WASHINGTON, Pa. -- With an undefeated and sometimes dominant regular season, Quaker Valley left little doubt coming into the WPIAL Class AA title game that it was the team to beat for the district championship.
So heading into the biggest game of the season Tuesday, the Quakers were hoping to become the fifth WPIAL team since 1979 to win a championship with a perfect record.
Instead, Beaver wrote a perfect finish of its own.
Behind a five-run third inning and a complete game from senior pitcher Austin Ross, Beaver handed the Quakers their first loss in thoroughly convincing fashion, notching a 7-1 victory that gave Bobcats the Class AA championship at Consol Energy Park in Washington.
Beaver manager Bruce Herstine sensed in the game's opening moments that this could be his team's day. How right he was.
"In the first inning, when I saw Austin Ross pitch, I said, 'He's on,' " Herstine said after Bobcats (17-3) dropped Quaker Valley's record to 21-1. "I knew he was on this day and I knew things would go well."
From the start, Ross displayed control and command, striking out 10, walking none and allowing no earned runs in seven innings.
His Quaker Valley counterpart, Jake Pilewicz, pitched just as well in the first two innings, but the course of the game swung in the third.
Shortstop Austin Logan started the scoring for the Bobcats with a single up the middle that drove in third baseman Matt Rose. Ross followed with a two-run single.
By the time the inning ended, five runs scored, Tyler Garbee relieved Pilewicz, and the outcome was no longer in doubt.
Ross efficiently worked his way through the Quakers lineup the rest of the way, culminating with a game-ending strikeout that brought his teammates rushing to the mound to tackle him.
"I told my friends that I wanted to strike the last kid out to make it more dramatic and, when he missed all three of them, I felt great," Ross said. "It was awesome."
The mood was distinctly different in the Quakers dugout.
Quaker Valley also will advance to the PIAA playoffs, but the loss tarnished what shaped up as an historic season.
The championship is Beaver's first in baseball since 2008, a team also coached by Herstine.
But for Herstine this win had a different feel. With his son on the team, he wanted a new group of Bobcats players to experience that same, unparalleled joy he experienced in 2008.
"I wanted him to enjoy what I experienced the first time around, and he did," Herstine said. "I asked the guys, 'Is it what I told you it would be?' And they said, 'Yes, it is.' The feeling's that good."
Craig Meyer: firstname.lastname@example.org and Twitter @CraigMeyerPG.