With a little inspiration and a bit of incentive, Heuvelton recorded a baseball and softball sectional sweep Saturday.
The Heuvelton baseball team, spurred on by the memory of a loss four years ago, defeated Harrisville 10-3 in the Section 10 Class D title game at St. Lawrence Universitys Tom Fay Field in Canton.
The Heuvelton softball team, with fellow student and cancer patient Andrew Streeter on their mind, rallied to defeat Colton-Pierrepont 3-1 in its Section 10 Class D championship at SUNY Potsdam.
Both teams now advance to state play next Friday.
HEUVELTON 10, HARRISVILLE 3
As a freshman, Heuveltons Jack Palmer got the call to pitch the Section 10 Championship game and things didnt work our well at all.
The Bulldogs suffered through a poor defensive effort and fell to top-seeded Lisbon.
On Saturday, now a senior, Palmer got the ball to start against Harrisville in a duel of Northern Athletic Conference West Division co-champions, matching up with the Pirates Justin Hartle, the NAC West MVP.
During the bus ride to the 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 made no fielding errors and scored seven times in the third inning for the victory. Heuvelton will open state play Friday with a trip to Shuttleworth Park in Amsterdam 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 the victory by pitching four innings. 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 first base 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, Palmer added.
One of the young players who delivered for the Bulldogs was sophomore catcher Jordan Macaulay. He singled twice and threw out a runner at second on a steal attempt.
We have good pitchers. I just try and block the ball, Macaulay said. This really feels good.
In the seven-run inning key Heuvelton hits settled just out of the reach of Harrisvilles defenders, and the Bulldogs capitalized by scoring five times before the first out was recorded.
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, said Harrisville coach Shane Countryman.
Kevin Kapfer singled twice and plated a run with a sacrifice fly for Harrisville (15-2), and Chris Sullivan doubled and scored.
HARRISVILLE 3, COLTON-PIERREPONT 1
Top-seeded Heuvelton found itself in an unfamiliar scenario against No. 2 seed Colton-Pierrepont.
The defending champion Bulldogs were down a run early.
But the Bulldogs (19-0) drew upon some additional motivation from classmates Streeter, who was recently diagnosed with cancer, and fought back to claim the victory.
The Bulldogs have worn green ribbons in their hair and uniform since they learned of Streeters diagnosis.
The victory gave the Bulldogs their second straight Class D title and the schools sixth straight overall.
For senior Alexis Weidner, Streeters inspiration was very evident.
Andys showing us what it takes to beat something. Hes giving us strength, Weidner said. Today, we got down but we didnt bend. We battled back against a good team.
Weidner also sacrificed a starting pitching role in the finale.
I would have loved to pitch today. But Coach (Josie) Cole and (assistant Eliza) Pierce had a game plan set and I respect their decision, she said. We are all one team.
On the first batter of the day, Weidner recorded a 4-3 putout. She followed with three more for winning pitcher Paige McCormick, who shared the NAC Class D West Division MVP award with sophomore catcher Hannah Thornhill. McCormick tossed a three-hitter, walked two and struck out 10 batters.