The Stuyvesant Hitmen Keep On Hitting

The Stuyvesant baseball team sits at the top of the triple-A division. Read about their season!

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By Phillip Phan

In a season with unpredictable circumstances, Stuyvesant’s varsity baseball team, the Hitmen, has stepped up to the plate. To start the season, the team traveled to Florida for its annual spring training. However, it was unlike any prior trip to Florida the team had taken. The Hitmen endured COVID-19 testing and protocols along the way and were in their own bubble. The team also only faced travel teams hailing from the state of Florida. However, the trip was still a success, bringing the players closer together and preparing them for the upcoming season.

“The goals for this year were simple. We just wanted to try to get all our games in this year since it is a very shortened season. All we really cared about was playing. I did want to see how the ‘new players’ were going to fare against other varsity teams since they [had] only played junior varsity baseball,” head coach of the team John Carlesi said in an e-mail interview. The team has accomplished that objective so far. A roster of sophomores has played key positions on varsity, like catcher Adam Lucey, second baseman Julian Duran, and pitcher Iravan Bhattacharyya. They have played in significant clutch moments and gained valuable experience for their next couple of years on the team.

As for the Stuyvesant junior varsity baseball program, sophomores and freshmen are coached by Coach Charles Sewall and Coach Mike Schneider. The underclassmen have games against other JV teams, but practices have been limited as Sewall has also committed to coaching the Stuyvesant varsity boys’ basketball team.

Not only have the Hitmen been developing their young talent this year, but they have also been as competitive as ever. Before the PSAL even restarted in the spring, the Hitmen played as a travel team and finished with a 7-4 record against tough travel competition. As of now, they have a 4-2 record and sit at the top of their division. To start the season, the Hitmen faced Beacon in a defensive battle. Junior Paul Liou had nine outs and allowed zero hits and one run over three innings, striking out four. Beacon ended up winning 2-1, with Stuyvesant getting on base but failing to get a big hit to finish on top.

The Hitmen’s second game of the PSAL season was one of the biggest wins of the year. According to Coach Matt Hahn, it was the first time in 50 years that Stuyvesant had defeated George Washington (GW) in a game of baseball. The Hitmen won in a nailbiter, in which pitcher Bhattacharyya had a great game, striking out six batters and giving up only two hits while walking three. Juniors Ethan Kirschner and Jonathan Lee produced big hits to beat GW 7-6.

The Hitmen found themselves somewhat less successful in their third game. They lost 1-0 in a matchup against Manhattan Center, in which Liou had 18 outs. The team bounced back against Inwood Campus in its next game, winning 10-4. The Hitmen had nine hits that day and had multiple hits from juniors Sam Levine and Kirschner. A two-run double late in the game from Liou put the game away. The most recent Stuyvesant game was a lopsided affair: the Hitmen defeated Norman Thomas 21-0.

COVID-19 has posed some significant challenges to the team this season.“There’s a shortened season, and we can’t play teams out of Manhattan. There [are] also only four schools in our division, and sometimes, games get canceled. We also have to wear masks during games, which makes it hard to breathe,” Lee said.

Despite the challenges, the season so far has been an overall success. The team has promising young players, and strong pitching is setting it up for a deep playoff run next year. “Long-term goals for this team [are] to win the division next year and to make it to the second round of the playoffs. Whatever happens after that [will] be a bonus,” Carlesi said. The Hitmen have a bright future ahead and look forward to successful upcoming seasons as PSAL fully returns this year.