Like the other 26 teams in the field for the Public School Athletic League’s AA baseball playoffs, American Studies was eager to get its postseason party going.
The ninth-seeded Senators were all set to host No. 24 Port Richmond of Staten Island last week in a postseason opener, so much so that head coach Pete Nizzari had his players grooming the field into shape prior to the game after a series of rain-filled days.
But Port Richmond head coach John Sce still found a reason not to play. He was upset there was a small hole in the infield dirt near first base and he called the field unplayable. He then packed up his team for the trip back over the Verrazano Bridge.
The game was rescheduled for the next day, but was moved to a neutral field in Queens, costing the Senators a home playoff game and raising the ire of both Nizzari and his players.
“We just felt that if their coach really wanted to play he would have found a way to allow us to fix the tiny hole at first,” Senators’ senior captain Julian Trebach said. “Especially since we all went out of our way to fix the puddles on the field. It just made us feel that they really didn’t want to play us.”
But Sce’s decision to scrap the game last Wednesday only delayed the inevitable as American Studies focused their anger on the Raiders and came away with a 7-5 victory. The win advanced the Senators to the second round, but that’s where they saw their season come to an end in a 10-6 loss to Petrides High of Staten Island.
In the win over Port Richmond, the Senators jumped to a 5-0 lead before the Raiders trimmed their deficit to 5-3 in the top of the fifth. But Casey Press stroked a clutch two-run single in the bottom of that inning to plate both Trebach and Damon Lawrence Jr., for a 7-3 Senators lead. And they held on from there.
Playing Wednesday was big for Trebach because he and classmate Connor Regan were supposed to be on their senior trip to Philadelphia.
“The plan was for us to play the game, miss the first part of the trip, but then go down to Philly Wednesday night and still get to stay overnight with our class and experience the whole second day,” Trebach said. “So Connor and I, we were mad, because now we had to miss the whole trip that we had already paid for.”
It was tough for Trebach to forego his senior trip, but the decision for Regan and him to stay with the team was a no-brainer.
“It was nice that we did beat that team,” he said.
“It felt really good to get revenge on them. It was a very satisfying win in a year that saw a lot of satisfying wins.”
Walks and the inability to shut down a big inning by Petrides were the culprits in the Senators’ season-ending defeat. After American Studies took a 6-1 lead after two innings, Petrides erupted for eight runs in the third with Kyle O’Hare’s three-run homer the key blast in the rally as the Panthers took a 9-6 lead.
The Senators issued 12 walk in the game against just five hits, while the American Studies offense was kept in check with the Senators never scoring again after the second inning.
“The walks hurt,” Trebach said. “It was a mix of walks and us not able to close off the bleeding in that big inning.”
American Studies ended the year 12-3 in the regular season, good for second place in the Bronx AA West Division before going 1-1 in the postseason. All in all, a very satisfying year for the Senators.
“This season you couldn’t have asked for more,” Trebach said. “We know we gave it our all. And my teammates were great. Casey and Ari (Wigder), I absolutely rave about them. They really helped carry the team, them and Jack Friedman and Damon Lawrence. They made my job as captain so much easier.
“Instead of there being just one captain I felt like we had five leaders on this team.”