When Western Beaver left Consol Energy Park in Washington March 27, it did so with a shutout loss to South Side Beaver, the first in a pair of setbacks that amounted to a 0-2 start.
Barely two months later, it left the same field as a champion.
After trailing for much of the game, the Golden Beavers got two runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to defeat Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, 3-2, in the WPIAL Class A championship Wednesday.
With the win, Western Beaver extended its streak to 18 in a row, a run that began with complete confidence.
"When we got here [in March], we said we were going to get back here, and they wanted to do this," said Western Beaver coach Chad Miller. "We didn't celebrate all year one time over anything -- over going undefeated in section play, nothing.
"We didn't celebrate one time. Our goal was to come here and compete for those two hours and do the best we could do."
While a championship was something the Golden Beavers (18-2) envisioned for much of their season, the way they won it would have been much harder to predict.
Holding a one-run lead in the top of the seventh, with an opposing runner in scoring position, Western Beaver pitcher Nick Miller made a pick-off move toward second base that caught OLSH's Santino Platt in a rundown with two outs.
After a brief and frenzied chase between Platt and Miller, Platt was tagged out attempting to slide head-first into third base, ending the game and giving Western Beaver the title.
"I knew he was going to run, so we just made the play," Miller said.
Trailing, 2-1, in the bottom of the sixth, Western Beaver scored thanks to a misplayed ball in center field. After a sacrifice bunt advanced Hunter Roknich to third, Steve Robison drove in the winning run.
Though both teams advance to the PIAA playoffs, the loss prevented the Chargers (19-3) from winning the first WPIAL baseball title in school history.
"It was just a battle," OLSH coach Phil McCarren said. "We made a few mistakes in the field, but not to take anything away from them. They battled and they got the job done when they needed to."
For the Golden Beavers, it is their second baseball title and first since 2000.
"The pride these guys have and the respect they have for each other, just being a teammate," Miller said. "One through nine we believed we could do the job, and we went out there and proved that."mobilehome - breaking - hsbaseball
Craig Meyer: firstname.lastname@example.org and Twitter @CraigMeyerPG