When the high school baseball season began on March 21, there were 168 Class AAA teams competing in Pennsylvania.

When the season closed on June 14, West York's players were the ones wearing the Class AAA championship medals.

Finishing ahead of 167 other teams to win a state title is a tremendous accomplishment.

To do it two straight years is an extremely rare feat.

West York's baseball team defied the overwhelming odds by winning back-to-back state championships.

The Bulldogs became just the sixth team since the PIAA began sponsoring baseball championships in 1977, to win titles in consecutive years.

Riverside, of District 7, did it twice, winning in 2005-06 and 2011-12. The other schools to achieve the feat were: West Perry (1979-80), Oley Valley (1984-85), Moon (2001-02), Christopher Dock (2005-06) and Camp Hill (2008-09).

The West York community, as it did last year, will honor the champions with a parade on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. The parade will begin and end at the high school on Bannister Street.

The 2013 Bulldogs began the season with five returning starters from the previous season.

However, the team's top pitcher (Kaden Hepler), leading hitter and outstanding center fielder (Jerrin Toomey) and two other key players, shortstop Brock Gladfelter and catcher Jesse Bortner, graduated in 2012.

West York certainly had the nucleus for another fine season, but a second state title appeared to be quite a reach.

When the team checked in with a so-so 9-7 record just past the halfway point of the season, the Bulldogs didn't appear to be a team that would travel to State College in June.

Beginning with the 17th game, though, West York was a different team.

Pitcher/first baseman Brandon Kinneman said "something just clicked" when the Bulldogs, who stayed down when they got down in the early part of the season, suddenly refused to believe they could lose.

They won 12 of their final 13 games, culminating with a 2-1 victory over Upper Moreland in the state final.

The Bulldogs consistently found a way to win games, receiving contributions from the expected (returning starters) and the unexpected (players who saw little or no action the previous season).

The Bulldogs bought into head coach Roger Czerwinski's "seize the opportunity" mantra by delivering clutch hits, pitches and plays in the field.

Beginning with the District 3 third-place game and continuing through the state semifinal, West York won four straight games in their final at bat.

The team that took on Upper Moreland featured just two seniors, Kinneman and Brandon Rauhauser, in the starting lineup.

The other eight starters (counting the designated hitter slot) -- Brandon Wetzel, Logan Stover, Cole Bixler, Brett Kinneman, Carson Fries, Nick Traettino, Andrew Copeland and Chase James -- will all be back next season.

Along with Brandon Kinneman, pitcher Joe Prego, who won eight games and lost just two, graduated.

Replacing your two leading pitchers is a huge challenge, but if the 2014 Bulldogs can do that, they could be a serious contender for an unprecedented third straight state championship.

Reach Dick VanOlinda at dvanolinda@yorkdis patch.com.