HOLLIDAYSBURG - The Hollidaysburg Golden Tiger baseball team has gone through a tale of two seasons, starting slowly but turning it around when it mattered late.
The Tigers managed to relive that in microcosm on Tuesday afternoon.
At the start of Hollidaysburg's District 6 Class AAA semifinal home game against Forest Hills, it couldn't have been more symbolic of how the season started for the Golden Tigers, as they fell behind by two runs.
Ironically, a perfect storm hit in the bottom of the seventh, and the Tigers' winning run came courtesy of a guy whose last name is Storm.
Second baseman Chris Storm capped off a two-run rally with an RBI single to lift second-seeded Hollidaysburg over third-seeded Forest Hills and into Thursday's 6-AAA championship by virtue of a 3-2 victory against the visiting Rangers at Tiger Field.
Hollidaysburg coach Jon Syznal was pleased with how his team has bounced back from the early start and thought its experience from the regular season had something to do with it.
"The season started off pretty tough battling against a lot of quad-A schools," he said. "We kept on battling, and it showed."
The Tigers were trailing 2-1 entering the bottom of the seventh and having little success against Rangers starter Justin Gdula when Hollidaysburg pinch-hitter Luke Glass - in for Brandon Gallagher - drew a leadoff walk.
Gallagher returned to the game and eventually scored on a walk to Brett Hileman, setting the stage for Storm to come to the plate with the bases loaded and one out.
Hitless in three previous at-bats, Storm came through with a single to plate Tanner Claar with the game-winning run. Afterwards, Storm acted as if it were business as usual.
"I just went up with the same approach to hit the ball hard," Storm said. "I wanted to hit the ball deep and score the game winning run."
Forest Hills manager Joe Carpenter was in a somber mood following the loss.
"Very difficult to lose that kind of game," Carpenter said. "It was a great game, a great playoff game. Walking that pinch-hitter was big.
"It was very difficult to recover."
The first two innings didn't go in the Tigers' favor, though. A Jordan McCall balk scored Jared Shope to give the Rangers a 1-0 lead. Next inning, a passed ball allowed Ryan Wilson to score, giving the Rangers a two-run cushion.
After that, however, McCall settled in. Syznal couldn't have been happier with how McCall rebounded as he worked with another freshman, Reid Miller, who was the other end of the Tiger battery.
"Take your hat off to Jordan. He pitched a good game against good hitting team who was hitting .340 as a team," Szynal said.
McCall gave up two runs on five hits in six innings of work before handing the ball over to Dom Viduya for the seventh.
When the fourth inning arrived, the game started to represent the second half of the season.
The Tigers' Ian Ford led off the inning with a double. He eventually scored on a RBI single by Thayne Russell, which cut the Ranger lead in half at 2-1.
The Tigers (13-8) now are rewarded with a trip to Peoples Natural Gas Field on Thursday where they will play top-seed Somerset.
"They earned a first place seeding for having a good record," Szynal said of Somerset. "They're a very good ball team."
FOREST HILLS (2): Shope ss 210, Mickus 3b 300, Gdula p 300, Smith 1b 301, Wright lf 301, Dumm pr 000, Ohler c 211, Wilson cr 000, Ivock ph 100, Richardson rf 201, Oswalt 2b 300, Murphy cf 301. Totals - 25-2-5.
HOLLIDAYSBURG (3): Claar cf 311, Burger 3b 401, Hileman ss 301, McCall p 000, Viduya p 000, Crum dh 300, Storm 2b 401, Ford 1b 311, Miller c 100, Urban cr 000, Russell cf 301, Scallen ph 100, Gallagher rf 210, Glass ph 000. Totals - 26-3-6.
SCORE BY INNINGS
Forest Hills110 000 0 - 2 5 2
Hollidaysburg000 100 2 - 3 6 0
E-Shope, Wright. 2B-Ohler, Claar, Ford. RBI-Hileman, Storm, Russell.
Forest Hills: Gdula (L)-6 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 3 K, 4 BB.
Hollidaysburg: McCall-6 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 K, 2 BB. Viduya (W)-1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 K, 1 BB.
Umpires: Dave Adams (plate), John Garritano, Steve Oaks
Records: Forest Hills (11-8); Hollidaysburg (13-8).