shown in Florida, we’re definitely a strong team. We’re looking forward to getting some wins.”

Andover begins its quest for a three-peat on Saturday against St. John’s Prep.