He wanted to win. He would have liked to go out on top, too. But sometimes things don't as planned. Andy Etchebarren knows that. And at least a part of what makes his retirement a little bit more easier to take is the team he lost to.
Etchebarren's York Revolution squad saw its 2012 season come to an end Saturday night, ending York's bid at a third-straight Atlantic League title. The visiting Lancaster Barnstormers made sure of that by capping off the Atlantic League Freedom Division Series with a 12-8 Game Three victory over the Revs to sweep York in the best-of-five series.
"It makes it easier that we lost to a better team," Etchebarren said. "I can walk away and say they out-played us and they were a better team than we were in this short series."
York slugger Chris Nowak went down swinging for the Revs' final out of the season. Etchebarren then stepped out from the dugout and proceeded to shake hands with fans in the front row at Sovereign Bank Stadium. What was left of the Revs' playoff-record crowd of 6,437 fans gave him a standing ovation. He got a hug and a kiss from one of his biggest fans, Bella, a young girl who sits in the front row at home games and sometimes delivers what Etchebarren calls "good luck" pictures she colored just for him.
Etchebarren then shook hands with Barnstormers' CEO Jon Danos, some Lancaster players and Lancaster manager and his longtime friend Butch Hobson. Finally, he gave a wave to the fans as he walked off the field in a baseball uniform for the last time in his 51-year baseball career.
"It's been wonderful," Etchebarren said of his time in York. "I met a lot of good friends. Am I sad? I'm sad that we lost. But they (Lancaster) outplayed us. Am I sad that's the last time I'm taking off my uniform? No. I'm not. It's time. I know it's time."
Game: The Barnstormers (3-0) will now move on to the Atlantic League Championship Series, where they'll face the winner of Long Island-Southern Maryland from the Liberty Division series. Lancaster is aiming for the club's second league title, having last won it in 2006.
Entering the game 3-for-25 in the series with runners in scoring position, York's offense had no problem getting runners across the plate in the first three innings Saturday. The Revs (0-3) took a 4-1 lead with a pair of runs in the first and a run each in the second and third innings on a total of seven hits.
Like they had done in the first two games of the series, however, the Barnstormers used big innings from its offense to take the momentum back. Down three runs heading into the fourth inning, Lancaster scored four in the fourth and three in the fifth to take an 8-4 advantage.
But the Revs didn't go away, scoring three runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to draw to within 8-7. All seven of those runs came off of Lancaster starter J.D. Durbin (1-0), who picked up the win despite surrendering 10 hits in five innings of work.
The Barnstormers took the air out of the stadium with four runs in the top of the sixth, capped off by an opposite-field three-run homer to right from Tommy Everidge off of Revs' reliever Kris Regas.
Revs' starter Chris Cody (0-1) took the loss, tagged with five runs (four earned) on seven hits in 3 2/3 innings. Relievers Adam Thomas, Stephen Penney and Regas combined to allow seven runs.
York also committed four errors in the contest, which gave them a total of six in the series.
"We had double-digit hits for almost every game," York centerfielder Scott Grimes said. "We got eight runs tonight. I think we swung the bats as well as we could. We just had some balls fall here and fall there that weren't going our way. That's the game of baseball."
Grimes admitted it's going to take him a little bit of time to get over this season. Still, he's appreciative of being able to learn from a baseball vet like Etchebarren.
"You can talk to him about anything," Grimes said. "The past three years he's been like a father to me."
Game notes: Former Revs' third baseman and last year's Atlantic League Championship Series MVP Vince Harrison received his 2011 championship ring during a pre-game ceremony on the field Saturday...Shawn Hill became the first former Revs' pitcher to return to the majors and pick up a win after pitching for York. Hill made his return to the big leagues Saturday with the Toronto Blue Jays and pitched three scoreless innings in relief against the New York Yankees to get his first major league win since 2010. Hill started off the year pitching for the Revs before getting picked up by the Blue Jays in June.
Check out the news and notes from the Freedom Division series on The York Dispatch Revolution Rumblings blog at www.ydtalk.com/revs.
Reach John Walk at email@example.com.