MANCHESTER — When the final out of the unforgettable, extra-innings game was finally recorded, Northeastern's baseball players made their way to the outfield to meet with their coaches.
This meeting was different from all of the other ones this season because it was the final post-game get-together for the team's 11 seniors.
The Bobcats' season came to an end in the opening round of the District 3-AAA playoffs with a 6-3, nine-inning loss to Hamburg.
The setback was definitely disappointing for the York County team, which was seeded third in the tournament and playing on its home field, but Northeastern's players could take some consolation in the way they staved off defeat in both the seventh and eighth innings..
The Bobcats trailed 2-0 in the seventh and 3-2, in the eighth, and were down to their last strike in both innings, but rallied to tie the game each time.
However, Hamburg kept the pressure on and put up three more runs in the ninth. This time, Northeastern wasn't able to answer.
The Bobcats got two runners on in the ninth with one out, but Hamburg relief pitcher Ryan Smith retired the next two batters to end the game.
"That's a very quality ball club that we beat," Hamburg head coach Nick Evangelista said. "This is a big win for us. They (the Bobcats) probably had us outnumbered in fans, 1,000 to 10."
Smith, along with being the winning pitcher, collected three hits, and Nick Kuhn drove in three runs for the winners.
Kody Reeser and Brady Dolan had two hits apiece for Northeastern, and Reeser drove in two runs.
Reeser came close to winning the game in the seventh when he drove a ball high off the fence in left field to score Jonah Latshaw and Alex Raymond with the tying runs.
"It (the ball) was a couple of feet from going over," Reeser said. "A 3-2 pitch, with two outs, it's the scenario you dream about. Our sophomore year, we had a lightning delay (in a District 3) game against Middletown. That was our craziest game before this one."
Reeser, who pitched the first 7 1/3 innings while throwing 130 pitches, was proud of the way his teammates responded to adversity in the seventh and eighth innings.
"The way we battled speaks volumes about this team," he said. "It's unfortunate the way it had to end, but we'll have our memories to talk about. We won our division. We were tight on and off the field, and we'll stay in touch."
The Bobcats were a mediocre 3-3 at one point this season, but won 13 of their final 16 games to finish 16-6.
Northeastern head coach Andy Srebroski said his players showed growth and improvement and were positive the whole way through the season.
"Our guys did an outstanding job of fighting today," Srebroski said. "Sometimes, all you can do is tip your cap (to the other team) and swallow the pill."
Srebroski thought that Reeser's seventh-inning blast had a chance to be a game winner.
"I thought it might have been enough. I must not have made him work hard enough in the off-season," he said with a smile..
Reach Dick VanO'Linda at firstname.lastname@example.org.