For about a third of the game Saturday at Sovereign Bank Stadium, the York County townball all-stars held their own in an exhibition game against the York Revolution.
Then reality set in.
The Central and Susquehanna Leaguers surrendered six runs in the fourth and nine more in the eighth, opening the floodgates to an 18-1 blowout win for the Revolution. The long-awaited contest was played in front of 5,026 fans on a gorgeous sunny afternoon.
Any lingering misconceptions about the legitimacy of the brand of baseball being played at the Vault should finally be put to rest.
Indeed, the people with the best perspective on this game all along seemed to be the participants themselves.
"Obviously, they're all excellent ballplayers," Glen Rock's Fritz Allison said of the Revs.
"I thought it was actually going to be the other way around. I thought our pitching and defense would do OK and our offense would struggle."
Allison hit a one-out gap double to right-center field against Revs starter Rick Bauer in the top of the third. It proved to be the all-stars' only extra-base hit.
"It's a great stadium, it was a pleasure to play here," all-stars manager Curly Holtzapple said. "I thought we'd come in here and give them a decent game. Unfortunately, some things happened (and) it kind of fell apart. They were the professionals, and they proved it today.
Red Lion's Shawn Hedrick started the game and was nearly perfect in his two innings of work, surrendering just one walk and striking out four to keep the locals even in a scoreless tie.
"I didn't really know what to expect, to tell you the truth," said Hedrick, who tried out for the Revolution at the team's open tryout camp last week but didn't make the cut. "I was just bringing my pitches, see what happens.
"Yeah, (I surprised myself), especially when I saw 92 (mph) up there on the scoreboard. When I'm out there, it's you and the plate, you and mitt."
Holtzapple never wavered from his game plan, which was to get everyone playing time, no matter the score or situation. That included Hedrick, who was done after two.
"We had a plan from the start. We tried to go by it, Everybody deserved a shot to go out and play," Holtzapple said of his squad. "They gave it their best shot."
The Revs did all their damage off townball relievers, starting by nicking Chris Powl of Stoverstown for the first run of the game in the bottom of the third.
Things took a downward turn for the locals in the fourth, when the Revs plated six runs against York Township's Drew Kelley and Matt Gonzalez to inflate the lead to 7-0.
The first five Revs reached, and all came around to score. The hosts sent 11 batters to the plate. But that was just a warm-up.
Leading 9-1 in the bottom of the eighth, the Revs sent 13 to dish and scored nine times to blow it open. Matt Esquivel's two-run home run to left -- a blast off Windsor's Shawn Wilson -- capped the affair.
Jimi Nomikos had an RBI single to right in the seventh for the townballers, off Revs reliever Josh Sharpless.
The game was implemented to bring fans of the two brands of ball together -- a small risk for the pro outfit, but with a big upside. Judging by the size of the crowd -- by all accounts, almost certainly an Atlantic League exhibition game record -- it was mission accomplished, as part of the Revolution's FanFest celebration.
It also raised nearly $6,500 for the Central League Scholarship Fund.
And it provided valuable spring work for the Atlantic Leaguers, who have a fraction of the time to get ready for the season that their big league brethren enjoy, while giving the townballers the thrill of playing in a first-rate facility in a competitive environment.