CANTON - Heuvelton Central used one of the best postseason hitting tears in school history to reach Saturday’s Class D Regional Championship baseball game against Lake Placid. And to build a 4-0 lead heading into the sixth inning at St. Lawrence University.
But the only player not to get a hit in sectional or regional play, rightfielder Joe McDonnell, made the play which sealed a 4-3 win and vaulted the 18-2 Bulldogs into Saturday’s New York State Final Four at Broome Community College.
McDonnell is the flex player in the ninth spot of the Heuvelton lineup, where DH Ben Jacobs has produced a lot of hits, and he made a running, juggling catch on a looping flyball by Ryan Damp with one out in the bottom of the seventh and runners on second and thirdbase. “I was a little scared and I didn’t know if Joey was going to get to the ball. But he is a very good athlete and he is very fast,” said centerfielder Dylan Liscum.
McDonnell needed all his speed to reach the ball and used his athletic ability to adeptly flip it up in the air and into his glove. He then relayed the ball into the infield as the Blue Bombers’ Dan Moore raced home with the apparent tying run.
Catcher Jordan Macaulay alertly asked HCS Coach Dave Steele to appeal third and the runner was called out for not tagging up on the play.
A quick conference by the umpires confirmed the call and the Bulldogs celebrated their program’s first Final Four trip since 2006.
Heuvelton will play in the state semi-finals on Saturday at 1 p.m. at Broome Community College against Section 4’s Hancock which beat Oriskany 2-0 on a no-hitter by Ryan Smith. Batavia Notre Dame of Section 5 and Smithtown Christian of Section 11 meet in the other semi-final.
“I just thought the runner got to the plate awfully fast. So I figured it was worth a try,” said Macaulay.
As far as McDonnell was concerned he had to make the play to make up for a mistake he made earlier which aided a Lake Placid run.
“I had to make that play to pick myself up and help my teammates win. I got to the ball but I couldn’t catch it so I flipped it up in the air into my glove,” said McDonnell.
The play thwarted a last-ditch comeback effort by the Section 7 Champion Blue Bombers (5-9) who made four outstanding plays in the infield to prevent the Bulldogs from taking total command of the game with their 11 hits.
Eight players hit safely for Heuvelton just a matter of hours after nine different players drove in a run in a 14-0 semi-final victory over Section 2’s Oppenheim-Euphrata-St. Johnsville in Amsterdam.
Dylan Liscum led the way with three singles, Mike Martin singled, doubled and rapped a sacrifice fling, winning pitcher Jack Palmer singled twice and scored twice and Andrew Woodard, Macaulay, Cole Piercey, Colin Trathen and Ben Jacobs all added singles.
“Nobody gave us a chance to do this because we had so many young players,” said Liscum. “I call them prodigies in the making and we all play Heuvelton Baseball.”
Palmer, who picked up in the win the Section 10 championship game, pitched five scoreless innings but issued two walks in the sixth was relieved by Mike Martin who pitched a complete win on Friday.
Alex Brandes and Tyler Angelodes singled to produce three runs and Shane McNierney and Moore singled in the seventh before McDonnell’s game-ending double play.
“This is just a special group. There is no selfishness and everything is all about the team. Jack Palmer pitched a great game but got in some trouble so I went to Mike Martin in the sixth” said Heuvelton Coach Dave Steele after HCS recorded its 17th straight win and did not make a fielding error.
“They have put it all together and have been hitting ball like nobody I have ever seen before. Lake Placid made some nice defensive plays and we made a few mistakes on the bases to make it interesting until Joe McDonnell made that great play.”
McNierney singled twice for Lake Placid.
Heuvelton 14 - OHS 1: All nine spots in the lineup produced an RBI on Friday as Heuvelton team used a 11 hit attack to defeat Oppenheim-Ephratah/St. Johnsville 14-0.
Mike Martin fanned nine, walked two and scattered five hits for the Bulldogs. The Bulldogs received two hits each from Aiden Scagel (2-4, 4 runs scored, two RBI), Andrew Woodard (2-5 (2RBI, 2 runs scored), Dylan Liscum (2-5, RBI, 2 runs scored) and Cole Piercey (2-5 2RBi, 2 Runs scored).
“They were a solid team but they made some uncharacteristic mistakes which helped us extend innings and we took advantage. They had two very good hitters that just hit towering shots but Aiden Scagel and Dylan Liscum made outstanding catches. Dylan came up big in the fifth inning. And Mike (Martin) pitched very well allowing just two walks,” said Heuvelton Coach Dave Steele.