MacArthur's Adam Heidenfelder wins second Diamond Award

MacArthur's Adam Heidenfelder poses for a portrait at MacArthur's Adam Heidenfelder poses for a portrait at Bethpage Ballpark in Central Islip Saturday, March 15, 2014. Photo Credit: Barry Sloan

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For MacArthur, Adam Heidenfelder represented certainty in a game that guarantees anything but.

He would take the mound every Monday -- a monolith of a righty, standing a legitimate 6-4 -- and no matter the opponent or the circumstance, coach Steve Costello believed: "Every Monday, we were getting a really, really well-pitched game.''

Costello knows to hedge a little there, because baseball can be fickle. But the truth is, even more than a well-pitched game, MacArthur knew that when Heidenfelder was on the mound, it was going to have an excellent chance to beat anyone and, if precedent was to be believed, probably would.

MacArthur baseball has known all that for more than two years running.

This year, Heidenfelder, a senior committed to Hofstra, went 6-1 and struck out 95 in 50-plus innings. He allowed three earned runs all season. The final numbers: a 0.42 ERA, a 0.80 WHIP and a .141 batting average against. In his only loss, he allowed no earned runs. He won the Diamond Award last year as the best pitcher in Nassau County. On Wednesday night, at the Nassau baseball dinner at the Uniondale Marriott, Heidenfelder repeated the feat.

It's the seventh time the Generals have taken the pitching award, and it's the first repeat winner since Island Trees' Bryan Verbitsky did it with the position player award in 2010.

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"It's great,'' Costello said. "It's cool because we have a very strong philosophy and kids are buying into the program.''

Costello, also the pitching coach, hails from the Doug Robins school of coaching. Robins, the Division legend who died in 2005, preached the value of undercoaching, Costello said, something that jibed with Heidenfelder's raw power and ability.

"Our philosophy has been to just be aggressive, physical, violent in our delivery,'' Costello said. "Most pitching coaches are terrified of that . . . In an in-game situation, I don't even let the coaches use the word 'mechanics.'

"We've put in all that work, so on game day, I don't want to hear about arm angle. I want them to throw the heck out of the ball.''

Heidenfelder did just that. He hit 94 mph at least once a game, Costello said. And, true to Costello's method, Heidenfelder did all the prep work, too.

"I had a great season [last year],'' Heidenfelder said at the beginning of the year. "And I'm confident in every pitch, but they get away sometimes. I want to be consistent, find my arm slot, make adjustments when I have to. I've been working a lot over the winter.

"I'm finishing more, making sure my arm is up. The big emphasis is on lengthening my stride.''

When batters finally had to face the result of all that hard work and innate talent, it was something akin to sitting atop the Tower of Terror before a big drop. It was a challenge, an adrenaline rush, and something most people wanted to take a shot at, Costello said.

"A lot of them would go against him with a great approach,'' he said. "They would really try to start early on the fastball . . . and they really did compete.''

But?

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"But for the most part, they were overmatched,'' Costello said. "And it would be 14 strikeouts and three hits allowed.''

While hitters tried to solve him, Heidenfelder continued to improve. He hit 93 mph once or twice last year, he said, but obliterated that this spring.

Although Costello said he can't quite pick one of his past pitchers over any other -- "It's like picking your favorite child'' -- he did say there was one very special thing about Heidenfelder.

"We've had every kind of pitcher you can imagine at MacArthur,'' Costello said. "But of all of them, I think he has the chance to go the furthest down the road because he's so big and so strong. He's enormous and he throws the hardest.''

This year, that meant everything to an inexperienced Generals team.

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"Our goal was to win every series,'' Costello said, "and with Adam on the mound, we knew Monday was ours.''

Now, for the second time and in his final varsity year, the Diamond Award is his.

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