FORT PLAIN - With just one senior on its roster, the Fort Plain baseball team came into the season with few expectations.
However, the Hilltoppers went 14-2 in the regular season and earned the third seed for the Section II Class C Tournament.
The way Fort Plain's season came to an end was as unexpected as Fort Plain's success was this season.
Maple Hill’s Jeremy Morris, right, dives back to first as Fort Plain first baseman Eric Orologio awaits the throw during Thursday’s Section II Class C quarterfinal game at Phillips Field in Fort Plain. (The Leader-Herald/Paul Wager)
In a briskly played game that was over in 90 minutes, Tommy Miller pitched a one-hitter to lead sixth-seeded Maple Hill to a 2-0 win over the Hilltoppers at Phillips Field.
"I'm very proud of all these kids. We didn't expect much this year with so many young kids on the team, but we accomplished a lot. We had a heck of a season," Fort Plain coach Craig Phillips said. "We've only got one senior on our roster, so we've got a lot coming back. We've got to work to get bigger and stronger for next year."
Miller struck out 12, walked two and allowed just one hit to earn the complete-game win to improve to 9-2 on the season for the Wildcats.
"He's been tremendous. In my opinion, he's one of the best in the area," Maple Hill coach Rico Frese said of Miller. "He attacks the strike zone."
Miller kept the Hilltoppers in check all afternoon, allowing just three Fort Plain batters to reach base.
"[Maple Hill] had a good pitcher," Phillips said. "We like to bunt and run, but we never really had an opportunity to do that today. Good pitching always beats good hitting."
Fort Plain also got a solid effort on the mound from sophomore lefthander Jesse Heroth.
"I give their pitcher a lot of credit," coach Frese said. "He battled all day. I was very impressed."
Heroth, who went 8-2 on the season, struck out nine, walked two and allowed seven hits.
"Their guy was good, but mine was good as well," Phillips said of Heroth's effort.
Heroth and Miller each had no-hitters going through three innings before the Wildcats, who were coming off a 6-0 win over 11th-seeded Hadley-Luzerne in Tuesday's first round, broke through in the fourth.
"By having a game the other day, and playing well, I think it helped us feel good about ourselves coming into this game," coach Frese said.
Garrett Renslow notched the game's first hit, a one-out single to left field, before Jeremy Morris came on to run.
Heroth struck out Zach Frese for the inning's second out before Tyler Hall and Alex Yager had back-to-back singles to lead the bases. Alex Konig plated what would be the game's only runs with a single to left field, scoring Morris and Hall to make it 2-0.
After scoreless fourth and fifth innings, Maple Hill threatened again in the top of the sixth, getting back-to-back, one-out singles from Zach Frese and Hall. Heroth worked his way out of the jam, getting a flyout and strikeout to end the inning. Hall was the only Wildcat with more than one hit as six different players finished with a hit for Maple Hill.
Fort Plain got its lone hit in the bottom of the sixth when Drew Fureno beat out a two-out infield single.
In the Hilltoppers' final at-bat, James May drew a two-out walk to become just the third baserunner for Fort Plain. Miller got Tyler Marsh to ground to Hall at shortstop and he beat May to second to end the game.
Maple Hill (13-6 overall) will face either No. 2 seed Whitehall or No. 7 seed Galway on Saturday at Shuttleworth Park in Amsterdam.
"In sectionals, you've got to win to move on, so it doesn't matter who we play," coach Frese said. "We're expecting whoever we play to be a good team."
Fort Plain finished its season at 14-3 overall.
Maple Hill 2, Fort Plain 0
Maple Hill000 200 0 - 2 7 0
Fort Plain000 000 0 - 0 1 2
Miller and Butler; Heroth and Fureno.