WYNDMOOR -- If West York baseball fans believe in omens, things looked bleak for the Bulldogs during Tuesday's PIAA Class AAA opening round game against District 12 champ Monsignor Bonner.
In fact, the notion of a big lead while playing a PIAA game at LaSalle College High School gave Bulldogs coach Roger Czerwinski a case of the willies.
The last time West York played at LaSalle, four years to the day, the Bulldogs blew a five-run lead and ended up losing. It's understandable why Czerwinski wasn't comfortable even though his team scored six times in the top of the first inning on Tuesday.
Six innings later, the nightmare nearly revisited West York as the Friars tied the game and had the winning run 90 feet away. However, Carson Fries came up huge in relief, and the Bulldogs scored three unearned runs in the top of the eight en route to a dramatic 9-6 victory.
"I told the kids I woke up with a nightmare. I did not want to go back to that field because of what happened," Czerwinski said. "Then they had the bases loaded and all they needed to do was chink one over or the kid to get a base hit ... and we lose."
West York improved to 18-8 and will face District 1 champ Holy Ghost Prep at 4 p.m. Thursday at Spring Ford High School in Royersford.
"Almost every single player played a part today in some capacity," Czerwinski said. "Most of our kids played today and had a role in it. This was a big team win for us. Everybody has a role, accepted the roles and have done such a nice job with it."
West York used 15 players, none more important than Fries when he moved from third base to pitch with two outs and the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh inning.
Fries got Bonner's dangerous No. 3 hitter Jimmy Haley on a deep fly out to left-center. He pitched a perfect bottom of the eighth after the Bulldogs scored three times in the top of the frame -- without recording a hit.
"I know I can throw strikes. It's not too often that I struggle," Fries said. "I would rather have him hit a home run off me than walk him and lose the game. He kind of lunged for it. I know he hit it solid, but there is plenty of room out there, and we have fast outfielders."
Mike Santiago, who came in to play third when Fries went to the mound, led off the eighth with a four-pitch walk, and Fries followed with the same.
Reserve Nick Traettino dropped a perfect bunt that Friars pitcher Dan Furman fielded but threw away, allowing Santiago to score and Fries to reach third. One out later, Brandon Rauhauser was intentionally walked to load the bases.
"He did his job and got the bunt down, but the hustle he put in to get to first and force the bad throw, that is what won the game for us," Fries said of Traettino.
Brandon Wetzel followed with a slow roller to second, but Fries and the speedy Traettino scored when Haley couldn't come up with the low throw for the fourth Bonner error of the game.
The first six Bulldogs hitters scored runs, with the benefit of only two hits as Friars starter Pat Vanderslice battled wildness and did not record an out.
Rauhauser walked, Wetzel was safe on an error before Brandon Kinneman, Logan Stover and Cole Bixler all walked for two runs. Brett Kinneman followed by lacing a three-run triple down the right-field line for a 5-0 lead. Brett Kinneman scored on a Fries single after a pitching change.
But West York went cold off Furman, until the eighth inning. Meanwhile, Bonner chipped away with two runs in each of the fourth, fifth and sixth innings, nicking Bulldogs starter Joey Prego and Brett Kinneman before Eric Zearfoss came in to pitch.
Although Zearfoss' third pitch got away from Bixler, the senior hustled to cover home and Bixler nailed the potential go-ahead run at the plate, ending the sixth inning.
"I won't say it's only my team, its high school kids. You get complacent," Czerwinski said "More importantly, they brought (Furman) in and he was darn good."
Tuesday's First Round Result
WEST YORK 9,
MONSIGNOR-BONNER 6 (8)
West York 600 000 03 -- 9 6 2
Msg. Bonner 000 222 00 -- 6 9 4
WY, Joey Prego, Brett Kinneman (6), Eric Zearfoss (6), Carson Fries (7) and Cole Bixler; MB, Pat Vanderslice, Dan Furman (1) and Steven Furman. SO-BB -- Prego 2-3, Kinneman 0-4, Zearfoss 0-2, Fries 2-0; Vanderslice 0-4, D. Furman 5-6. W -- Fries. L -- S. Furman. 2B -- WY, Bixler. 3B --WY, Kinneman.