As spring approaches, Stuyvesant’s boys’ varsity baseball team, the Hitmen, is already preparing daily for the upcoming season, whether it is by scrimmaging with the junior varsity team, going to the weight room or hitting in a batting cage. However, even with the addition of nine new players, the chemistry on the team has remained intact. “They’re all really enthusiastic, and I noticed we are having a lot of fun. I think this group of kids is really great,” senior and captain Nick Gallo said.
“A lot of the guys are good friends away from the team,” coach John Carlesi said. “They knew each other from [junior varsity] or have known each other from practices or winter workouts.”
While the influx of new players gives the Hitmen reason to look forward to the season, they will still miss the eight total players—six graduating seniors and two current seniors—who are no longer on the team. Included in these eight players are all four captains from last year, Nolan Becker (’09), Zach Karson (’09), Nick Rozar (’09) and Nick Wheatley-Schaller (’09).
Gallo, the team’s lone left-handed pitcher, has the responsibility of filling the void left by the loss of Becker, the team’s ace last year, who pitched a perfect game against Manhattan Bridges High School on Wednesday, April 8. “Losing a [Becker] is always a big thing, but we have [Gallo] still. He won five games for us last year and is a very good player,” Carlesi said. The Hitmen will rely on Gallo, along with the returning juniors and sophomores. Last season both then-sophomore catchers Jakob Moran and Clay Gibson made the move to varsity so they could learn to “throw, frame and really call a good game,” Carlesi said.
Although they did not play very much, Moran and Gibson are some of the many juniors who are “stepping up in every aspect of the game,” said coach Matthew Hahn. On the 19-man roster, 13 players are juniors.
Moran, Gibson along with juniors Jack Zurier, Lionel Jensen and Scott Chiusano have the experience needed to help their new junior teammates make the transition to varsity. This experience, along with the depth the new players provide, will help the Hitmen in achieving their playoff hopes.
The Hitmen are already off to a good start, winning their first four exhibition games of the season before losing to Forest Hills High School 5-0 on Sunday, March 21.
Although none of these games were in league play, the Hitmen have begun to answer questions concerning their hitting, scoring six runs in their first game and seven more in their second. “The surprising part is we are starting to hit, we need to hit more,” Hahn said. “That is probably going to be our biggest weakness, our pitching is looking good. The pitchers have been throwing strikes. The defense has been playing very well, we had some great plays in those first games.”
Gallo, Zurier and sophomores Evan Lubin and Kyle Yee will head a very strong pitching staff. Zurier and Gallo both pitched very well last season, while Lubin had four wins for junior varsity, allowing only two hits all season. “We have really good depth at pitching, we have defense, our hitting has always been a problem but we have worked hard at it and I think it will turn around,” Carlesi said. “But defense wins games.”
Last year the Hitmen made the playoffs for the 13th consecutive year, despite playing in the Public School Athletic League’s Manhattan A division, thought to be one of the tougher baseball divisions. “Our goal is always to make the playoffs and I think we will have that chance again,” Carlesi said.