ONEONTA _ Edmeston's Jordan Williams seemed to have fire coming out of his eyes Tuesday against Hunter-Tannersville.
Turns out it was just a pair of contact lenses.
That didn't seem to matter much for H-T, which had problems catching up with Williams much of the day as the junior struck out 13 and walked two in a six-hitter to lead the second-seeded Panthers to a 7-2 victory in a Section Four Class D semifinal at Oneonta High.
Edmeston (19-2) will meet No. 12 Hancock (8-11) in the Section Four championship at 4:30 p.m. Thursday at Damaschke Field. It's the fifth straight year the Panthers will play for the sectional title. Edmeston, which fell, 12-5, to Odessa-Montour last season, is seeking its first sectional crown since its state-championship season in 2005.
Hancock beat top-seeded Deposit, 2-1, in Tuesday's other sectional semifinal.
"It's exciting," Williams said of reaching the sectional final. "Really, we didn't think about it until that last pitch when I threw that strike and it just hits you that it's a reality we're going to the championship again. We want to bring the bacon home."
Williams' orange contact lenses are a new addition this season, following an early-season hitting slump that left him searching for answers. So, mother knows best, it seems.
"I didn't think I had an eye problem at all," said Williams, who improved to 6-1. "Then my mom was like, Go and get this.' And then, Mom's right. You have to always listen to her."
Since getting the contacts, Williams has been showing himself to be the Williams of old. Besides a dominant pitching performance against H-T, he also had two hits, including a two-run home run in the fifth inning.
"I noticed that his fastball seemed to be slowing down a little bit there in the mid to late innings, then all of a sudden when he needed it, he reached back for a little extra and he popped the mitt harder," H-T coach Jeff Friedman said. "He's a good pitcher. He stays around the plate and keeps the ball down for the most part and his fastball is alive. We just didn't read it well."
Williams' only real jam in his 123-pitch performance Tuesday came in the first inning.
Leadoff hitter Robby Huetter reached when Edmeston third baseman Jake Baulch couldn't handle a hard bunt. Ryan Martin then bunted back to Williams, who spun and threw to shortstop Nick Davoulas at second. Davoulas came off the base and both runners were safe.
Williams then got losing pitcher Greg Mudge to fly out to right field, moving Huetter to third. After Martin stole second, Donald Pesciotta struck out looking. Ryan Megnin walked to load the bases, but Derek Legg struck out looking to end the threat.
The third-seeded Wildcats (14-4) got five runners to second base the rest of the game.
"They got every hit that they needed tonight and we just couldn't get that one hit when we needed it," Friedman said. "The key inning for me was when we had first and second and nobody out and we couldn't (get them in). We had a lot of opportunities we didn't capitalize on."
Edmeston's biggest break might have come in the bottom of the third.
Leading, 2-1, Davoulas (2-for-3) led off with a double to left. Matt Laymon then struck out looking and Anthony Wolcott flew out to left. Mudge then threw a high knuckleball to Alex Stevens (3-for-3), who lifted a lazy fly ball toward center fielder Josh Megnin. He didn't seem to get a good read on the ball, though, and ended up letting it drop in for a hit.
"He got fooled," Friedman said. "I talked to Josh about it. The kid took a big swing and got it off the end of the bat and he just misread it completely. By the time he realized it, it was too late."
Davoulas scored on the play to make it 3-1. Catcher Legg then attempted to pick Stevens off first, but his throw hit the dirt in front of first baseman Ryan Megnin and the ball bounced into right field. Stevens went to third on the error and scored when Williams hit a sharp liner through the left side.
"When you think there's a legitimate chance of a third out being made, it's always big when you can get extra outs and extend the inning," Edmeston coach Mike Clark said. "It looked like a ball that was up there forever. It let us stay alive and get a run or two after that. It was definitely a huge inning."
H-T made it 4-2 in the top of the third, when Zach Davis scored on Huetter's fielder's choice. The Wildcats failed to get any closer off Williams, who struck out four in the fifth inning, one in the sixth and two in the seventh.
He got the extra strikeout in the fourth because Stevens couldn't handle the third strike on Ryan Megnin to start the inning.
"He had a couple of balls which were moving all over, which is good," Stevens said. "He had good movement and he worked his way through and came back when he needed through. ... He pitches where it goes and I have to adjust and sometimes I don't adjust like I have to."
The Panthers pulled away in the fifth when Williams drove a 2-1 pitch over the left-field fence, a two-run homer estimated at 330 feet.
"It was kind of like a fastball or slider," Williams said. "It could have been a slow curve that hung and he made a mistake throwing it. But I saw it and it looked good and it was just right about the knees and I took a swing at it."
The Panthers closed the scoring in the sixth, when Farrell Ruffles reached on a fielding error by shortstop Pesciotta, took second on a wild pitch by Mudge and advanced two bases on passed balls.
Mudge (8-2), who pitched seven innings in a 4-3 victory over Roxbury on Saturday, struck out four and walked two in a 98-pitch afternoon.
"My hat goes off to the Mudge kid," Clark said. "What a gutty performance. He just pitched seven innings on Saturday and to come out and pitch a complete game today. You could tell he was tired. He wasn't taking many warmup pitches and using his curveball a lot."
Edmeston 7, H-T 2
SECTION FOUR CLASS D
Semifinal at Oneonta High
3-H-T001 100 0 _ 2 6 4
2-Edmeston2002 021 x _ 7 11 3
Greg Mudge (L,8-2) and Derek Legg. Jordan Williams (W,6-1) and Alex Stevens. 2B _ Ryan Megnin (H), Nick Davoulas (E), Alex Stevens (E). HR _ Jordan Williams (E).
P.J. Harmer can be reached at email@example.com or 607-432.1000, ext. 229.