Christie helps Delbarton down Mo-Beard
It’s a conversation invariably heard at some point, somewhere during the course of a Delbarton game.
A couple of fans looking behind home plate, gesturing toward the Green Wave catcher, one identifying him to the unsuspecting other.
“That’s the Governor’s kid” you’ll here.
On Saturday, behind his timely hitting, intuitive reactions and quality defense, the Governor’s kid made one thing abundantly clear: Andrew Christie has a name and some game to go with it.
The senior catcher went 3-for-3, drove in a big insurance run late, managed a sharp one-hit gem by junior John Masella and made two big throws to erase base runners to spark top-seeded Delbarton to a 4-1 triumph over fifth-seeded Morristown-Beard on Saturday in the semifinals of the Morris County Tournament at Debarton in Morristown.
And he did it all in front of a proud dad, New Jersey’s Governor Chris Christie.
“He performs extremely well defensively every day for us,” Delbarton coach Bruce Shatel said. “And, he swings the bat. His offensive ability is understated. Because he hits eighth in our order, it’s not a knock. He has the inner strength to come through in big spots. When he walks up to the plate in a tight game, I feel real good about how things are going to turn out.”
Christie sparked Delbarton (12-5) by legging out an infield single to lead off the third. He was lifted for courtesy runner Guiseppe Bevacqua, who had a busy day in store replacing the senior backstop three times on the bases and scoring twice, including on Tom Napoli’s sacrifice fly for a 1-0 lead.
With one out in the fifth, it was Christie getting things started once again with a line-drive single to left. Bevacqua entered, stole second and came in on a single by Billy Carroll to make it 3-1.
Christie capped his offensive exploits with an RBI single in the sixth.
“I just always try to have fun,” Christie said. “Usually, when you’re having fun, you play well.”
If true, then Christie was having a blast. Masella made his life easy from a receiving standpoint by painting the black with his fastball en route to ringing up seven strikeouts during an outing in which he only got stronger as the game progressed. He punctuated his effort by retiring 10 batters in order, including striking out the side in the fifth.
“As soon as he gets in that rhythm, it’s hard to get him out of it,” Christie said of his batterymate. “He had one tough inning and I said you got to make these guys hit it. When he does that, he’s great.”
And, when runners managed to get on base, Christie was eager to remove them, He threw out a would-be base stealer to end the top of the second but displayed his defensive awareness in the fourth.
With one out and the bases loaded, Nick Naples, who accounted for the lone hit for Morristown-Beard (10-3-1) with a two-out single in the second, lifted a sacrifice fly to left. The throw home was late and up the third-base line in foul territory, prompting the runner on second to tag for third. However, Christie hustled off the plate to meet the ball and launched a strike to third baseman Kevin Kennedy, who put down the tag for the inning-ending double play.
“The ball kind of tailed, so the run was going to score but I had to go after the ball so I didn’t go to the backstop,” Christie said. “I got it on one hop, saw the guy breaking for third and, it was kind of baseball, natural instincts. Just catch it and throw it.”
Billy Carroll went 2-for-3 with an RBI and run scored while Kennedy finished 2-for-3 with a pair of singles, including a run-scoring base hit in the third.
Gregg Lerner covers baseball for MSG Varsity. Follow him on Twitter: @gregglerner