STATE COLLEGE - West York turned a lofty goal into reality on an unforgettable night at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.
The Bulldogs, who began the season determined to win a state championship, accomplished their mission with a 9-6 victory over Lampeter-Strasburg.
West York bashed 11 hits to support the pitching of star Kaden Hepler to close with a sparkling 24-4 record.
"The bats came through," said West York senior Brock Gladfelter who contriubuted a double and a single to the cause. "We had faith in everything we set out to do. We won our division, won the league title, came up short in districts, but then we said our next goal is to win the state title.
West York's Brock Gladfelter carries the Class AAA state title trophy past fans after the Bulldogs beat Lampeter-Strasburg 9-6. (Bil Bowden) MORE PHOTOS
West York jumped on top of its Lancaster County opponent by scoring five runs in the second inning.
Jesse Bortner, Cole Bixler, Brandon Rauhauser and Brandon Kinneman all had hits in the innning with
Kinneman's double, a hard shot off the third baseman's glove driving in two runs.
"It seems like every time I step on the mound they score runs for me," Hepler said. "We just wanted to be
remembered (as a team). We wanted to make our mark."
Lampeter-Strasburg did close to 5-4, but the Pioneers were never able to tie or gain the lead.
Hepler allowed just four hits. The senior right-hander struck out eight, walked seven and threw 149 pitches. Hepler, who pitched in all four state game, gave up only two runs in the first three games to put the
Bulldogs in position to win their first-ever state baseball title.
"Kaden was the right man for the job," West York head coach Roger Czerwinski said. "He has the ability to shut down the best of the best. They're (Lampeter-Strasburg) the No. 2 team in the state. Their hitters one through nine can hit the ball.
So can West York's hitters. The Bulldogs' season featured outstanding pitching, offensive contributions from everyone in the lineup and excellent defense.
The final game was no exception. Seven of the nine starters had at least one hit, and the defense was
"Even when someone is struggling offensively, he'll make a play in the field," said Bulldogs' center fielder Jerrin Toomey who made a sensational running catch in the first inning to rob Ray Lopez of an extra-base hit.
Toomey also had a triple and a bunt single. Following his triple in the fourth inning, he scored on
Kinneman's infield hit.
"We wanted to come with the bats," Toomey said. "It feels great to win the title. There is no better feeling.
This is as big as it gets.
After the single run in the fourth inning, West York put up three runs in the sixth inning to build a 9-4
Lampeter-Strasburg rallied with two runs in the seventh, but when Kinneman, the Bulldogs' first baseman, squeezed Peter Darrenkamp's popup in foul ground, the Bulldogs had gained the top prize in the state.
"When the game ended, the West York players, as their custom, gathered with their coaches in the outfield.
Following the meeting, the players and coaches walked for the final time this season to greet their fans who had gathered along the railing near the third-base dugout.
"I want to thank our fans," Toomey said. "People have been driving three hours to see us play. This title sums up my career, football, basketball and baseball."