The team known more for it books than ball will not able to call itself city champions after a magical ride to the title game.
The second-seeded American Studies at Lehman College baseball team was shutout by No. 12 East Side Community 7-0 in the PSAL Class AA title game at Yankee Stadium on May 3. The Senators, who were making their first final appearance, collected just two hits against East Side starter Timothy Lopez. He struck out six and also drove in three runs at the plate.
“This one game doesn’t really define us,” said American Studies senior shortstop Jonathan Rubin. “We know what we did this season. We know what we accomplished and I am proud of that.”
The season was still a resounding for the small Bronx school, which is the top-ranked public school in New York State and No. 11 in the country by U.S. News and World Report. Its enrollment is just 400 students.
American Studies, who was the No. 29 seed in the ‘B’ division last season, finished second in the Bronx AA West league in 2015. It won 15 straight games before losing in the final. Many of them came with its home field of Harris Park deemed unplayable midway through the season.
The Senators beat division winner and borough rival Bronx Science 12-2 in the semifinals. American Studies (17-3) also took down much bigger schools such as Curtis and Townsend Harris along with way.
“They have nothing to be ashamed of,” Senators coach Howard Blitz said. “There are probably like 75 teams in AA, 73 of them are still in school right now. We are here in Yankee Stadium on a beautiful day playing baseball.”
The magic ran out in the title game. East Side led just 1-0 on an RBI single by Lopez off reliever Jack Buckley in the fourth. The Tigers opened the game up an inning later with a five-run fifth. The big blow was a two-run single by Hassane Azir off Eli Kimbell to make it 4-0. Lopez added another RBI single to put East Side up six. Blitz felt his team ran out of gas after playing eight games in 11 days to close the regular season and the emotion of knocking off Bronx Science. His players agreed.
“I think we got wrapped up in the whole thing,” Rubin said. “At the end of the day its just a game, a game we got to win. I don’t think we had the energy we have most games.”
Two errors, including a throw to first that got away, hurt American Studies in the frame in an otherwise well pitched game. East Side scattered seven hits over the other six innings. Blitz started senior Samuel Frere-Holmes, who is awaiting Tommy John surgery, on the mound. He loaded the bases with one out in the first, before Buckley came onto strick out the next two batters to end the threat. Frere-Holmes was told he could not do any more damage to his arm.
East Side eventually broke through and used the big fifth inning to end American Studies title dream. The defeat was the only thing that took away from a memorable day.
“We are in the same dugout as the Yankees,” Buckley said. “The only thing that could have make it better was if we won.”