Long Beach Poly’s baseball team enters the third week of league play in a position the Jackrabbits haven’t found themselves in for a few years: first place. Poly started the season 3-0 and is tied for first place with Millikan, with the two teams headed for a Wednesday 3:30 p.m. showdown at Blair Field.
A big reason for that success has been the senior leadership of EJ Andrews, the team’s center-fielder and, as a signee with Fresno State, one of the Moore League’s top seniors. Andrews is hitting .368 with 14 runs scored; seven of his 14 hits this season have been for extra bases, including a critical triple in Poly’s comeback extra-innings win over Lakewood.
Andrews has also been a factor in center field with a combination of speed to the ball and the power to throw to the catcher accurately.
“We’re lucky to have someone like him on the roster,” said Poly coach Brent Lavoie.
When asked how long he’s been playing baseball, Andrews just shakes his head.
“I don’t know,” he said. “As long as I can remember.”
Growing up he played every sport his parents could sign him up for, trying football, baseball, basketball, soccer, and tennis. After making the decision to attend Poly over St. John Bosco and enroll in Poly’s CIC academic magnet, Andrews focused on football and baseball.
“I played football my freshman year and I broke my collarbone,” said Andrews with a laugh. “So, you know.”
Lucky for Lavoie and Poly that Andrews planted himself on the diamond, because he bloomed. Andrews had offers from multiple college programs including Long Beach State but committed to the Bulldogs while he was on a visit to Fresno.
“My mom had a meeting there and I emailed the coach about a tour,” he said. “They offered me on the spot—I felt at home.”
Now Andrews is hoping his Jackrabbits can feel at home atop the league standings for a while longer. Poly’s been doing it with offense—they put up 17 hits against Lakewood and 11 last week against Mayfair. Andrews isn’t the only big bat in the Poly lineup, as the Jackrabbits have seven players in the lineup hitting .350 or better.
Andrews said he likes the power of the team’s connection as much as he likes the power in the lineup.
“This team is a lot more in it for each other than previous years,” he said. “We did football training early on in the season and I think that helped bring us together. We all want to see each other succeed.”