Over the years, Central High School's baseball program has been as successful as any in the area.
The Scarlet Dragons were District 6 and PIAA runners-up in Class AA in 2010 and appear headed for another solid season.
Central used a strong pitching performance by Jared Baird and scored six runs over the last three innings to upend Tyrone, 8-3, in the opening round of the 2011 Curve Classic on Saturday afternoon at Blair County Ballpark.
"Central's very competitive and we struggle with them every year," Tyrone coach Mark Savino said. "[Including the playoffs], I think they played here [BCB] about four times last year, so this is like a home field for them."
Short of calling the Altoona Curve ballpark a second home, Central coach A.J. Hoenstine said: "The kids get excited to play here. It's an awesome atmosphere. We'll play here anytime. We'd play at 5 a.m., if we had to."
Hoenstine noted the Dragons have several returnees from last year's team that made a run at the state title.
"Jared Baird and Tyler Ferguson threw a lot for us last year," he said. "We have a couple other starters back and some young guys who are coming along.
"It's a long way off, but we got a taste of it last year and they worked a lot harder in the off season, I'll tell you that."
The Dragons are 3-1 on the young season, and Tyrone slipped to 0-4 with Saturday's loss.
'We're 0-4 [overall], and it's been the same situation every game," Savino said. "We've been winning every game until the fifth inning, so we've got mental issues to deal with."
Combining two bunt singles and a error, Tyrone scored twice in the bottom of the fourth to take a 3-2 lead. However, Central parlayed a pair of walks, an error and a single by Austin Cunningham to get those runs back in the fifth and grab a 4-3 advantage.
Two more free passes and a single by Adam Kreider led the way for two Central runs in the sixth and the Dragons tacked on two insurance tallies in the seventh on singles by Pat Schon and Cunningham and sacrifice flies by Lucas Runk and Kasey Hamm.
"Six walks," Savino said, shaking his head. "We had two sophomores and a junior pitching today and Central's going to produce runs on walks. You've got to keep them off the bases, and we didn't do that."
Hoenstine was disappointed his team collected only six hits, but he was pleased with his eighth and ninth batters.
"I was happy with Wes Smith and Adam Kreider," he said. "Smith got a big walk in the fifth, and Adam had a big hit in the sixth. They know their jobs and came through to set the table for the top [of the order]."
He also was pleased with the pitching of Baird, a senior lefty, who gave up only four hits while striking out seven and walking five. Baird held Tyrone hitless over the last three innings while fanning four and walking two.
"Jared is one of those guys who seems to get stronger as the game goes on," Hoenstine said. "It's tough to go seven [innings] on a day like this, but he's one guy who can do it."
Baird said the cold weather was part of the game.
"It's a lot easier [to pitch] in warm weather," Baird said, "but it's the same for everybody. It's a little tough to loosen up, but they had only four hits and two of them were bunts."
The southpaw said the Dragons hope to have another good playoff run.
"It's definitely a goal," he said, "but everybody wants to beat the state runner-up and we know that."
CENTRAL (8): Schon rf 312, Cunningham 412, Runk cf 300, Baird p 300, Stern ph 100, Hamm c 200, Brandon cr 010, Blattenberger 1b 311, C. Kreider 210, Smith dh 120, Knisely 2b 000, A. Kreider lf 211. Totals - 24-8-6.
TYRONE (3): Cowher ss 301, Belinda 3b-p 100, Hample p 100, Kimberling 1b 400, Pannebaker cf 200, Nevling-Ray c 300, Faretta 2b 311, Dorminy p 111, Shaffer 3b 100, Murray rf 311, Wagner lf 300. Totals -25-3-4.
SCORE BY INNINGS
Central002 022 2-8 6 2
Tyrone010 200 0-3 4 3
E-Hamm, C. Kreider, Belinda, Kimberling, Pannebaker. RBI-Schon, Runk, Hamm, Smith, Murray, Wagner. SF - Runk, Hamm. Sac - Schon. SB - Schon 2, Cunningham 2, C. Kreider, Smith, A. Kreider, Belinda 2, Kimberling 2, Faretta, Dorminy. WP-Baird. LP-Belinda. SO-Baird 7, Dorminy 3, Belinda 3. BB-Baird 5, Dorminy 2, Belinda 4.
Umpires - Jim Klausman (plate); Gene Decker (bases).
Records: Central (3-1); Tyrone (0-4).