Tyrone wins first-ever state baseball title
UNIVERSITY PARK — Tyrone third baseman Brandon Lucas fielded a sharply-hit grounder and threw to first base for an out just like he’s done hundreds of times.
But this time, it meant so much more.
The simple play ignited a raucous celebration for a team and a community that had never experienced anything like it in the history of its program.
It was the final out of the Golden Eagles’ first-ever baseball state championship, a 5-0 triumph over District 3 champion Oley Valley in the PIAA Class 3A championship game at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park on Thursday.
“My adrenaline spiked when Brandon fielded that ball, and I thought, ‘oh my God, we’re going to win a state championship,'” Tyrone starting pitcher Aiden Coleman said. “Then, when (first baseman) Ross (Gampe) caught it, I just felt an unbelievable wave of emotion. It was unreal.”
The victory capped an incredible state playoff run by Tyrone that began the day after an 11-1 loss to Central in the District 6 championship game.
“With our pitching, I knew there was a chance for us to win a state title,” Tyrone coach Kevin Soellner said. “Typically, you have to have two really good pitchers, and we had that (Coleman and senior Rodney Shultz). I was worried about our offense, but we changed our approach after the district championship game and the way we worked on things in practice. It definitely paid off.”
The Golden Eagles defeated District 5 champion Bedford, WPIAL champion Hopewell and avenged their loss to Central during their run to Thursday’s state final. Those three victories were the first PIAA playoff wins in the program’s history.
Coleman retired the side in order in the top of the first inning, and Tyrone made it 1-0 in the bottom of the inning when Bryce Hunter singled, stole second and scored on Gampe’s double.
Oley Valley threatened for the only time in the game during the top of the second inning. Garet Blankenbiller, who pitched the Lynx to a semifinal win but was unavailable on the mound for the championship, had the first of his two hits and moved to third on Luke MacDonald’s single with one out. MacDonald stole second on a close play, but Coleman struck out the next two batters to keep Tyrone ahead.
“When we fell down early, I told them we were going to have to grind it out,” Oley Valley coach Nate Reed said. “We tried to scratch it out, but their pitcher did a great job.”
The Golden Eagles added two more runs in the bottom of the third inning on a Shultz triple and two Oley Valley errors, and then knocked Lynx starting pitcher Eddie Standhardt out of the game with four straight one-out hits in the bottom of the fourth.
Oley Valley reliever Sean Hoffman limited the damage to two more runs, but the Lynx managed just one baserunner in the final three innings.
“We were a better team than we showed today,” Reed said. “It’s tough to beat a team with only three hits. But no one expected us to get to this point, and I couldn’t be prouder of this team.”
Facing his final batter of the game regardless of the outcome due to reaching the PIAA-maximum pitch count of 105, Coleman got Lucas Myford on the grounder to Lucas, and he began jumping into the air before Lucas’ throw even made it across the diamond.
“I started getting teary-eyed. I started crying because this is something I have been dreaming about since I was 10 years old,” said Shultz, who pitched Tyrone to victory in its PIAA semifinal win over Central on Monday. “I dedicate this win to any Tyrone baseball player who has ever been in the program, because without them and without my uncle Jim (Coleman), who taught me everything I know, we wouldn’t be here today.”
The Golden Eagles finished the game with 12 hits and just four Oley Valley batters reached base. Senior Blaine Hoover, who went 2-for-3 and scored a run, said Tyrone prepared for the 1:30 p.m. start time earlier this week.
“We had two good practices in the middle of the afternoon, just to get a feel for how it would be at gametime,” Hoover said. “I think it really helped us.”
Soellner was struggling to find the words to describe his emotions after the biggest moment in Tyrone’s baseball history, joking it may take a year for him to figure it out, as he clutched his gold medal.
“This is my sixth year, and when I started my goals were more along the lines of winning a District 6 championship with the program where it was and getting us up to that level,” Soellner said. “My personal goal was always to win 20 games, because I thought that would get us to where we needed to be, but every game after 20, I said, ‘oh, I meant 21 or 22,’ but to truly believe we won this is probably going to take some time to set in.”
OLEY VALLEY (0): Stanhardt p-ss 300, Solley c 300, Reifsnyder 3b 300, Blankenbiller 1b 302, Petersen ss-2b 200, MacDonald 2b 301, Hoffman p 000, Knowles cf 000, Myford dh 300, Vaccaro lf 200, McMullen rf 100. Totals — 23-0-3.
TYRONE (5): Hunter cf 322, Shultz ss 412, Lucas 3b 411, Gampe 1b 301, Coleman p 401, Buck c 000, Brooks dh 401, Lang 2b 300, LeGars rf 302, Hoover lf 312. Totals — 31-5-12.
SCORE BY INNINGS
Oley Valley 000 000 0 — 0 3 2
Tyrone 102 200 X — 5 12 0
E–Petersen 2. LOB–Oley Valley 4, Tyrone 10. 2B–Gampe. 3B–Shultz, LeGars. RBI–Lucas 2, Hunter, Gampe. HBP–Hunter (by Hoffman). SAC–Petersen. SB–MacDonald, Hunter, Hoover, Shultz.
Oley Valley: Standhardt (L)–3 1/3 IP, 10 H, 5 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 75 pitches. Hoffman–2 2/3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 0 K, 37 pitches.
Tyrone: Coleman (W)–7 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 10 K, 107 pitches.
Umpires: Federico Orozco, Daniel Yost, David Opanowski, George Myford.
Records: Oley Valley (21-6); Tyrone (22-4)