McSHERRYSTOWN -- When the final Delone Catholic hitter in the York-Adams League Baseball Tournament championship game went down on strikes, West York's players sprinted to an area near the mound and piled on top of each other.
The team's star pitcher, Kaden Hepler, found himself on the bottom of the 'Dog pile.
"(West York catcher) Jesse (Bortner) said to me, 'when we get the last three outs, I'm coming out and tackling you,'" Hepler said following the Bulldogs' 4-0 victory. "I tried to stay up as long as I could, but when four or five guys got on top of me, I just gave up."
Bortner, Kepler and their teammates celebrated a title which they set as a goal long before the season began in late March.
"It feels like Christmas morning," Hepler said. "All the hard work we put in ... we've been working out since last fall, into the winter and spring."
Hepler, who will play NCAA Division I college baseball on scholarship next year at Winthrop (S.C.) College, turned in another stellar performance in his brilliant career.
Relying primarily on his fastball, the 6-foot, 2-inch right-hander struck out 11 and walked four. He finished with a flourish, striking out the side in the seventh.
Hepler's start, by contrast, was a struggle.
Delone used Brett Smith's single and two walks to load the bases with no outs.
With the Squires seemingly on the verge of taking the lead, Hepler bore down and retired the next three hitters to escape unscathed.
"I struggled a little bit out there, but that's what teammates are for," Hepler said. "They hit a ground ball to (third baseman) Carson (Fries), and he made a good play at home. The other kid bunted one back to me (which resulted in another forceout at home), and then we got a strikeout."
West York coach Roger Czerwinski felt preventing Delone from scoring in the first was crucial to the final outcome.
"That kind of sparked us a little bit," said Czerwinski, who received a dousing (by his players) with the contents of a water cooler. "Early on, Kaden said this was the biggest mound he had thrown off all year. There were some adjustments he made."
Czerwinski said Hepler gets stronger as the game goes on, and that was certainly the case in the biggest contest of the season.
"This is the first game we've gone over 120 pitchers," the coach said. "He's a bulldog, and he wants the ball."
Hepler faced only one more serious threat the rest of the way, and he picked off a runner to foil that Squires' opportunity.
While Hepler kept the Squires' offense in check, his long-time friend and teammate, Jerrin Toomey, sparked West York with his bat and speed on the basepaths.
The Bulldogs' leadoff hitter, collected three hits in four at bats, scored a run, drove in a run and stole five bases.
"I might have had four (stolen bases) one time, but five might be the record," Toomey said. "I look to get a good jump, get the wheels rolling and slide in."
Earlier this season, Toomey went through a rough patch at the plate.
"This game is more mental than physical," he said. "Three weeks ago, I was struggling at the plate and got mentally down. We had a Friday game, and I went 0 for 4. I took the weekend off and didn't touch a bat. I came back Monday, picked up the bat, and it was like a brand new season."
Hepler said that Toomey's steals gave the team momentum.
"If he doesn't steal a base, maybe he doesn't score a run," Hepler said. "He's quick, and I don't know of anyone who can throw him out. He was thrown out once this year, and I think it was a fluke call."
The Hepler-to-Toomey passing connection helped the Bulldogs' football team win 10 games in the fall and earn a share of the York-Adams Division II title.
The two combined on Wednesday to help capture a baseball title.
"It's pretty special saying you're the No. 1 team in the county your senior year," Toomey said.
Toomey had a hand in West York's first run when the Bulldogs broke a scoreless tie in the third inning.
Brock Gladfelter opened the inning by drawing a walk, and following Toomey's single, Brandon Rauhauser laid down a perfect bunt with the ball coming to rest on the chalk line between home plate and first base.
Brandon Kinneman then drove in Gladfelter with a sacrifice fly to center field.
Toomey singled Brett Kinneman home in the fifth, and Fries delivered two runs in the seventh with a single.
Smith had two of the three hits for Delone, which came in riding a 14-game winning streak. The Squires will enter the District 3-AA playoffs with a 17-5 mark.
West York will carry an 18-3 record into the District 3-AAA playoffs.
Reach Dick VanOlinda at dvanolinda@yorkdis patch.com or 505-5407.