It was a tough decision: Stand with their classmates at commencement and celebrate their academic accomplishments, years in the making. Or lead their university’s baseball team to a championship.

In the end, 12 graduating seniors at Gwynedd Mercy University decided to … Play Ball!

The students had to make the decision after the second game of the Atlantic East Conference baseball championship series was scheduled for Saturday, the same day as the Montgomery County Catholic school’s commencement.

At first, it looked like the decision might not have paid off. The Griffins fell behind by 8-3 early in the game, but rallied and beat Cabrini by 10-9. It was their second win of a possible three-game series.

Graduating seniors on the Gwynedd Mercy University baseball team are: Back L to R: Ryan Keen, Nick DeRitis, Dave Tatoian, Nick Joyce, Josh Lopez, Jason Mulvey, Bryan Kaelin Front L to R: Gino Tripodi, Tommy Nardini, Justin Curtin, Sachael Sciarretta, Brandon Gray
Gwynedd Mercy University
Graduating seniors on the Gwynedd Mercy University baseball team are: Back L to R: Ryan Keen, Nick DeRitis, Dave Tatoian, Nick Joyce, Josh Lopez, Jason Mulvey, Bryan Kaelin Front L to R: Gino Tripodi, Tommy Nardini, Justin Curtin, Sachael Sciarretta, Brandon Gray

And they were the champions.

After the championship ceremony, the 12 seniors donned their caps and gowns and rose from the dugout. Younger players held up their bats like a bridge for the seniors to pass under and hummed the traditional processional song.

“I’ll remember it forever,” said Paul Murphy, head coach.

Murphy called their names and presented each with a diploma. Gwynedd Mercy president Deanne D’Emilio endorsed the special graduation ceremony when she learned about the time conflict, he said. She’ll also fete the players at a barbecue this month.

“Their parents were so thankful,” Murphy said. “The guys were playing, and yet they still got acknowledged for graduating and all the hard work they did in the classroom.”

Graduating senior Dave Tatoian approaches Gwynedd Mercy University coach Paul Murphy to receive his degree after the baseball team won the championship.
Gwynedd Mercy University
Graduating senior Dave Tatoian approaches Gwynedd Mercy University coach Paul Murphy to receive his degree after the baseball team won the championship.

So the initial dilemma turned out to be not so bad.

There aren’t many students who get to win a championship and graduate on the same day.

“Best graduation ceremony ever,” one parent tweeted.