By Laura Amato
This one hurt, but through the tears and the disappointment, the American Studies baseball team did its best to find the silver lining.
The Eagles came up short of their city championship aspirations Monday afternoon, falling 2-1 in eight innings to Petrides in the PSAL “AA” final at Yankee Stadium. It was a heartbreaking loss – the game-winning hit came with two outs and two strikes in the bottom of the eighth – but American Studies knows there’s still plenty to be proud of this season.
“I’ve had some of these seniors that couldn’t even catch or throw baseballs in ninth grade and they’ve worked hard every day,” Eagles coach William Carey Jr. said. “They put in work over the summer for themselves, have come in and be leaders and you see the results. These kids have really put in a lot of work and I’m still super proud of them.”
Senior pitcher Julian Schwarz was nothing short of dominant in the early-goings of the game, setting down Petrides’ powerful lineup with ease. He retired the first 12 batters he faced, keeping the squad on its collective toes from the first pitch.
“Julian has been the leader since he came in as a freshman,” Carey said. “He’s been playing and starting in the field forever. He was ready for this.”
Of course, it helped that Schwarz had a bit of breathing room as well.
American Studies grabbed a one-run lead in the top of the first as Tran Hennessy connected on a leadoff single before scoring on Schwarz’s flyout to deep left field. It was enough to give the Eagles’ ace a bit of a cushion on the mound.
That cushion, however, deflated just a bit in the top of the fifth inning.
Schwarz gave up a leadoff walk to Anthony Sperto, giving Petrides their first base runner and the Panthers took advantage. Christophe Boyd broke up Schwarz’s no-hitter with a bloop single to short left field, tying up the game and giving Schwarz a brand-new challenge.
The Eagles got out of the jam, however, thanks to a dominant defensive play. Andrew Meshaj overthrew third base, trying to pick off the runner, but Jorge Salazar, grabbed the ball and threw the runner out at home, preserving the tie, as well as American Studies’ confidence down the stretch.
“We spend so much time just catching and throwing and getting all the basics down,” Carey said. “It’s just about how to play baseball, if you can catch and throw well, you can do anything. And these kids take a great amount of pride in that.”
The Eagles struggled to find a rhythm at the plate down the stretch, but Schwarz continued to find a groove on the mound. He worked out of a seventh-inning jam, striking out the final batter he faced to force extras.
American Studies went down in order in the top of the eighth and Petrides took advantage of an Eagles pitching change to score the game-winning run.
Anthony Miceli was down to his last strike, but found a pitch right over the middle, driving it into left field and scoring Daniel Apollonio for the win.
It’s a tough loss for American Studies, but the squad is already determined to get back to the title game, certain the script will switch next year.
“It’s amazing,” Carey said. “Through hard work and getting these kids in the gym every day and really trying to push themselves, it really showed here. We’ve got a great crew coming back, the future’s definitely bright here.”