The past two seasons ended the same way for the Deer Lakes High School baseball team -- with quarterfinal losses against Riverside in the WPIAL Class AA playoffs.
That meant the Lancers could only sit back and watch as the Vikings went on to capture back-to-back PIAA championships.
"When we lost that game to Riverside last year, we knew we had a good team because we were only two outs away from staying in that game," senior Adam Fredley said. "Coming into this season, we knew we would have the talent and believed if we worked hard enough we could compete again."
This season, Deer Lakes (17-3) made its way back to the semifinals for the first time since 1994. The Lancers beat Seton La-Salle and Greensburg Central Catholic in the first two rounds of the WPIAL Class AA playoffs before losing to top-seed Quaker Valley, 4-0, in the semifinals Tuesday at Fox Chapel High School.
Despite the loss to the undefeated Quakers, the Lancers' season is still alive. They will play Shady Side Academy in a third-place consolation game at 4 p.m. Tuesday at W&J Field in North Franklin. The winner of that game advances to the PIAA tournament.
"Honestly, this season has been pretty amazing," said Fredley, who lives in West Deer Township. "We knew we had the talent this year, and we knew we were getting better as the season went on."
Behind Fredley, a star pitcher and outfielder, Deer Lakes won its second consecutive Section 3-AA title with a 12-0 record and entered the postseason as the No. 4 seed in the 16-team Class AA bracket.
"Adam has been our big-game pitcher all year," Deer Lakes coach Jon Pedrosky said. "He has grown immensely the past two seasons, developing three pitches for strikes. He understands the concept of pitching and can think his way through an at-bat better than most pitchers."
A right-handed pitcher, Fredley has been the Lancers' ace this season. Entering the Quaker Valley game, he owned an 8-1 record with a 2.32 ERA and 43 strikeouts in 39 innings.
"What has impressed me the most about Adam is his poise on the mound," Pedrosky said. "He doesn't get shaken easily, and he has trust in his teammates and himself. He's very confident on the field, but you would never know it by talking to him. He's very well grounded and down to earth.
"Bottom line, Adam is a great kid from a great family and is getting success because of his hard work and great character."
Offensively, Fredley is batting .398. Senior infielder Kevin Begley led the Lancers in hitting during the regular season by batting .480 with 29 runs scored.
As a junior, Fredley earned all-star honors by posting a 5-2 record with a 2.85 ERA and 50 strikeouts in 40 innings. He also batted .424 with 16 RBIs, with six doubles, one triple and 12 runs scored.
"He immediately stepped into a leadership role last year," Pedrosky said. "He's a tremendous leader, who leads both vocally and by example.
"The kid is always smiling. He always wants the ball and is an incredible competitor. He, along with his teammates, are just fantastic competitors."
Against Seton-LaSalle in the first round, Fredley allowed three hits in six innings to help guide the Lancers to a 2-1 win. Junior right-hander Todd Coleman (5-1) pitched in relief to record the save.
Coleman pitched a complete game against Greensburg Central Catholic in the quarterfinals and struck out six batters. Junior first baseman Josh Plocki supplied a two-out, two-run triple in the sixth inning to lead the Lancers to a 4-3 victory.
"All year our defense has been tremendous," said Fredley, who also played basketball at Deer Lakes and plans on studying engineering next fall at Pitt. "As a pitcher, you couldn't ask for anything more from the guys in the field.
"We've been fundamentally strong all year and have been able to come through with timely hits."
Deer Lakes, which won 11 consecutive games during the regular season and 14 of its past 15 before Tuesday, entered the semifinals by winning three consecutive one-run games.
"From the beginning of the year, we knew we could win and we showed that by winning those close games," Fredley said. "We just need to keep playing like we have all year.
"We're not a power-hitting team. We need to make the routine plays and get the big hits when needed. Playing 'small ball' helped us, and we found ways to win. We just need to keep doing that."