In 2012, both Fort Ann and Pine Valley reached the Class D New York State Public High School Athletic Association Final Four in Binghamton.
And both teams lost the semifinal game.
This time around, one team will advance to the championship game as they square off today at 1 p.m. at Conlon Field in Binghamton.
Pictured are the 2013 Pine Valley Panthers, the Section 6 Class D champions. Pine Valley plays in the New York State?Public High School Athletic Association Final Four in Binghamton today against top ranked Fort Ann.
Fort Ann, the 2011 state champions, are ranked No. 1 in the state with a 20-2 record.
"They have explosive hitters," Pine Valley coach Chris Buczek said. "Both pitchers they have are crafty at what they do. They are ranked first in the state and deservingly so. We basically expect hard throwing pitching and pretty good at bats."
The Panthers, the fourth ranked team in the state, have embraced the role of underdog.
"There are probably a group of 20 people who believe Pine Valley is going to win," Buczek said. "The majority of baseball followers have already given the nod to Fort Ann. A lot of people are probably overlooking us. To go in relaxed because we aren't supposed to win is to our benefit. We talked and just stressed it's the same kind of baseball. All the measurements are the same. "It's still the same game we fell in love with as little kids. It's a larger setting, but it's still baseball. If we stay confident and excited, we will be successful."
Pine Valley is hoping for a better showing this year than last year as it fell 1-0 to Oriskany on a wild pitch. Lucas Trombley, a member of this year's team, had the only two hits for the Panthers in that game.
With this being the second time in as many years for the Panthers playing on this stage, Buczek is hoping the players will embrace the moment and all the festivities won't be as much of a blur as it was last year.
"When you go to states, it's such a feat," he said. "You leave school and have a long bus trip. You stay in a hotel. You get to practice at another school. We have a picnic and get recognized in front of all the other teams. It puts you on a pedestal. The first time you do anything, it seems to happen so fast and you're in awe of everything. Except for the sophomores, everyone was at least there last year. The expectation as far as hotel room and picnic and all that, I think it's not going to be so much of a blur. It's not going to be an eye opener. It's going to be exciting. I just think that it's something they have experienced already. They take that more in stride and know what to expect. You embrace it more than being awe struck."
Pine Valley also had the advantage of playing in Division 3 during the regular season. It played teams such as Westfield, Maple Grove and Panama before dropping down to Class D for the playoffs.
"I think our division is arguably the hardest," Buczek said. "I think our division has really helped us out throughout this run."
Buczek also concluded that this year's run to Binghamton is just as meaningful as last season.
"I am so proud of these guys," he said. "They have taken ownership of this season. A lot of what's been going on is there will and passion and their doing. To be 100 percent honest, it means as much this time as it did last time. People take the states as a measuring stick to how successful your season is. I think it's a lot to ask for from the kids. To get to this point is just as magical as the first time. It's just as special and just as meaningful."