West York’s Brandon Wetzel’s glasses break as the ball bounces and hits them off his head, allowing Upper Moreland’s Robert Knox to make
West York's Brandon Wetzel's glasses break as the ball bounces and hits them off his head, allowing Upper Moreland's Robert Knox to make it to second during the PIAA Class AAA championship game at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park in State College Friday, June 14, 2013. West York won the game 2-1, defending their title as state champions. (Daily Record/Sunday News -- Kate Penn)

STATE COLLEGE -- A year ago at Penn State's Medlar Field, Jerrin Toomey walked on the players' side of West York's customary postgame celebration with its fans. This time, he gave his high-fives and hugs from the stands.

Toomey played a crucial role on the Bulldogs' 2012 PIAA championship team as their leadoff hitter and center fielder. Now a college student at Bloomsburg, he watched them continue the run and become the state's first back-to-back champion since Moon High School, also Class AAA, in 2001 and '02.

"People doubted them all year long but they found ways to win games," Toomey said. "It's a great feeling to see guys who were underneath you at one point and younger doing the same thing -- keeping the program going, starting a dynasty."

That's what Bulldogs coach Roger Czerwinski hopes.

He remembers Toomey, pitcher Kaden Hepler and others grooming many current players for their roles. In Toomey's place, Brandon Rauhauser took over in center field and the leadoff spot. On the mound, Brandon Kinneman and Joe Prego took on the innings that went to Hepler last year.

Those three graduated Wednesday and played their final high school game Friday, but another handful of contributors from this team will return.

"That's what's really cool," Czerwinski said. "We can't replace personalities but positions to keep the success."

* * *

Just a little spark: Nicknamed "Mini" and one of four Brandons on the team -- including Brandyn Smith -- the 5-foot-7 Rauhauser was mostly just a pinch runner a year ago. But when Czerwinski told him his ability as a bunter could earn him more playing time, Rauhauser ran with the advice.

He searched for younger teammates to toss him a baseball to practice bunting whenever possible, and it led to him winning the leadoff spot on this year's lineup.

"The whole team works on it a lot," Rauhauser said, "but I definitely focused on it because when they're playing in on me on bunts, it's much easier to slap one past someone standing 60 feet away than 90."

Case in point, his two-run single to tie West York's semifinal at 3 in the sixth inning. Rauhauser came back in the championship game with a sacrifice bunt in the second inning to score Nick Traettino. The play proved to be the difference on the scoreboard for a 2-1 lead.

A challenge and prediction ring true: About a week after West York won last year's state championship, Roger Czerwinski received a call from a friend. Czerwinski declined to name his friend but remembers it "clear as day."

"Jokingly he said anybody can do it once," Czerwinski recalled, "but a real special team could do it twice. I thought, 'Holy pressure.' Well, here it is, June 14, and this group has accomplished that."

Before Friday's game, Czerwinski was asked by a PCN reporter what it was going to take to repeat.

Czerwinski replied that Brandon Kinneman would have to throw five innings, Carson Fries would have to throw two, and the Bulldogs would have to execute a squeeze bunt.

"All three happened," he said afterward.

Indeed, as Kinneman threw five great innings and Fries did what he did all postseason: shut down the opposition. And the Bulldogs scored the go-ahead run on a Rauhauser squeeze that plated Traettino.

"Knowing how good Upper Moreland is, we were going to have to find a way to cross a run. Our guys battled and battled to make things happen," Czerwinski added.

Prego a cheerleader: Because he pitched five innings during Tuesday's semifinal win against Abington Heights, Joe Prego could only cheer from the dugout on Friday.

While he said he would have loved to pitch in a championship game, he knew his role in getting the team there and had the utmost confidence in the Bulldogs chances with Kinneman and Fries on the mound.

"I was along for the ride today," said Prego, who garners praise from Czerwinski for charting pitches. "Brandon went out there and battled. Carson shut the door the entire playoffs. They did a great job out there. I didn't expect anything less."

Stover finds his swing in finale: Although he struggled early in the state tournament, sophomore Logan Stover drew a huge walk in West York's semifinal win after falling behind 0-2 in the count. He followed that in Friday's title game by lacing a single in the first inning.

"I had a great BP (Thursday). I just felt like I started to get going again. He threw me a changeup, I stayed back and got it through the left side," Stover said. "The way coach C said I've been a guinea pig the whole time. When called up from JV he put me in the No. 4 hole."

Only a sophomore, Stover embraced his role as a designated hitter or first baseman, depending on who was pitching.

"Cole (Bixler) and Carson (Fries) and Brett (Kinneman) are great baseball players. They were up here the whole run last year," he said. "If I get on base they are going to drive me in."

mgoul@ydr.com, 771-2076; snavaroli@ydr.com, 771-2060

Also of interest

Click here to replay Friday's live coverage, including tweets from Bulldog fans.

Two in a row: West York defends PIAA baseball title with a win vs. Upper Moreland

Steve Navaroli:Never doubt a Bulldog

Photo gallery: West York repeats as PIAA baseball champion