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Tyrone captures title again

When it comes to winning championships of any sort, once is nice, but twice is nicer.

That was the feeling for the Tyrone Legion team Wednesday night at Vets Field as it won its second straight George B. Kelley Federation title in impressive fashion, locking up a three-game sweep of the best-of-five championship series with a 12-2, five-inning mercy-rule victory over Park Home.

Tyrone Legion blew the game open with seven runs on eight hits in the second inning, then sealed the victory with a run in the bottom of the fifth inning.

“It’s good to come back this year and do what we expected to do,” star pitcher and outfielder Kevin Lehner said. “It’s tough every year. We have some kids playing in basketball leagues, some players doing summer football activities. We just try to balance all of that and compete.”

Throw in the uncertainty that has been created by the COVID-19 pandemic this year, and the challenge became magnified. There were no guarantees until early June that summer sports leagues would be able to hold their seasons, but when they did, the Tyrone Legion team was ready to compete.

Particularly in the playoffs, where Tyrone Legion swept a pair of three-game series in two straight games leading up to the three-game sweep in the championship series.

“Winning playoff games is our goal,” Tyrone Legion manager Kevin Soellner said. “These are the games that we want. We swept seven games in three playoff series this year. Today, we definitely came in with a mission.”

Especially in the second inning, when Tyrone Legion sent 10 batters to the plate, wiped out a 1-0 deficit, and built a commanding 7-1 lead.

Lehner started the uprising with a triple to center, and scored on a single to left field by shortstop Rodney Shultz. Pitcher Ross Gampe reached on a forceout, moved to third on first baseman Brendan Grazier’s single to right field, and scored on the front end of a double steal, with Grazier taking second and moving to third on an error.

Catcher Michael Buck’s single to center field scored Grazier for a 3-1 Tyrone Legion lead. After third baseman Nick Lehner reached on a forceout, he advanced to second on a single to center field by left fielder Blaine Hoover, and scored on center fielder Bryce Hunter’s single to center.

Hoover, who moved up to second on Hunter’s single, scored on second baseman David Lang’s single to right field, giving Tyrone Legion a 5-1 lead.

Extra hitter Brandon Lucas scorched a double into the left field corner, scoring Hunter from third and Lang from first to complete the big inning.

“We hit better than we have been,” Soellner said. “We had no walks in that inning. We just hit the ball. Everybody was putting the ball in play.”

Park Home manager Scott McClellan was quick to give credit where credit was due.

“They’re a very good team, the best team in the league, and they deserve (the championship),” McClellan said. “At the same time, I’m extremely proud of the job that our guys did this year.”

Tyrone Legion added four runs on five hits in the third inning, with Grazier’s long homer over the right field fence following Shultz’s infield single to plate the first two runs.

“It was a down-and-in pitch, a fast ball, and I was just trying to put it into play,” Grazier said.

After infield singles by Buck and Nick Lehner, Buck scored on a Park Home error and Lang’s double to right field chased home Nick Lehner.

Park Home, which got an RBI single from second baseman Dylan Igoe in the second inning, stayed alive with a run in the top of the fifth, courtesy of a triple by catcher Joe DeRubeis and an RBI single to left from Breyden Molina.

Tyrone Legion responded with a clinching run in the bottom of the fifth to lock up the championship. Catcher Luke Brooks singled to center, went to third on third baseman Michael Stoner’s single to right field, and beat the throw home with a slide onn left fielder Jesse Yingling’s fielders choice grounder to short.

Grazier will be one of the many players returning among a strong nucleus for Tyrone Legion in 2021.

“It feels good to win,” said Grazier, who will be a senior this fall at Tyrone High School, and who played Legion baseball instead of Federation baseball last summer. “This is my first year winning a championship with this team.”

Soellner said that his team will be looking forward to next season very soon.

“We have a lot coming back,” said Soellner, who loses only four players off his roster. “We’re going to be ready.”

PARK HOME (2): DeRubeis c 312, Molina lf-3b 101, Leonard dh 200, Turiano ss 300, B. Baney 1b 010, Carothers 3b-p 100, Friedenberger p-lf 200, Igoe 2b 201, Hoover cf 100, Savoy rf 101, J. Baney rf 101. Totals –17-2-5.

TYRONE LEGION (12): Hunter cf 311, Legars cf 000, Lang 2b-p 312, C. Bonsell 2b 100, R. Light 2b 000, Lucas EH 301, K. Lehner rf 211, Vipond rf 100, Shultz ss 212, A. Pearson ph 101, Gampe p 210, Grazier 1b 222, N. Light 1b 100, Buck c 212, Brooks c 111, N. Lehner 3b 221, Stoner 3b 101, Hoover lf 211, Yingling lf 100. Totals –30-12-16.

SCORE BY INNINGS

Park Home 010 01X X–2 5 1

Tyrone Legion 074 01X X–12 16 1

PITCHING

Park Home: Friedenberger (L) 1.2IP, 8H, 7R, 7ER, 0BB, 0SO; Clouser 2.1 IP, 6H, 4R, 2ER, 0BB, 1SO; Carothers 3 batters, 2H, 1R, 1ER, 0BB, 0SO.

Tyrone Legion: Gampe (W) 4IP, 3H, 1R, 0ER, 3BB, 2SO; Lang 1 IP, 2H, 1R, 1ER, 0BB, 0SO.

WP–Gampe. PB–Buck 2.

E–Igoe, Yingling. 2B–Lang, Lucas, A. Pearson. 3B–DeRubeis, K. Lehner. HR–Grazier. RBI–Igoe, Molina, Lang 2, Lucas 2, Grazier 2, Hunter, Buck, Yingling. LOB–Tyrone Legion 5, Park Home 4. SB–DeRubeis, Gampe, Grazier. CS–Savoy (Buck to Shultz to N. Lehner); Friedenberger (Buck to Lang).

Umpires: Luke Eckenrode (plate); Paul Eckenrode (1b); Sam Patton (3b).

Time of game: 1:20.

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