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Around the Diamond

Busy schedules not derailing Andover Post 88’s success in District 8

Andover Post 88’s Scott Allan goes for a line drive in a game against Haverhill.

Mark Lorenz for the Boston Globe

Andover Post 88’s Scott Allan goes for a line drive in a game against Haverhill.

Scott Allan was in a pickle, and it did not involve any activity taking place on a baseball field.

Allan, off to a 5-0 start on the mound for the Andover Post 88 American Legion baseball team, was cutting it close to make it to the field last Saturday night for a pivotal matchup against Lynn Post 68.

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Not only does he suit up for Post 88 almost every night of the week, he also works at a local home goods store in North Reading.

Called in to work early, at 8 a.m., his shift did not finish until 6. As soon as he clocked out, he drove to Lynn, donning his uniform on the fly, and made it just in time for the 7:30 start.

The North Reading High grad pitched all seven innings in a 3-1 victory as Andover picked up its 11th win.

“I’ve been trying to get my work schedule to fit around the baseball schedule,” said Allan, who will attend American University in the fall.

“It’s just planning it and making sure that my work schedule correlates with my baseball schedule.”

Andover catcher Corey Stillings , who is planning to play at Western New England University next year, works five days a week, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., at a plumbing supply store.

As soon as his shift ends, Stillings drives from Wilmington to Andover to take batting practice before he and his teammates head out to their game.

“It’s really tough. Sometimes you don’t get enough sleep,” Stillings said. “But playing baseball is what I love to do and it’s always been such a big part of my life that it’s the sacrifice I have to make.”

Coach Joe Iarrobino , in his 29th season with the team, said that it’s been nearly impossible to get a full practice together because his players have been so busy with work, college orientation, and other summer commitments.

“We used to have games and practices six days a week,” Iarrobino said. “Now I have a lot of optional practices.”

Third baseman Tim Awiszus , headed to Gulf Coast University, was forced to miss a week of the season because of orientation.

Awiszus also works at an arcade in Tewksbury. He said he has worked hard to manage his summer schedule.

“My managers at work are great,” he said. “I work in the morning a lot. I hustle over to the high school for batting practice or for the games.”

Stillings, in his first season of Legion ball with Andover, said that playing high-level baseball was a priority for him this summer and having a job wasn’t going to get in the way of that.

“I need to make some money going into college next year, but I needed to play baseball at a high level and I thought this was where I want to be,” he said. “I don’t regret that decision at all.”

Post 88, 12-4 overall after a loss to Haverhill Wednesday night, occupied the third spot in the District 8 standings behind Newburyport (14-2) and Lawrence (13-3).

On Monday night, Andover defeated Peabody 7-3 in six innings, improving to 12-3.

With the playoffs on the horizon, Allan and his teammates know that trying to balance their busy lives with the unpredictable baseball schedule will continue to be a struggle.

But they all say baseball will still be a top priority.

“Now that you play until you lose, you don’t have a set schedule. I may have to take a week off of work here and there,” said Awiszus. “Hopefully I have to take off a lot of work, [which] means we’re going far in the playoffs.”

Stillings doesn’t mind the tough schedule either, because he believes Andover will make some serious noise in this year’s playoffs.

“I see it being a tough grueling schedule like it has been all year,” he said. “We’re going to do some damage come playoff time.”

Despite loss, Games considered a win

At last week’s annual Bay State Summer Games baseball competition at Bentley University, Northeast scholastic coach Ryan McCarthy said his top priority was simple: exposing his players to college coaches.

“The number one goal is to showcase these individual players as much as possible,” he said.

Justin Cashman , a 6-foot-1 right-hander from Rowley, was the first starter on the mound against Metro.

“I was pumped,” said Cashman, a rising senior at Triton Regional.

“I was playing with the best competition in Massachusetts. You can’t ask for anything better than that.”

It was his only start at the BSG, and he shined, throwing a complete-game shutout. He struck out seven batters and gave up just two hits in a 1-0 win.

“I just felt comfortable on the mound knowing that I had some of the best players in Massachusetts behind me fielding the baseball [and] catching the baseball. It was awesome.”

After losing to Central (3-2) on Tuesday and West (7-0) on Wednesday, McCarthy’s Northeast squad battled back and defeated Coastal 3-2 on Thursday.

Going into the final day of competition, the Northeast team controlled its destiny with a 2-2 record, needing a win against Southeast to secure the gold.

After a 4-4 tie forced the game into extra innings, Northeast took a 5-4 lead in the top of the eighth inning, only to have Southeast come back and tie the game in the bottom half.

Due to the two-hour time limit, the game ended in a 5-5 tie. Northeast finished with a 2-2-1 record and went home without a medal because of a tiebreaker differential with Southeast.

Although his club did not earn a top-three finish, McCarthy said that watching his players perform at an elite level overshadowed their disappointing finish.

“It’s a pleasure for me because you don’t have to remind these guys about the little things,” said McCarty, who was coaching in the Games for his 12th year. “You have 25 kids who just love the game. . . . It’s a great atmosphere to play around.”

Isaac Chipps can be reached at isaac.chipps@globe.com.
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