The Peglegs’ Immaculate Start
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Just last season, the Peglegs, Stuyvesant’s boys’ varsity baseball team, had a historical run in the PSAL playoffs, beating the division’s one-seed en route to the semifinals. The performance was not only the furthest Stuyvesant had ever made it in the playoffs but the furthest by any specialized high school. One year later, the team is back and better than ever. Led by senior captains pitcher Iravan Bhattacharyya, second baseman Julian Duran, catcher Adam Lucey, and third baseman Julian Malenda, as well as Coach John Carlesi, they have started another exciting season with hopes of winning it all.
After last season ended, the Peglegs jumped right back into preparation for this season. With a talented rotation filled with potential, Carlesi prioritized pitching in the offseason, ensuring that his pitchers would be ready for the spring. “We have four players that throw [over] 80 mph. Getting them to focus on location and their off-speed pitches was a priority,” Carlesi said.
In the weeks leading up to opening day, the Peglegs regularly scrimmaged and played non-league games against other teams. Over winter break, the team packed their bags for Florida, where they trained and competed for a week away from the cold New York City weather. The scrimmages, along with the trip as a whole, helped ready the players for the season and boosted team chemistry and morale. “Over the trip you really get to know your teammates on a personal level; it starts to feel like more than a team,” sophomore center fielder and pitcher Victor Kamrowski said.
The Peglegs played their home opener against division rival Newtown High School on March 23. The Peglegs had defeated Newtown in both of their games last year, and they scheduled to start the season with two consecutive games against the Newtown Pioneers to continue the trend.
The offense came alive right off the bat in the bottom of the first inning. With a crack that echoed across the field, junior outfielder Axel Riess launched a double to deep center field, batting in two runs. This was followed by Bhattacharyya’s infield single, as Riess flew along the basepath to score from second base. With a 3-1 lead, the offense had another burst in the third inning. After Malenda took a pitch to deep left field, just fair by a couple of feet along the foul line, he hustled a triple, as two runners ran home. Two wild pitches in the dirt by Newtown brought home two more, prompting a pitching change. Riess made contact once again with a single to left, batting in two runs and placing the Peglegs in command with a 9-1 lead over Newtown.
On the pitching side, Bhattacharyya was dominant. The first inning started off shaky, with Newtown tacking on three hits and scoring a run. However, the Pegleg defense was able to save a run. Kamrowski tracked down a triple into deep right-center field and perfectly executed a double relay to gun down an opposing player trying to score from second base. “It was a very difficult play that our fielders executed perfectly,” said Carlesi. Bhattacharyya bounced back in the second inning in spectacular fashion. The Pegleg ace was one pitch shy of an immaculate inning, throwing 10 pitches and striking out the side. After the three hits in the first inning, the Newtown offense couldn’t record a hit for the remainder of the game. Kamrowski relieved Bhattacharyya in the fifth inning to seal the game, striking out a batter in the process. Two bases-loaded walks from Newtown completed the opening day win for the Peglegs––11-1 by mercy rule.
After 4.2 innings of work and 82 pitches, Bhattacharyya finished with a line of one earned run, three hits, and 10 strikeouts while batting two-for-three at the plate with two RBIs. The ace credits the team’s energy and support to their opening day success. “We kept our energy up the whole game, which led to our batting and pitching dominating the other team,” Bhattacharyya said.
Even with a huge win on opening day, the game only provided a glimpse of what this team can accomplish this season. With so many offensive weapons, as well as a strong pitching rotation, the team has all the pieces in line for success. An exciting season is ahead, likely to result in another tight division race against Beacon High School. Last season, Stuyvesant finished second in the division, just one game behind first-place Beacon. “They always seem to be a big rivalry,” Carlesi said. “Last year we split the series, but during our first game when we lost, we had the benches clear. But the next game we came back and beat them 12-5.”
Though the Beacon series is exciting, Bhattacharyya has a higher ceiling in mind. “Ideally, the championship game,” the pitcher said when asked about the game he was looking forward to the most. “The idea of putting it all on the line for the city championship with my teammates seems pretty cool. Yes, there’s a long journey before we get there, but I’m keeping my eyes on the big picture.”
After such a dominant 2022 season, expectations and goals are high for the Peglegs. “Our goal is to always make the playoffs, but lately, it’s been to get a good seed,” Carlesi said. “Last year, we finished ninth in NYC’s top division. PSAL coaches have predicted that we would finish 12th this season, which is amazing, but after last year and the team we have this year, I think we can do better.”
Even with the high expectations, there is certainly no reason to believe that the team won’t exceed them. With a strong start right off the bat, it doesn’t look like the Peglegs plan to slow down.