Andrean’s ‘Bench Boys’ give 59ers a spark in sectional championship win

Andrean’s ‘Bench Boys’ give 59ers a spark in sectional championship win

Steven Hanlon ~ NWI Times

May 28th 2018

WHEATFIELD —

The me-first attitude is prevalent in sports these days. But it’s not everywhere.

“That’s not Andrean baseball,” senior Liam Ochi said Monday after the 59ers beat Twin Lakes 10-0 in five innings to win the Class 3A Kankakee Valley Sectional championship. “We work hard in the dugout to keep the guys on the field energized. We have claps and chants. We pick guys up if they make a mistake.

“It’s fun when we got to play, but we’re in here cheering the team on with all we have either way.”

Andrean coach Dave Pishkur said he put Ochi in to pinch run in the bottom of the fifth inning for one reason: “So he could score the winning run.”

Clay Thompson, a senior, proceeded to hit a walk-off double to plate Ochi.

Fellow senior Luke Stanich is another member of the “Bench Boys,” as Pishkur calls his reserves. They are on their feet in the dugout throughout the game supporting their teammates.

“That’s what we do, kind of like bench captains,” Stanich said. “We’re one team and no one complains about not playing here. We’re all in this together.”

For the third time in as many sectional games, the 59ers scored five runs in the first inning. Andrean (26-6) drew four walks and one batter was hit by a pitch in the first inning and Twin Lakes (13-19) didn’t recover.

“Being the postseason, I think some of the pitchers we’ve faced were a little nervous, butterflies in the stomach, and we were patient and waited on good pitches to hit,” Pishkur said. “But I don’t know if that will continue going on in the playoffs.”

Andrean will play Griffith on Saturday in the regional at Griffith.

The 59ers’ Charles Jones reached base all four times and scored two runs with one RBI. Thompson had two hits, one run and one RBI. Senior Thomas Schutz had two RBIs and scored twice, while senior Nick Fushi had two doubles, three RBIs and one run.

Thompson only allowed two hits in picking up the win and was grateful for the support from the “Bench Boys.”

The dugout dwellers often yell out nicknames and Thompson’s is “The Buffalo.”

Why? “It’s because of my hair,” Thompson said with a laugh.

Thompson has a streak of hair dyed blond on the back of his head.

“It’s always good to know those guys are in there, making some noise and having our back,” Thompson said. “They are a big part of what we do.”

“It rubs off on us,” Fushi added. “It gives us more energy. They’re great.”

Ochi plans on attending Purdue Northwest to study construction engineering and management technology. Stanich is also going to PNW and is undecided right now.

As soon as the season is over, both plan to stop playing baseball. So that has them yelling and clapping and screaming all the more for one collective reason.

“I want this team to go as far as it can and win our last game,” Ochi said.

“I’d love to finish my career in Indianapolis,” Stanich said. “That is our goal.”