DILLSBURG — When the final out of the game was recorded on Tuesday, York Catholic's players gathered up their stuff and walked out of the dugout for the last time this season.
The Fighting Irish were bidding for a spot in the District 3-AA baseball championship game and a berth in the state playoffs.
The Irish, however, were denied, most emphatically, by Upper Dauphin.
The Trojans pounded out 17 hits to hand York Catholic a 12-5 defeat in a AA semifinal game on the Northern York High School field.
The loss stung, but the Irish players will, in the end, focus on what they were able to accomplish in 2015, rather than on the season-ending loss.
"I couldn't be more proud of the guys," York Catholic head coach Joe Gurreri said. "We probably would have been happy with a .500 season, losing everyone but one senior."
Instead, the Irish produced a 12-7 season and won a District 3 playoff game (against Delone Catholic) with a starting lineup that sometimes featured a total of six freshmen and sophomores.
"We started in the gym early, and they (the players) really dedicated themselves to the game," Gurreri said. "When you think an infield of sophomores and freshmen can do what they did, it was fun. I would have loved to advance further, but I'm happy with what these guys did."
Instead, Upper Dauphin continued its impressive run through the AA bracket.
The Trojans, seeded eighth, opened tournament play with a 4-3 victory over No. 9 seed Annville-Cleona. Upper Dauphin then stunned No. 1 seed Lancaster Catholic, 4-0, before eliminating No. 5 seed York Catholic. The Trojans, a team made up of seven seniors and nine juniors, started off hot this season, winning eight of their first 10, before hitting a six-game losing skid. They recovered by winning six of their last seven games.
"We came through so much adversity this year," Upper Dauphin head coach Ryan Lentz said. "When the Tri-Valley League split into two divisions this year, we ended up scheduling nine non-league games to fill our schedule. Playing the competition we faced got to us to where we are now."
The Trojans reached the district final by combining a relentless offense with the pitching of Aaron Cleveland. Cleveland, who departed with two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning, struck out 10 and walked four. Just one of the runs the right-hander allowed was earned.
Cleveland's teammates supported him by scoring five runs in the first three innings before blowing the game open by scoring six runs in the top of the sixth. Casey Wise, Cleveland and Travis Dietrich combined for 10 of the winners' hits. C.J. Burnside had a two-run single for York Catholic, which was held to five hits.
"It didn't matter where we threw it, they (Upper Dauphin) hit it," Gurreri said. "They were waiting on the curve balls and turning on them as good as the fastballs. My hat's off to them. They won the game."
The game was the final high school one for York Catholic's Jake Krevetski, who earned a 2-1 victory over Delone Catholic in the district quarterfinals. Krevetski took the loss in Tuesday's game. During his four-year career, the Fighting Irish won a district title (Class A), finished second in districts (Class A) and qualified for states two years. Krevetski was the lone returning starter on this year's team that exceeded expectations.
"It was awesome what we were able to do," Krevetski said. "I think a lot of people didn't expect us to make it this far. I'm happy with the season."
Asked what he'll remember the most about his four seasons with the Irish, Krevetski said: "Playing with a bunch of great guys every single year."
— Reach Dick VanOlinda at firstname.lastname@example.org.