ALTOONA - West York's baseball players are all serious, all the time, when they're between the lines.
The Bulldogs also like to shed their game faces and have some fun, however, when they're off the field.
Thursday's wacky weather in the State Class AAA playoff quarterfinal provided them with an opportunity.
The players turned a lengthy lightning delay into a concert after three electrical strikes forced them to the locker room at Mansion Park Stadium.
"People wanted to sing," Bulldogs' star pitcher Kaden Hepler said. "We were singing Back Street Boys, Temptations, and I'm not sure what all else. That's the kind of group we are. We can go and have fun when we need to, and when it's time to get serious, to get focused and play, we can do that."
The Bulldogs never lost sight of their goal during Thursday's game.
They advanced to Monday's semifinals with a 6-2 victory over District 7 runner-up Belle Vernon. West York (22-4) will take on District 7 champion Blackhawk (22-2) at a site and time to be determined. Blackhawk beat Thomas Jefferson in its quarterfinal on Thursday, 6-1.
"It's a big goal of ours to get to the state championship game, and hopefully win it," Hepler said. "We've been working really hard to get where we're at."
Hepler, who hasn't lost a game all year, improved his record to 12-0 with a another outstanding performance. The right-hander struck out 10, walked only two and allowed six hits, all of them singles. He threw 117 pitches.
"I felt really good today," Hepler said. "I said to (catcher) Jesse (Bortner), 'I feel pretty good today.' I actually felt better after the delay. I have no idea what it was. Maybe the adrenaline starting going a little bit more."
The lightning delay lasted 1 hour, 47 minutes, from 4:13 p.m. until 6 p.m.
The first shot hit with West York batting in the bottom of the first inning.
The Bulldogs ended up scoring three runs in the inning by combining singles by Jerrin Toomey, Brandon Kinneman, Bortner and Hepler with Brandon Rauhauser's sacrifice bunt.
West York added another run in the second inning on a walk, Brock Gladfelter's hit and an error.
The York-Adams League champions concluded their scoring in the fourth thanks to Toomey's clutch, two-out hit. With runners on first and second, Toomey drove a 1-0 pitch over the center fielder's head for a double to score both runners.
"I just wanted to see a fastball and hit something hard with two outs," Toomey said. "I wanted to make something happen and I got hold of it pretty good. We were looking to come back and get some more (runs), but their pitcher was tough."
Hepler, mixing his near 90 mph fastball with a slider and changeup, blanked Belle Vernon before the Leopards broke through for both of its runs in the sixth.
Rain fell in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings after the sun made a brief appearance in the fourth.
"It's started to get real slippery out there (on the mound)," Hepler said. "I felt they had to get the bag of the drying stuff out there. (Game officials applied a drying agent around the mound and plate.)."
Hepler helped his own cause with two hits. Toomey and Bortner also had two hits for the Bulldogs.
"It wasn't our typical offensive display, but that wasn't a 10-10 team we were playing today," West York head coach Roger Czerwinski said. "They came in at 19-5. We botched a few bunts, and we didn't do a lot of stealing, but their catcher (Dom Francia) had a gun."
The Bulldogs got the job done, though, and moved one game closer to playing in the state title contest next Friday at Penn State.
"We just have to keep the train rolling," Toomey said. "We have to keep playing our game."
_ Reach Dick VanOlinda at firstname.lastname@example.org.