SCHUYLERVILLE — If the Schuylerville Black Horses pay attention in their classes the way they’ve been on the diamond since the baseball sectionals, look out, honor roll!
Since the sectionals began, the Horses have said something clicked. When asked to explain what, they centered around being more focused. That focus has led them into the final four of Class B and a state semifinal game against Medina at 2 p.m. Friday at Broome Community College.
“We’re more into games, we’re more engaged,” junior pitcher/infielder Alex Vallee said. “We’re all more focused and paying attention to what’s going on. It’s really helping us.”
“Everybody’s been so focused and so determined to win, and that’s how it has to be to win these games,” junior outfielder Colton Weatherwax said.
So focus is the intangible to go along with the usual tangibles of pitching, defense and hitting. Those tangibles, however, have been outstanding. In six postseason games, Schuylerville (17-7) has outscored its opponents 53-4 in reaching its first final four in baseball.
Pitching-wise, Matt McCarthy and Vallee have done the heaviest lifting, but there are several others who are capable of pitching some innings if needed.
“Since sectionals started we’ve allowed four runs, so definitely a switch flipped between that and regular season,” Vallee said. “I don’t know what happened, but when sectionals came, there was some new energy from all of us. I know I was throwing harder than I ever had before.”
Junior outfielder Ryan Yandow said the team made sure its defense was solid during the postseason.
“I know we’ve got to get runs, but if you don’t let anyone score, you’re not going to lose,” he said. “There’s been a lot of talking; we’ve got to be aware of where we are.”
Offensively, Schuylerville’s been solid throughout the lineup, and that’s made things surprisingly easy this postseason. This last game, though, a regional final against heralded Ogdensburg Free Academy pitcher Ethan Baldwin, the runs were going to be harder to get. Still, the Horses got four runs on five hits against a hard-throwing righty who had allowed just four hits all season.
The players feel their Foothills Council schedule helped them at the plate, having to face pitchers from Amsterdam, South Glens Falls and Queensbury.
“We faced some good pitchers this year, but nothing compared to the Ogdensburg kid,” senior catcher Paul Harshbarger said. “Maybe the kids from Queensbury. We like when kids are throwing hard — it gives us the chance to square one up and hit it pretty far.”
Medina (21-2) is making its first state semifinal appearance since 2003. The Mustangs already have achieved the best record in school history.
Harshbarger, one of only three seniors on the roster, said he wants to go out with a bang.
“My last couple of games wearing a Schuylerville jersey and I want to make it memorable,” Harshbarger said. “Obviously we’ve had a historic run. Any way the season ends, it’s going to be great. I’ll look back on this for the rest of my life and think how great it was, but for the rest of the team, we want to go out with a state championship.”