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Spring brings memories of baseball

Living without spring sports gives everyone a chance to reflect on some of their memories of years past.

Staring out the window into the sun and an empty baseball field while visiting my father in Tyrone a couple weeks ago, I started to think about one of the most memorable high school baseball games I ever covered.

Ten years ago, Central hosted Tyrone in a game no one thought the Golden Eagles would win in the first round of the District 6 playoffs.

Tyrone left most of the fans in attendance, including its own, in shock when it took an 11-3 lead into the seventh and final inning. As the Golden Eagles, who came into the game with a 5-12 record, loaded the bases again in the seventh, I heard one of the Tyrone parents sigh about not knowing how to get to Richland, the team waiting to host the winner of that game in the next round.

She never had to look up directions.

Tyler Ferguson, who later went on to pitch professionally for the Washington Wild Things, escaped the jam, and Central scored nine runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to win, 12-11.

“I think things like that happen in baseball more than any other sport,” Central coach A.J. Hoenstine said. “I remember thinking to myself, I’m not sure at what point, but if we could get this guy on base, I knew we were going to win the game. When you have been around the game a long time, you get that feeling. I have been on the other end of it, too.”

C.J. Gahagan, who said after the game that he’d been part of a rally to win after being down 18-1 in a summer league game just a year ago, had the big blow with a three-run double to tie the game.

But other than Gahagan’s hit, which nearly cleared the wall for a walk-off grand slam, Central did not blister the ball all over the field. Central benefited from an error, three walks, three hit-by-pitches and a catcher’s interference call.

“We had some really hard-nosed kids on the team that year that knew their roles on the team,” Hoenstine said. “I remember yelling at some kids that year to get out of the way of pitches inside, but they weren’t afraid to take a hit by pitch and get on base.”

Dustin Brooks walked with the bases loaded to force home Gahagan to win the game.

What makes the game even more memorable was that the Scarlet Dragons went all the way to the PIAA championship game from there before losing to Bermudian Springs, 5-3.

“It’s amazing that we got to the state championship game that year after almost easily being beaten in the first round of the district playoffs,” Hoenstine said. “It’s not over until the fat lady sings, I guess.”

The run included avenging a District 6 championship game loss to Mount Union in the PIAA semifinals when Central tagged Clemson commit Brock Goodling with more runs allowed than he’d given up in the past two seasons combined.

As we all wonder when the next pitch will be thrown or the next diving catch will be made, what are some of your best high school sports memories? Email them to mboytim@altoonamirror.com, and they will be listed in a future column.

Michael Boytim can be reached at 946-7521. Follow him on Twitter @BoytimMichael

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