The moment Seton-LaSalle's varsity baseball team qualified for the WPIAL playoffs, Shawn Trainor believed his team could make some noise in the Class AA bracket.
As things turned out, the Rebels ended up making all types of racket.
Besides knocking off a few higher-seeded teams along the way, Seton-LaSalle used a pair of extra-inning wins in the quarterfinal and semifinal rounds to propel itself into the championship game.
Making their first appearance in a WPIAL final since winning the 1995 Class AA crown, the Rebels (15-7) ended up losing to Steel Valley and witnessed their season come to an end a few days later following a first-round exit in the PIAA playoffs.
"I wasn't expecting us to go that far," Trainor said. "I have to give my players credit because in their mind, they believed they would at least be playing in the WPIAL championship game.
"They were confident in their abilities. We had a good team. We didn't win our section, but once we knew we got into the playoffs, we knew anything could happen."
Seton-LaSalle battled Steel Valley tough and even owned a two-run lead with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning. The Rebels, though, ended up losing, 6-5.
"It's the second time it's happened to me," said Trainor, who has been with the program for 23 years, including the past 13 seasons as head coach. "In 2007 we lost to North Catholic [by one run in the bottom of the seventh inning]. Still, it's a good experience. Win or lose, you will always remember playing in a championship game because it's so hard to get to that game."
Seton-LaSalle still advanced into the PIAA Class AA playoffs but lost a 7-2 decision June 3 against District 10 champion Franklin at Jerry Uht Park in Erie.
"When we won [a WPIAL title] in 1995, we got thumped in the first round of the state playoffs," Trainor said. "We knew it was going to be tough and I told the guys it was also going to be tough for Steel Valley to get up for their first-round game [the Iornmen lost to Bedford, 10-4].
"We started out with an early 1-0 lead and were still in the game until they got a couple of runs. We battled, but we left guys on base. We got some good hits off a good lefty pitcher, but we couldn't get the big hit to get us back in the game and get any momentum going. We were out-pitched, out-fielded and out-hit in that game."
Seton-LaSalle went 12-5 during the regular season and finished third in Section 1-AA behind South Side Beaver and Quaker Valley with a 10-4 section record. The Rebels entered the WPIAL playoffs with a No. 9 seed and topped Brownsville, 14-5, in the first round.
They went on to knock off top-seeded Neshannock, 3-2, in nine innings during the quarterfinal round before needing another nine innings to beat No. 5-seed Deer Lakes, 3-2, during the semifinals.
"We played well as a team," Trainor said. "We didn't rely on only four or five guys because our entire lineup came through for us. Every game a different guy stepped up.
"Our kids battled. Anyone who had an at-bat battled the whole at-bat no matter who the pitcher was. That's what made me the happiest. Our kids never threw away an at-bat or an inning. They battled the entire way."
Senior infielder/pitcher David Boehme paced the Rebels in hitting during the regular season by batting .528 (28 for 53) with 20 RBIs. Senior Matt Wilke followed with a .474 batting average (27 for 57) with 20 runs scores, while sophomore catcher Liam Sweeney knocked in a team-leading 24 RBIs.
Pitching-wise, Boehme as well as junior Carson Rebel each posted 5-1 records.
Despite graduating four seniors in Boehme, Wilke, senior outfielder Kevin Curran and pitcher/infielder Dom DelGreco, who missed most of the season due to a knee injury incurred during football season, Trainor should welcome back a more experienced group next year. He started three juniors, three sophomores and one freshman at times this past season.
"I've told the guys to enjoy this experience because they may never get back to a championship game," Trainor said. "But we still bring back a nice core coming back for next year. It's a decent core, so we should have a decent team next year."