The Peglegs, Stuyvesant’s boys’ varsity baseball team, headed into the 2016 playoffs with momentum and confidence. After bouncing back from their dismal 3-13 2015 campaign, the team clinched playoffs with a 7-9 record. Despite playing their best baseball at the end of the year, the team suffered a heartbreaking extra-innings loss in the playoffs. The Peglegs look to build off their successful 2016 campaign and continue the momentum they had into this season as they strive for even further improvement.
“We obviously caught a tough break last year in the first round of the playoffs losing in extra innings to a team with a better seed,” senior and co-captain Jack Archer said. “But I think there was a lot to learn from that game and last season as a whole. Rather than change the course, I think we need to build off last year’s energy that got us to the playoffs and learn from the mistakes that took us out of it.”
However, the road to another playoff run will not be easy. The team will look to replace nine seniors, including former captain Nathan Chandler (‘16), who led the team in batting average and now plays at the collegiate level. “Losing so many seniors, especially Nathan, will be difficult. They composed the heart of our lineup and donned the nickname ‘bombsquad’ last year,” Archer said.
New guys that had previously not started and/or played on JV are going to need to take the reins and have some big shoes to fill, particularly on the offensive side. “It’s true though that some of the best hitters on the team last year left, so we will have to make the most of what we have,” sophomore Malcolm Hubbell said. However, the team has retained the core of its pitching staff. “Last year’s seniors were very good, however, we are confident we can do well this year, since our two best pitchers last year, Jack Archer and Toby Lange, are still at Stuy,” Hubbell said.
Despite the departure of many starting seniors, head coach John Carlesi believes his team has the potential to be better than they were last season. “I do not think depth is an issue this year. We have very good pitching from starters to relief, and defense looks better than last year. We lost some big hitters last year, but I am hopeful that some of the guys that were getting hot at the end of last season will carry that over to this season,” Carlesi said. This year’s team also consists of a senior class that has strong team chemistry. “Our senior class is very close this year; many have been on the varsity team for the past three years together, which is great for team bonding. I always feel that the closer a team is outside of their sport, the stronger they will be on the field,” Carlesi said.
The seniors will look not only to lead the team on the field, but make the transition for many new faces on the team smoother. “The transition from JV to varsity hasn’t been too hard, because JV goes to Florida with the Varsity team. Also, we’re all familiar with Coach Carlesi, as he’s very involved in both teams, even though he only coaches varsity,” junior Michael Gillow said.
“I am hoping I can be a positive influence on my teammates and prepare myself for competition at the college level,” Archer said. This smooth transition may prove to be essential this season, as last year’s JV team saw extensive success, finishing at 9-1 on the season.
The team worked hard during the offseason, organizing workouts during the winter with Carlesi. They continued their offseason training in Florida, where the team spent their mid-winter break finally getting back on the field and preparing for the long season ahead. Defense was one of the weaknesses coming into the season for the Peglegs, but with the entire infield returning to the team, they do not believe this will be an area of concern. “The other things that hurt us last year were errors in the infield. Our infield was comprised mostly of juniors, so hopefully, with another year of maturity, these issues will go away,” Carlesi said.
After the trip to Florida, Archer said, “Our pitching is our clear strong suit, as Tobias and I were two of the top pitchers in the city last year as juniors. I think we probably have the strongest team we have ever had at Stuyvesant, and I think we are capable of beating any team we play.” The strength and potential of the pitching staff were in full effect in pre-season scrimmages. In their first scrimmage against Collegiate High School, Archer and sophomore Jeremy Rubin combined to throw a no-hitter, and the Peglegs went on to win 5-0. In the following scrimmage against Trinity High School, pitchers Tobias Lange, senior Joseph Halim, and sophomore Jared Asch combined to strike out 14 batters. The team knows the strength of their rotation and expects nothing less than a playoff appearance. “Our goal is always to make the playoffs and see what can happen. I think with this pitching staff we have a good shot at making some noise in our division,” Carlesi said.