FRESHMEN are supposed to quake in their cleats in big situations. Not Andrew Singer, yesterday's designated hitter for Springside Chestnut Hill Academy.
The only noise likely coming from the batter's box could have been his chattering teeth, because of a biting wind, consistent rain and 40-degree temperature.
After Inter-Ac top dog Penn Charter played rude guest and scored six unanswered runs in the fifth (two) and sixth (four) innings, the Blue Devils watched their 6-1 advantage vanish.
That is until Singer stepped to the plate in the bottom of the sixth, after the Quakers gifted the tying run with two fielding miscues.
With runners in scoring position, the fresh-faced Singer got his pitch and tucked a looping fly ball just inside the leftfield line, plating the go-ahead run.
"I was expecting a curveball, but I got a fastball and just hammered it. Inside fastball, that's my favorite pitch," said Singer, who paused briefly, then added, "I probably shouldn't be saying that!"
Hey, after a 3-for-3 day with two RBI and two runs scored in SCHA's 11-8 win, you can forgive the youngster his self-incrimination.
"It's really exciting," he said of starting varsity. "I love it, I love it. I was a little nervous in my first Inter-Ac game a while back, but I'm loving it right now."
Both teams struggled yesterday under a lifeless, monochromatic, ash-colored sky. Each side halved eight hit batsmen (the Quakers walked nine more), and combined for seven errors (PC five, SCH two).
Sophomore Nick Rowland drove in three runs for the Blue Devils (4-2), while junior Riley Mihalik knocked in a pair. Sophomore Gunnar Hayes earned the win in relief of senior starter Ross Mintzer, who gave up six earned runs in 5 1/3 innings. Mintzer also struck out six and walked two.
The Quakers (4-2) were led offensively by senior Steven Cohen (2-for-3), while sophomore Ken Bergmann and junior Steve Brown added two RBI each. Senior side-armed pitcher T.J. Pagan started for PC and allowed six runs (four earned) and struck out five in 3 1/3.
The Blue Devils scored three runs each in the second and fourth innings after the Quakers took a 1-0 lead after one. Despite harsh conditions, both dugouts were loud and boisterous throughout.
"For the birds!" was screamed by the SCHA bench after a pitcher threw too high in the strike zone, while "Worms!" was shouted if he missed low. Eventually - the game lasted 2 hours, 45 minutes - fatigue set in and the chatter devolved into high-pitched shrieking.
As is typically the case in dugouts, the banter dissipated noticeably when either team was in the field because only a few non-position players were left on the bench.
At least we know what Singer was doing.
"I stayed in the corner of the dugout just trying to keep my hands warm," he said. "Running up the hill, doing whatever I could; stealing people's sweatshirts!"
The Ambler resident, who attended middle school at Ancillae-Assumpta Academy in Wyncote, said he's acclimated just fine as the newbie.
"They've accepted me really well," he said of teammates. "I'm a bit of a jokester, so I like to joke around with the guys and connect with them like that."
"Playing varsity freshman year, I was really nervous in the beginning, but I had to really step it up," he said. "Now, the nerves are gone, and I'm feeling really comfortable at the plate."
However, he has learned some valuable lessons from senior leaders such as Mintzer, Zach Jancarski and Craig Alleyne.
"Positive attitude," he said. "Once you get down in the dumps, that's where you lose the game. But if you stay in it the whole time, like we did today, that's how you win."