As much as they tried to play it off as just another game, just about anyone could feel this one was different for the American Studies baseball team.
There was the animated pregame huddle along the right field line. An aggressive offense that looked for any and every opportunity to jump on Evander starting pitcher Anthony Matamoros. And an amped-up cheering section on the Senators bench that had you thinking you might have wandered into a European soccer match.
So why was this one different for the Senators? Because it was this very same Evander team which handed American Studies its only loss of the season, a 10-2 drubbing on opening day. So it was a game that was circled on the Senators’ calendar as they looked to exact some revenge.
With starting pitcher Casey Press turning in a near-flawless performance on the mound while the rest of his team achieved timely hitting from all over their lineup, American Studies showed no mercy, posting a 10-0 victory in a mercy-rule shortened game at Harris Field. The victory boosted the Senators’ season record to 4-1.
The hooting and hollering following the victory was everywhere — and from everyone wearing the Senators’ vintage blue pinstripe uniforms.
“This was definitely one of our biggest games so far this year,” said Press, who struck out five and allowed just two hits and two walks. “We obviously don’t take losing lightly, so it was definitely good to come out here and get a little revenge.”
The Senators got on the board in the first inning when Damon Lawrence Jr., scored on Jack Friedman’s single to right for an early 1-0 lead. They increased their cushion to 3-0 in the third on RBI singles by Friedman and Anderson Kovesci.
In the meantime, Press was on cruise control, running into trouble just once in the top of the fourth inning when an infield hit and back-to-back walks with two outs loaded the bases for Evander. But Press got Alex Rodriguez Bello to hit a hard smash to third, which Nick Bliss grabbed, tagging Evander’s Rommy Jimenez as he approached third to end the inning.
Evander never threatened again, but the Senators sure did.
They added five more runs in the fourth with Press, Friedman and Kovesci all taking turns adding tallies to the scoreboard as the Senators built an 8-0 lead after four innings. Then after Press shut the Tigers down in the top of the fifth, American Studies added two more in the bottom half, with the final run coming on a bases-loaded walk to Kovesci to mercifully end the game.
“These guys, especially last year, were definitely the team we were chasing down,” Senators first baseman Ari Wigder said of Evander. “But I think this year they will be chasing us down the stretch.”
But as much as everyone talked about the win afterward, there was also equal praise for Press’ latest gem.
“Casey was lights out,” head coach Pete Nizzari said. “When he’s on, when he keeps the ball very low in the zone, he’s very tough to hit. He also has a nice breaking ball which he threw today. He’s just a very, very good pitcher.”
Wigder also gave Press a glowing review.
“He was solid all around,” Wigder said. “He did a good job hitting his spots and using his curveball to keep those guys off balance. I think that’s the third straight year he’s come out and shut them down the second time we played them. It’s nice to see he still got it.”
This was a different Senators team than the one who lost to Evander by eight runs on opening day.
“Our first time out … we threw the ball all over the place and hit into two double plays,” Nizzari said. “But we’ve been coming on since then. What are we doing? We’re putting our bats on the ball. We’re also making all the plays and we’re getting great pitching. I’m very proud of them.”
With the season series with Evander now over, the next divisional test for the Senators will come in early May when they face off against an Inwood Academy team that is currently unbeaten at 4-0 in its first year in the division.
Not to worry, Wigder says.
“We’ll have to see about them because they’re kind of new,” he said. “But we’ve got them circled on our calendar as well.”