Remembering 2013: West York wins another state title
The dreaded off-season has arrived. But fear not, despite news being a little slower this time of year, we have plenty of content to keep you occupied here at BlogToBlogChamps. Each Monday, we’ll publish a feature from the 2013 York Revolutionary Times, the official game day magazine of the York Revolution for you to re-enjoy, or read for the first time in case you missed it at the ballpark. This week, we look back at the second straight state championship for West York High School Baseball in 2013, and York’s transformation into a “baseball town.”
By Paul Braverman
They chanted “breadsticks, breadsticks!” not for just one opposing batter in the lineup, but for any batter with two strikes. They would occasionally yell “hit the wall!” in unison with their team at bat. If that sounds typical, consider this:
The game was in University Park, PA, and the York Revolution were about 240 miles away in Southern Maryland.
“They” weren’t Don Kain and the Section 5 “Hit The Wall” Crew, but students and parents from West York High School. In 2010 and 2011 the York Revolution won back to back Atlantic League Championships, a feat now duplicated by West York with two straight Class AAA baseball titles under head coach Roger Czerwinski.
And for one late-spring afternoon, each piece of York County’s amateur and professional baseball prowess came together at Lubrano Park, the sparkling home of the New York-Penn League’s State College Spikes and the Penn State baseball program. With a nail-biting 2-1 win over Upper Moreland, West York took home their second straight AAA championship, and incredibly the fifth straight title in that classification for District 3 in Central Pennsylvania.
“I think it’s safe to say the high school baseball in this area is pretty strong,” says Czerwinski. “Keep in mind Spring Grove had a nice little run in the state tournament, Dallastown had an amazing run as well and they return a lot of their players next year. We do rely on that experience of league games and having good talent here to prepare ourselves for postseason play, absolutely.”
In a one and done state tournament format any state championship is especially impressive let alone two in a row, and expect the winning ways to continue for West York. The team will return seven starters next season – a team that has already learned how to handle prosperity and thrive under the pressure of being expected to win.
“We didn’t have a great start, at one point we were 9-7, and it looked a little bleak,” said Czerwinski. “Then we won 12 of our last 13 games. This year’s crew took it upon themselves to work harder than any team I’ve had, in the weight room, in the conditioning areas and fundamentally to make sure we were all set.”
Included in that run were numerous close games, as the team won its postseason opener in extra innings, the second round game 2-0, and the third 5-4 before winning the title again by a single run. The conditioning portion is certainly evident by looking at a West York stat sheet: The team stole an eye-popping 94 bases in 29 games, an average of 3.24 successful steals a game, turning each game into a track meet.
To have had so many close calls in a single-elimination format is a credit to Czerwinski keeping the team focused, as once the venues became larger, he reminded them it was the same game despite the grander settings.
“We play seven innings of baseball, whether we’re here at Sovereign Bank Stadium, Penn State or the Altoona Curve’s ballpark where we got to play last year. I think one of the neat things is the opportunity the Revs provide for high school teams to come in and play here (at Sovereign Bank Stadium). To say ‘this is our field, but it’s also your field’,” he said.
“We’ve played here at West York probably eight times in my five years as head coach. I think it’s great, I think the kids look forward to it. The first time or two I think it was nerve-wracking, it was a new experience and something they weren’t used to. I think the more the Revs reach out to high school kids and the community in general it creates a bond, so the Revolution’s presence here has certainly helped grow the game of baseball at all levels in York County, there’s no doubt about it,” Czerwinski continued.
That bond was on full display June 14 at Penn State. As the rumors came through Twitter and Facebook that West York fans were chanting “breadsticks!” vis a vis the Pizza Hut K-Man promotion at Revolution games, and “Hit The Wall!” during the state championship game, plenty of Revs staffers stopped in their tracks and were thrilled with the news.
As great as it is to have those traditions in our ballpark, once they go beyond being a York Revolution thing, and they simply become a York and York County thing, that’s when you’ve really got something.
“Two of our students started that, and it was every inning. As proud as you guys are, imagine being the coach in the dugout, sitting and listening to that, hearing 400 people behind you chanting that. Then you know it’s something special,” said Czerwinski.
When the Revolution brought professional baseball back to York after a 38-year absence in 2007, some were skeptical York would turn into a patented “baseball town.” While York County was home to Major Leaguers such as Butch Wynegar and Greg Gross, and more recently pitchers Mark Hendrickson and Cody Eppley, it seems to hang its hat more on being the home of NFL sack machine and now Hall-of-Famer Chris Doleman, current Green Bay Packers fullback John Kuhn and long-time NFL coach and now Arizona Cardinals Head Coach Bruce Arians.
But to hear Czerwinski tell it, the tide might be turning in the area, to becoming a “baseball town.”
“We’ve been very blessed with the community that backs us. Probably one of the neatest things about York County is when teams advance into postseason play, it doesn’t become about West York, it becomes about York County. And then when we go up to Penn State again it was about District 3. Everyone jumps on your back once you get moving and supports you. You’ve got to relay on others. Our scouting reports come from local coaches. Then it becomes a case where we’re not foes anymore, we’re helping each other, supporting each other.
That sense of unity has certainly shown through with the results on the field throughout the county. Between District 3’s amazing run and the Revolution’s two straight Atlantic League titles, that’s seven baseball championships for the area on the amateur and professional level since 2009.
Sounds like a baseball town to us.