Wolves ready for regional play
AMSTERDAM – Having played 20 games in 51 days on its way to the Section II Class D title, the Oppenheim-Ephratah/St. Johnsville baseball team has enjoyed a rarity over the last eight days – a break.
The Wolves haven’t played since topping defending state Class D champion Fort Ann in the Class D championship game at Joseph L. Bruno Stadium in Troy on May 29.
The wait ends today when Oppenheim-Ephratah/St. Johnsville will face Section X champion Heuvelton at Shuttleworth Park.
Prior to having the last week off, the longest stretch the Wolves went without a game was five days.
The wait has been a challenge for OESJ, which has won six straight and seven of its last eight games.
“We’re ready to go,” Oppenheim-Ephratah/St. Johnsville coach Darin Lynch said. “The team has been ready to play since we beat Fort Ann. The game can’t get here soon enough.”
That may be because the Wolves are hoping to keep their bats red-hot.
OESJ has pounded out 39 hits in its three postseason wins and has double-digit hits in six of its last seven games.
“These kids have been seeing the ball great lately,” Lynch said after his team’s win over Fort Ann. “I really don’t know what it is. They feed off each other. When Dylan Klock starts hitting, the whole team starts hitting.”
Klock led the OESJ hitters in the 7-1 win over Fort Ann, finishing with three doubles and a single. Devan Battisti had a triple and a double and Nick D’Antonino doubled and singled.
The Wolves have been working on keeping their offense rolling.
“In practice [Wednesday], we hit the ball like there was no gap in our schedule,” Lynch said. “I think the bats will be there for us.”
Oppenheim-Ephratah/St. Johnsville, which was the third seed in the Section II tourney, opened the postseason with a 14-10 win over sixth-seeded Germantown on May 22.
Klock finished the game with four doubles, three runs scored and three RBIs for the third-seeded Wolves, who had 11 hits in the game. Johnny Vicciarelli finished with two singles and two RBIs for OESJ, while Payten Johnson and Brad Smith had a single and two RBIs apiece.
In their semifinal contest at East Field in Glens Falls on May 24, the Wolves continued their hot hitting, pounding out 15 hits in a 9-2 win over second-seeded Loudonville Christian.
Smith pitched a four-hitter for Oppenheim-Ephratah/St. Johnsville against Loudonville Christian.
Klock had three singles and a double for the Wolves, while Johnson and Nick D’Antonino each added a single and a double.
Smith and Joe D’Antonino each added two singles for the Wolves, who are 10-3 in their last 13 games after starting the season 4-3.
Smith also earned the win on the mound against Fort Ann, finishing with six strikeouts on his way to a three-hitter.
Having knocked off the Cardinals, who had won five of the last seven Section II Class D titles, the Wolves have plenty of confidence heading into today’s game against Heuvelton.
“If anything, the kids are overly confident,” Lynch said. “I’m trying to bring them back a little bit. They’re a young group and excited to still be playing though.”
Heuvelton (16-2 overall) earned its second straight Section X Class D crown with a 10-3 win over Harrisville at St. Lawrence University’s Tom Fay Field in Canton on Saturday.
“We drove up there Saturday and watched the sectional championship game,” Lynch said. “They’re a good team. At this point in the season though, there are only good teams left playing.”
The Bulldogs won 15 straight after starting the season 1-2.
Heuvelton lost to Fort Ann, 20-0, in the state quarterfinals last year, and the Cardinals went on to win the state title.
In the Section X Class D title game Saturday, Jack Palmer earned the win on the mound, allowing six hits, striking out four and walking one in four innings of work.
Sophomore Mike Martin pitched three scoreless innings for Heuvelton, striking out five.
Jordan Macaulay had two hits for the Bulldogs, who scored seven times in the third inning to earn the victory.
Oppenheim-Ephratah/St. Johnsville is ranked 12th in Class D in the latest New York State Sportswriters Association rankings, while Heuvelton is ranked fourth.
OESJ expects plenty of fans to make the short trek to Amsterdam for the game.
“We’re expecting a large amount of people to be at the game. The entire village has really embraced us,” Lynch said. “We’re looking forward to having a short bus ride as well.”
Today’s winner will face Section VII champion Lake Placid (5-8 overall) Saturday. If Oppenheim-Ephratah/St. Johnsville wins, the game will take place at East Field in Glens Falls at 2 p.m.
“We’re going to go out and play our game,” Lynch said. “We’ve been taking it one step and one game at a time.”