In 2016, Stow-Munroe Falls baseball didn't find its stride until May. When it did, it came within one game of the state final four.
This spring, Stow again appeared to be playing its best baseball at the end of the season.
However, there will be no playoff run in 2017 for the Bulldogs.
Stow's season came to an end May 10 in the Division I sectional final at Boardman, as the Spartans won a pitcher's duel 1-0 with the Bulldogs.
Stow finished the season with a record of 10-14.
Although his team was unable to duplicate the magic of 2016, Bulldogs coach Aaron DeBord refused to be down about the season.
"I wouldn't say it's a disappointing season," DeBord said. "We made a lot of positive strides on and off the field this year. We're going to have a lot of guys coming back next year. Hopefully, they can turn this year into a big positive for next year.
"I always told the kids not to worry about the end results," DeBord added. "We were competitive in just about every game. "We could have easily had 15 wins if just one or two plays a game would have went our way. I think we were a lot better of a baseball team than our record indicated."
In some ways, the Bulldogs' loss to Boardman was emblematic of the season.
Senior pitcher Jordan Jolly (2-3) pitched an excellent game, going the distance and allowing one earned run on four hits with four walks and three strikeouts.
Despite that effort, Jolly and the Bulldogs lost in walk-off fashion, as Boardman scored the game's lone run in the bottom of the seventh inning.
Boardman center fielder Gaven Strines was hit by a pitch and a throwing error put Strines on second and third baseman Matt Festo on first. After a wild pitch, Jolly walked shortstop Travis Harvey to load the bases.
Jolly was able to strike out second baseman Alex Cardona, but Spartan left fielder Luke Cardillo singled up the middle to drive home the winning run.
Stow's problem was it managed only two hits off Boardman starting pitcher Noah Land. A single in the second inning by shortstop Nick O'Verko and a single by right fielder Max Stillisano in the third was all the Bulldogs could muster.
"Their pitcher wasn't anything special. We hit the ball really hard all day, but right at people," DeBord said. "We had four or five line drives where they didn't have to move to make a play. We just didn't find any holes."
Land pitched five scoreless innings, giving up two hits and two walks with six strikeouts. Reliever Jared Wilson picked up the win, pitching two scoreless innings without giving up a hit.
Stow's best chance to score came in the second inning. With one out, second baseman Collin land was hit by a pitch and Griffin Mohney flew out. O'Verko then singled and designated hitter Brett Rhodes walked to load the bases.
However, third baseman Thomas McLaughlin struck out to end the inning.
DeBord paid tribute to his six outgoing seniors, as O'Verko, Stillisano, Jolly, Matt Conger, Stephen Falbo and Jack Miller graduate this spring.
"I wish they could have made another run like last year," DeBord said. "I'm absolutely thrilled with the accomplishments of our seniors.
"Jordan Jolly was our No. 1 pitcher and cleanup hitter all season. Nick O'Verko did a great job as our starting shortstop. Max Stillisanon led the team in batting (with a .364 battling average). If he would have stayed healthy, we could have won more games.
"Stephen Falbo did a great job pitching for us and Jack Miller gave up one (earned) run all year. Matt Conger played 95 percent of our games for us. They're going to be tough to replace."