As a freshman Heuvelton Centrals Jack Palmer got the call to pitch a Section 10 Championship game and things didnt work our well at all.
The Bulldogs suffered through a poor defensive effort and lost to top-seeded Lisbon.
On Saturday, Palmer got the ball as a senior to start against Harrisville in a duel of NAC West Division Co-Champions, and match up with the Pirates NAC West MVP Justin Hartle.
On the bus ride to St. Lawrence Universitys Tom Fay Field, Palmers teammates told him there would be no flashback. They told him to throw strikes and that they had his back.
Palmer threw strikes and the 16-2 Bulldogs had his back on the field and at the plate. The Bulldogs made no fielding errors and scored seven times in the third inning to anchor a 10-3 victory and secure a berth in the state tournament which will open on Friday with a trip to Shuttleworth Park to play Section 2 champion Oppenheim-Ephratah-St. Johnsville.
The winner of Fridays game plays at a Section 7 site against Lake Placid on Saturday.
Palmer picked up Saturdays victory pitching four innings where he allowed three runs on six hits but walked just one and used his four strikeouts to end Harrisville scoring threats.
Coach Dave Steele then gave the ball to sophomore ace Mike Martin, who recorded a save by striking out five in three scoreless innings.
I just pitched the way I always pitched. I just wanted to throw strikes because I have a good defense behind me, said Palmer who also stroked a two-run single in the seven-run third inning and made a textbook stretch at firstbase to dig out a low throw for the second out of the seventh inning.
We had a lot of young guys who really stepped up this season so we could win it two years in a row after losing so many good seniors.
One of the young players who stepped up big for the Bulldogs was sophomore catcher Jordan Macaulay, who made a key play to secure the 6-5 semi-final win over Madrid-Waddington. He singled twice and threw out a runner at second on a steal attempt in the finale.
We have good pitchers. I just try and block the ball, said Macaulay. This really feels good.
Offensively, the Bulldogs took advantage of the game of inches to travel the first mile on the road which could lead to the New York State Final Four in Binghamton.
In the seven-run third inning key Heuvelton hits settled in just out of the reach of Harrisville (15-2) defenders and the Bulldogs capitalized by scoring five times before the first out was recorded.
Colin Trathen walked, Ben Jacobs and Mike Martin singled to load the bases. Aidan Scagel, Andrew Woodard and Jordan Macaulay all stroked RBI singles and Jack Palmer and Trathen delivered two-run singles.
In the three-run fifth inning, Dylan Liscum singled, Cole Piercey picked up his second RBI of the game on a fielders choice and Trathen and Jacobs, batting eighth and ninth, delivered their second RBI singles in the game.
This was very just or fitting that our two teams would play for the title. They beat us with two big innings and in both we were in position to make plays but just didnt do it, Harrisville coach Shane Countryman said.
Heuvelton was definitely the better team today. They made the plays and their pitchers did a good job.
Kevin Kapfer singled twice and plated a run with a sacrifice fly for Harrisville and Chris Sullivan doubled and scored.
The Pirates received solo singles from Jared Dreythaler, Tim Fowler, Justin Hartle who went the distance on the mound, Justin Brackett (RBI) and Tyler Sale.
We came in today with a lot of confidence after wins over Parishville-Hopkinton and Madrid-Waddington. This is really a big win. Harrisville has excellent athletes and Shane Countryman is a great coach, said Heuvelton Coach Dave Steele who shared the NAC West Coach of the Year Award with Coach Countryman.
We have talked to the guys all season about putting yourself into position to win. Today we did that by making the plays behind our pitchers and putting the ball in play and making their defense work.