Tyrone continues breakout season

Photo for the Mirror by J.D. Cavrich Tyrone third baseman Brandon Lucas tags out Central’s Hunter Klotz, who was trying for a triple.

MARTINSBURG — Tyrone’s baseball program clinched its first league title in 27 years earlier this week when it beat Philipsburg-Osceola.

In the nearly three decades since the Golden Eagles were champions, Central has played for several state championships and won one two seasons ago.

One of the Scarlet Dragons’ trips to the state championship game came in 2010, but that run nearly ended before it started. Tyrone held an eight-run lead over Central in the seventh inning of a first-round District 6 playoff game that year before allowing nine runs in the bottom of the seventh.

That’s the way things have gone for the Golden Eagles until this year.

Tyrone won its first 10 games, including triumphs over baseball powers Bellefonte, Bellwood-Antis, Philipsburg-Osceola and Central. The Golden Eagles entered Thursday’s second game against the Scarlet Dragons with a 16-2 record and continued their breakout season with a 6-5 victory.

“Our season last year was real rough,” said Thursday’s winning pitcher, Rodney Shultz. “This year, we came out of the gate awesome. We wanted to be able to come out and beat all the teams that killed us last year, and we’ve been able to do that.”

Tyrone went 5-13 a year ago with a talented but very young team that has used last year’s experience to put together a special season.

“The four main goals are beat Bellwood, win Mountain League, win districts and the fourth is states,” Tyrone coach Kevin Soellner said. “We’ve got two, and that’s a pretty big deal.”

Central led 3-0 going into the fifth inning before a strange play ignited the Golden Eagles’ offense. With runners on second and third and no outs, Shultz hit a low line drive toward second base. Central shortstop Paxton Kling dove for the ball as both runners took off.

Kling claimed he caught the ball and flipped to second for what he thought would be the second out. Matt Savino, the runner who started the play at third, had already crossed home plate, so if Kling had caught the ball, Central would have been able to throw to third for a triple play.

Base umpire Bill Wolf immediately signaled that Kling had trapped the ball, however, meaning no outs were recorded.

“I yelled back, then I saw it hit the ground, and I yelled go,” Soellner said. “I know that it hit the ground. That was obviously a big play, because it kept our inning going.”

Tyrone went on to score six runs in the inning and took the lead on a two-run Cory Lehman single.

“You can’t give up six runs in an inning, and that’s been our downfall a lot this season,” Central coach A.J. Hoenstine said. “We’ve been giving up big innings, which isn’t Central baseball. That was a tough play. I couldn’t really tell what happened, but I thought we had it and at least two outs. It turned into six runs, and you can’t give Tyrone a six-run inning.”

The Scarlet Dragons scored a run and loaded the bases in the bottom of the seventh inning before Aiden Coleman retired Tyler Helsel on a flyout after Shultz reached his pitch limit.

“They are an outstanding baseball organization,” Shultz said. “They’re always in district finals. To beat them twice is a great accomplishment.”

Both Shultz and fellow starting pitcher Kevin Lehner have beaten Central and Philipsburg-Osceola this season.

“I tried to make sure they each saw them once,” Soellner said. “We could potentially see both of those teams in the playoffs, and we wanted to give them a shot against them.”

Hoenstine credited the entire Mountain League for making each other better.

“I say every year that this is the best small-school league in Pennsylvania,” Hoenstine said. “Somebody from this league will make a deep run in the playoffs. I hope it’s us, but someone always does. It really prepares you for the playoffs, seeing good arms day in and day out. It’s great competition.”

TYRONE (6): Pearson cd 412, Light 1b 000, Lewis dh 412, Lehner 2b-rf 310, Lehman c 401, Hoover cr 000, Lucas 3b 400, Savino ss 211, Coleman rf-p 210, Shultz p 301, Lang cr-2b 010, Hunter lf 200. Totals — 28-6-7.

CENTRAL (5): P. Kling ss 321, Klotz c 311, Boyles 3b 401, Muthler 2b 311, Focht 1b 311, Helsel rf 400, Walters cf 301, Eberlin p 000, Ferry p 000, Bowman dh 100, L. Kling dh 200, Albright lf 300. Totals — 29-5-6.

SCORE BY INNINGS

Tyrone 000 060 0–6 7 3

Central 100 210 1–5 6 0

E–Savino 2, Lucas. 2B–Lewis, Savino, Klotz, P. Kling. RBI–Lehman 2, Pearson, Lucas, Shultz, Lewis, Helsel, Focht, Boyles, Walters.

PITCHING

Tyrone: Shultz (WP)–6 2/3IP, 6H, 3K, 2BB, 5R, 3ER, 99 pitches; Coleman (S)–1/3 IP, 0H, 0K, 2BB, 0R, 0ER, 15 pitches

Central: Eberlin (LP)–5IP, 6H, 5K, 3BB, 6R, 6ER, 95 pitches; Ferry–2IP, 1H, 0K, 0BB, 0R, 0ER, 25 pitches

Umpires: Joe Bidoli (HP); Bill Wolf (bases)

Records: Tyrone (17-2); Central (10-10).

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