Jared Skolnicki sat on a bus late Tuesday night, travelling from the site of his final high school baseball game back to his hometown.
Skolnicki was understandably crushed that his team fell one win short of making it to the PIAA Class AAA baseball championship game, but the three-hour drive from Green Township Park in Franklin County to Keystone Oaks High School allowed him plenty of time to reflect on his senior season.
"I'm so proud of everyone on my team," Skolnicki said. "We have really come a long way, especially from the beginning of the season. We had our ups and downs throughout the season. At the beginning of the season, I didn't know what to expect. Now, to have been part of the best team I've ever been on, it's an honor."
Keystone Oaks put forth the most successful baseball season in school history this spring. Unfortunately, what was an incredible ride came to a screeching halt in a 3-1 loss to District 1 runner-up Upper Moreland in the PIAA semifinals.
The Golden Eagles finished the season with a 20-6 record. They placed third in the WPIAL, made it to the PIAA tournament for the first time, and then won two PIAA playoff games.
"No words can describe it," Keystone Oaks coach Scott Crimone said.
Keystone Oaks had won nine of their previous 10 games before the loss to Upper Moreland. It was a game that misplays by a normally strong defense led to the Golden Eagles' demise. Four Keystone Oaks errors led to three unearned runs.
"We picked a bad day for a bad defensive game," Crimone said.
Upper Moreland scored twice in the bottom of the first inning. Taylor Lehman's RBI groundout in the second pulled Keystone Oaks within one, but Upper Moreland answered with a run in the third.
Keystone Oaks managed only two hits against Upper Moreland pitcher Tommy Robinson.
"He just came at batters," Skolnicki said.
Crimone had a major decision prior to the game in regard to who his starting pitcher would be. Skolnicki, a dominating left-hander and one of the top pitchers in the WPIAL, had pitched a five-hitter to help Keystone Oaks knock off previously undefeated South Park last Friday. Under PIAA rules, a pitcher who works more than five innings needs three days off before he can pitch again. The game against Upper Moreland was originally scheduled for Monday, but when rain postponed it until Tuesday, Skolnicki became eligible to pitch.
Crimone opted to pitch junior Taylor Lehman. Crimone said he had full confidence in Lehman. That, combined with the fact that Skolnicki had thrown about 200 pitches in the previous eight days, led to Crimone picking Lehman. As for Lehman, he didn't disappoint, holding Upper Moreland to three hits in four innings before being relieved by Skolnicki in the fifth.
"[Lehman] threw brilliantly," Crimone said. "Unfortunately, the gloves behind him weren't as good as usual."
Skolnicki, a Kent State recruit, ended the season 11-1 and allowed four runs (three earned) in 78 innings.
"He has a fantastic future," Crimone said. "I believe he'll be in the major leagues one day and we'll be rooting him on."
Skolnicki was part of a nine-player senior class that also included Brandon Gresh, Ryan Rosato, Ryan Ribeau, Erik Fawcett, Matt Iorio, Andy Hromoko, Mitch Cholewinski and Lynden Goehring.
"Keystone Oaks baseball has existed for 48 years. Those 15 guys [on the roster], no one has done it better," Crimone said. "They put our name on the map."