NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. -– The rain and cold weather at Merrimack College on Tuesday had little effect on Colin Flynn and the young Andover Golden Eagles.
Flynn got on base three times and was extremely effective on the mound through the first five innings, giving up three runs while he saw his team take an 8-3 lead going into the sixth inning. Central Catholic (14-5) made a late run, plating three runs on Flynn in the top of the sixth—but it was to no avail, as Andover (9-6) pulled out the 8-6 victory.
The Golden Eagles got started quickly in the first inning, Alex Brickman started off the bottom of the first with a base hit. Two batters later, Tim Awiszus got a base hit of his own—bringing clean-up hitting shortstop Gabe Hernandez up with first and second with one out.
Hernandez (2-for-3, 2B, 2 runs) pulled though with a two-run double off the left field fence, giving the Golden Eagles an early 2-1 lead on Central starter Liam Doherty. Two batters later, Flynn legged out a triple to score Hernandez. Freshman Cam Farnham came up next and bunted a base hit to score Flynn, giving Andover the momentum, and a 4-1 lead, after one inning.
The quick start was all according to plan, Flynn said.
“It was a huge emphasis, we had a six game winning streak and then lost every game last week, then coach put a huge emphasis on [starting fast] today to rebound," he said. "I just wanted to do whatever I could out there.”
Andover took full advantage of five Central Catholic errors. After two straight Red Raider errors and a sac bunt by Nate Giammassi that drove in two runs (Farnham came in to score from second after Giammassi was thrown out at first), it looked as if all the wind had been taken out of Central’s sails.
Then the Red Raiders took over at the plate. Following a leadoff strikeout, right fielder Brady Abraham singled, Aaron Hall hit a double to center field, Kevin Regan walked, then Evan Beebt and Jon Parsons had back-to-back-singles—all in succession and scoring three runs in all, making the score 8-6 Andover. Flynn was soon pulled in favor of Brickman.
The nerves that came following Central’s comeback were nothing new for Andover coach Dan Grams -- whose team has just three seniors. With nine sophomores and seven freshmen on his varsity squad, the veteran coach is used to nail-biting wins.
“I’m very superstitious, I’m very nervous all the time as these guys know. Thank God they came through and delivered for me, they made me look like a genius today,” Grams said.
A season’s a bunch of peaks and valleys. Unfortunately we had a tough week last week, but I think this is going to carry us right into the tourney. They did a very good job, I’m proud of my guys,”
Flynn credited his catcher and defense for helping him stay focused and confident late in the game.
“[Freshman catcher Andy Nason] called a good game back there," he said. "Late in the game, I wasn’t really feeling it but I had to trust the defense back there making plays. Gabe [Hernandez] at short was making plays all day. The offense was really going today."
Brickman was lights out, picking up the save and getting four of the last five outs of the game by way of strikeout. Despite the cold conditions, he said the light mist actually helped him grip his curveball and keep Central hitters off-balance through the last five outs.
“I was feeling pretty good throughout the game with my curve, getting the right break on it," he said. "I’ve just been working on it in practice and getting used to throwing it out here in the game. I actually kind of like [the rain], it slides off a little bit better...I just came out here trying to throw strikes."