Golden Eagles follow the Rhoades to victory
Tyrone and Central are two of the top high school baseball teams in the area, and the start of Thursday’s quarterfinal game at the Curve Classic at PNG Field featured plenty of star power.
Penn State commit Aiden Coleman started on the mound for the Golden Eagles, and the first three batters he faced, Paxton Kling (LSU), Hunter Klotz (Kent State) and Devon Boyles (Radford) were also Division I baseball commits.
Kling, Klotz and Boyles got the better of Coleman in that first inning, as the Tyrone lefty struggled with his control and gave up six runs in the first three innings, but in the end, Thursday’s game came down to Coleman’s relief pitcher, Cortlynd Rhoades.
Rhoades didn’t light up the radar gun but threw enough strikes to help the Golden Eagles get back into the game and eventually pull away and win, 12-7.
“Coleman and (Central starting pitcher) Boyles were out there pumping 90 but both were struggling with control,” Central coach A.J. Hoenstine said. “Rhoades came in throwing strikes, and that’s the name of the game. (Central relief pitcher Ty) Helsel did a good job for us throwing strikes, too. That’s what wins games. You have to be around the strike zone and make the plays when they put the ball in play.”
Central led 4-0 after one inning thanks to four walks, two hit by pitches, and an RBI single by Klotz. The Scarlet Dragons drew 13 walks in the game but just one in the final two innings, and Hoenstine was upset with his hitters’ approach following that final walk. Four of the final six outs were made in one-pitch at bats.
“We had a leadoff four-pitch walk (down by three runs), and then the next guy swung at the first pitch, and that’s on me. I guess I should have given the take sign,” Hoenstine said.
Tyrone started to turn the game around in the bottom of the third inning when David Lang’s RBI single made it 6-3, but after Boyles struck out Zack LeGars, who later had a two-run double, for the second out, disaster struck for the Scarlet Dragons.
With the bases loaded, Blaine Hoover ripped a single to left. The ball skipped past the Central outfielder and rolled to the wall. The relay throw was mishandled for a second error on the play, and everyone — including Hoover — scored to make it 7-6 Tyrone. It was redemption for the Golden Eagles after they stranded the bases loaded in the first inning.
“It was huge, because we had some guys on base and knew we had to capitalize and not let those chances get away,” Hoover said. “It was unfortunate for Central, but it worked out for us.”
Hoover, also a starter on the Tyrone boys basketball team, said he knew Thursday’s game would be close.
“It’s always competitive (against Central) in every single sport,” Hoover said. “When we play Central, we know we’re in for a dog fight any time we step on a field, a court, anything against them. We’re both good clubs.”
Pitching with the lead, Rhoades appeared to settle into a groove and allowed just one run on Boyles’ RBI single in the final 4• innings of the game.
“Having the lead made us feel more comfortable and able to go after batters,” Tyrone coach Kevin Soellner said. “We started throwing more strikes. “Those were (Rhoades’) first innings of the year. We were down some pitching, and he came in and did a great job.”
Tyrone improved to 2-1 and will play the winner of today’s Altoona-Huntingdon game in the semifinals on Saturday. Central dropped to 4-1 and will play the loser of that game at 5:30 p.m. tonight.
“We did a lot of things that we take pride in not doing,” Hoenstine said. “We made some mistakes. Give them credit for putting the ball in play. We walked guys, and we say all the time in practice that errors are going to happen. I tell them all that none of them will ever have as many errors as I had in my career, but you have to make the next play. You can’t have two or three errors in a row, and we had that.”
The Golden Eagles struggled to score in their first two games, an extra-inning win over Penns Valley and a loss to Philipsburg-Osceola. Thursday the offense came alive with help from two hits, including a triple, from Brendan Grazier, and a 3-for-3 day from catcher Michael Buck.
“Our offense finally showed up, and I don’t know if it’s because who we were playing, because our guys respect them a lot, or what,” Soellner said. “They are among the best teams in the state, so this win gives us some confidence.”
Soellner said even though his team has a healthy respect for Central, his players were not intimidated.
“They still get three strikes and four balls,” Soellner said. “They are the best and a great team. They have a high baseball IQ with A.J. coaching them, but they put in the work and they’ll bounce back, I’m sure. We just were so excited to play here (in the Curve Classic), and I haven’t really slept too much. I love it. I’m getting older, and I’m going to enjoy every minute of this right now.”
CENTRAL (7): P. Kling ss 220, Klotz c 401, Metzger cr-pr 010, Boyles p-lf 302, G. Snowberger cr 010, Ebersole 2b 000, Smith dh 210, J. Snowberger 1b 200, Helsel cf-p 200, Hall 3b 310, Gregg lf-cf 312, L. Kling rf 400. Totals–25-7-5.
TYRONE (12): Hoover lf 512, Hunter cf 300, Lucas 3b 301, Shultz ss 312, Gampe 1b 420, Coleman p 000, Rhoades p 000, Grazier dh 332, Buck c 303, Brooks cr 030, Lang 2b 411, LeGars rf 311. Totals–31-12-12.
SCORE BY INNINGS
Central 402 010 0–7 5 4
Tyrone 025 302 X–12 12 0
E–P. Kling 2, Ebersole, Gregg. 2B–LeGars. 3B–Grazier. RBI–Klotz 2, Boyles 2, Helsel, Gregg, Grazier 2, LeGars 2, Lang, Buck, Hunter, Hoover.
Central: Boyles (L)–3IP, 6H, 7R, 3ER, 2K, 5BB, 81 pitches; Helsel–3IP, 6H, 5R, 4ER, 2K, 1BB, 55 pitches.
Tyrone: Coleman–2ªIP, 2H, 6R, 6ER, 3K, 9BB, 2HBP, 99 pitches; Rhoades (W)–4•IP, 3H, 1R, 1ER, 1K, 4BB, 57 pitches.
Records: Tyrone (2-1); Central (4-1).