Golden Eagles’ impressive season comes to end

TYRONE — The rain stayed away from the Harry K. Sickler Sports Complex Thursday afternoon for the District 6 Class 3A semifinal between Tyrone and Mount Union, and the visiting fourth-seeded Trojans made the best of their opportunity.

Tyrone starting pitcher Kevin Lehner got rocked by the Trojans’ bats in the third inning for five runs — one earned — including a two-run RBI double by Dylan Gearhart to help the Trojans get a 3-1 lead and go on to win the game, 8-2.

Andrew Pearson and Blaine Hoover scored runs for the Golden Eagles. Gearhart finished the game with two RBIs on 3-for-4 hitting to lead the Trojan attack.

“Yeah, they slapped the ball around pretty good,” Tyrone coach Kevin Soellner said. “We knew they would hit, but I really thought we would hold them down to about four or five runs, but it wouldn’t have mattered today because we didn’t hit. I thought we’d hit the ball.”

Lehner managed to get through until the third and got two outs after walking the leadoff batter to start the side, but things started coming apart after Quinnton Fultz scored on a Grayson McClain RBI groundout. Gearhart’s double scored Matt Harshbarger to get to put the Trojans ahead for good.

Aiden Coleman replaced Lehner and went for 2ª innings, and he had just as hard a time with three more runs allowed and seven hits.

Rodney Shultz, fresh off a win Monday night in the quarterfinals, came on in the sixth to close out the side with a strikeout and then pitched the full seventh with no further offense for the Trojans.

Mount Union coach Tim Hicks said while the Trojans were stagnant at the plate early, things turned around after they had some time to go through the lineup.

“We could put the ball in play, we just couldn’t find any holes,” Hicks said. “But once we got some baserunners on the second time around (the lineup), we started hitting the ball. Dylan had the huge double into right-center to give us the lead, and once that happened, the floodgates just opened.”

For Tyrone (18-4), the season that started with a 10-game win streak is now over. After an up-and-down 2018 season with a younger team, improvement was expected, but Soellner said he believed his team could be this good.

“I knew we could do this,” he said. “Last year we lost a bunch that I thought we should have had. We were over the hump. I probably would have said 14 or 15 (wins), to be honest. But 18? “

But the breaks didn’t go Tyrone’s way Thursday.

“Obviously, the Gearhart boy is a stud. It is what it is. But they got a few more breaks that way. Balls, seeing-eye singles, stuff like that,” Soellner said.

Mount Union (20-3), now also qualified for the PIAA Tournament, is headed to Tuesday’s District 6 Class 3A championship game, which is scheduled to be played at Altoona’s PNG Field at a time to be determined later against the winner of today’s game between Philipsburg-Osceola and Forest Hills.

“This is the goal every year in our program is to get to the District finals because, if you get to the district finals, you’re in the state playoffs,” Hicks said. “And we’ve been so close. Every year for the last five years we’ve been in the quarterfinals, we’ve been in the semifinals, we just hadn’t been able to get over that hump.”

Hicks praised his team for excellent play and determination despite coming in as a middle seed.

“These guys, they deserve it,” he said. “We’ve played great baseball all year, and I know we came in as a four seed, had to play on the road. But these guys have played such great baseball all year. Even when things aren’t going well, they grit it out and they get back in the game and the defense behind them makes plays.”

MOUNT UNION (8): McClain cf 310, Harshbarger 2b 420, Gearhart 3b 423, Posey lf 412, Hand 1b 412, Carbaugh ss 402, Smith P 301, Fultz rf 311, Brumbaugh dh 301, Wilson cr 000. Totals — 31-8-12.

TYRONE (2): Pearson cf 411, Lewis rf 402 Lehner p-1b-2b 301, Lehman c 301, Lucas 2b-p-3b 301, Savino ss 300, Shultz 2b-p 200, Hunter rf 301, Lang dh 300, Hoover cr 010. Totals — 27-2-7.

SCORE BY INNINGS

Mount Union 005 201 0–8 12 1

Tyrone 100 010 0–2 7 2

E–Carbaugh, Savino 2. 2B–Lehman, Pearson. RBI–McClain, Gearhart 2, Posey, Hand 2, Smith 2, Lehman.

PITCHING

Mount Union: Smith (WP)–7 IP, 2 R, 2 ER, 7 H, 1 K, 2 BB, 85 pitches.

Tyrone: Lehner (LP)–2ª IP, 5 R, 1 ER, 5 H, 1 K, 1 BB, 62 pitches; Coleman– 2ª IP, 3 R, 3 ER, 7 H, 0 K, 2 BB, 57 pitches; Shultz–1ª IP, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 H, 2 K, 0 BB. WP–Smith. LP–Lehner.

Umpire: Larry Stitt (umpires), John Garritano (1B), Mark Eberwin (3B).

Records: Mount Union (20-3); Tyrone (18-4).

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