As Luke Hagy walked off the field in the final inning of Mt. Lebanon's 6-3 loss to Altoona in the PIAA quarterfinals last Thursday, he said it didn't hit him right away that it was the last time he would ever wear a Blue Devils uniform.
Hagy, also the school's all-time leading rusher in football and a four-year starting point guard in basketball, said it didn't hit him until the ride home that his illustrious Mt. Lebanon athletic career had actually come to an end.
"On the bus ride home, you're just sitting there thinking about a lot of stuff and that definitely came across my mind," he said. "I mean, it's sad to think that it's over already because it seems like just yesterday I was playing basketball for the first time or taking my first carry or making my first catch in baseball."
Hagy did all he could, going 1-for-2 with a run scored in the Blue Devils' loss to Altoona, but Mt. Lebanon's season came to an end last week.
Still, Hagy considered this baseball season a good way to end his career. After two consecutive years of missing the playoffs, Mt. Lebanon advanced all the way to the WPIAL championship game, coming up just short in a 5-3 loss to Seneca Valley in the title game.
"It's a good way to go out, with all my friends," Hagy said. "We've been playing together since we were in sixth grade, and that's what we've been talking about since then, is playing in a WPIAL championship [game] and we finally got a chance to do that together."
After the loss to Altoona, Mt. Lebanon coach Patt McCloskey got visibly emotional when talking about his 12 seniors.
"It's really hard to talk about right now," he said. "It's really personal. I'm going to miss them a lot. They mean a lot to me, and it's going to be hard to move on."
The Blue Devils (15-10, 8-4) didn't blow anybody away in section play this year. In fact, the team had just one three-game winning streak in the middle of the season.
They sneaked into the Class AAAA playoffs as the third team out of Section 3, though, and turned up their game in the postseason. Facing previously unbeaten Norwin in the WPIAL quarterfinals, Hagy opened the game with a leadoff homer and the Blue Devils took down the top-seeded Knights, 5-3.
They gutted out a 3-2 win against North Allegheny in the semifinals before ultimately falling in the title game.
"I think coming into the season, I think we all knew that the last few years we should have made the playoffs, made runs," Hagy said. "I think we just wanted to prove to everybody that we were capable of doing that and we were a lot better than we had been the last two years."
As far as the postseason success, Hagy said there's no substitute for experience.
"Having 12 seniors really helped us," he said. "We all came together and we played together. We played as a team and as a family."
Now, McCloskey will face the unenviable task of replacing those graduating seniors. After winning the 2006 WPIAL title, the Blue Devils had to replace 13 graduating seniors. The program faced some tough times after that, making just one WPIAL playoff appearance until this year's run.
Sophomore pitcher Zack Bahm, who pitched for Mt. Lebanon in the WPIAL semifinals and championship this year, will return, but virtually the entire starting lineup will be replaced.
"That's the job coaching," McCloskey said. "We've got a new team coming in next year, but it's hard."
Sam Werner: email@example.com or on Twitter @SWernerPG First Published June 14, 2012 12:00 AM