After cracking a long hit deep into the outfield, Andover Baseball Co-Captain Chris Hohlstein ’14 burst out of the batter’s box. While Groton outfielders were tracking down the ball, Hohlstein rounded the bases with Head Coach Kevin Graber frantically windmilling his arm, giving Hohlstein the greenlight to go for home. The throw came to the catcher, but Hohlstein extended his arms over the plate before the catcher could get the tag down ,and Andover took a lead on the inside-the-park home run that it would never surrender in a 6-2 win against Groton.
The win against Groton was the first of Andover’s three-win week, which included a doubleheader sweep of rival Phillips Exeter Academy.
Hohlstein’s inside-the-park home run was one of just five hits for Andover, but the offense still managed to score six runs. Andover’s smarts on the basepaths and patience at the plate helped it overcome the lack of hits to put forth its best offensive performance of the year.
Payton Jancsy ’16 led the offensive charge with a double, two runs and four stolen bases, while Kevin Superko ’14 had one hit, one run and two runs batted in. Jancsy’s four steals set a season high record in a single game.
Backed by a strong offensive display, Matt Hosman ’15 pitched admirably in his first start of the year, allowing seven hits and two runs, while striking out three batters in seven innings.
The win against Groton gave Andover significant momentum going into a pivotal doubleheader against Exeter. Needing wins in both games to remain in the CNEPSBL playoff hunt, Andover pulled through with scores of 13-3 and 9-7.
The first game featured a well-rounded performance, with Thomas Lane ’15 pitching six innings. He allowed one run off of three hits, lowering his Earned Run Average even further to 1.64 over his last four starts.
“Lane’s been awesome. It’s great to have him out on the mound and know he’s going to pitch well. His slider has been ridiculous, and it has been a lot of fun to watch him pitch,” said Co-Captain Mark Sullivan ’14.
John Festa ’15 contributed three hits in the first game, leading the offense to 13 runs in the blowout victory. He continued his prowess at the plate in Game 2, when he tallied three more hits in a much closer 9-7 game.
Tim Salvadore ’15 pitched well enough to keep Andover in contention for Game 2, allowing four hits and striking out four — the lead changed hands five times over the course of the first four innings. Kenta Nomoto ’14 stroked an RBI single in the fourth to give Andover the lead for good.
In the three wins, Andover scored a combined 28 runs, which was more than the 26 combined runs that the team had scored in the ten games prior.
“We’ve been working as a team on our approach, and we’ve been working on keeping the ball out of the air. We’ve practiced hitting hard lines drives and hard ground balls instead,” said Sullivan.
Sam Zager ’15 added, “Coach Graber has told us that if we stay on top of the ball and keep it low, everything else will take care of itself. Guys aren’t trying to do too much anymore. We try to get singles and get the next guy home. Everyone has been relying on each other pretty well, and it’s been working.”
Andover looked to continue its hot streak when it played Cushing on Wednesday, but the bats fell quiet again, only mustering up one run. Cushing escaped with a 2-1 victory as the game ended with a close play at the plate.
Despite the loss, Andover made significant progress this past week, improving its record to 5-8 this season. Andover will square off against Deerfield on Saturday in another crucial doubleheader.