Winning Tyrone pitcher adds to his family legacy
UNIVERSITY PARK — Oley Valley got a taste of professional-level pitching prior to Thursday’s PIAA Class 3A championship game against Tyrone.
Lynx head coach Nate Reed, the 2018 Atlantic League Pitcher of the Year, who is still only 33 years old and is considering a return to playing with the Lancaster Barnstormers, threw to his team Wednesday in practice.
Reed, a left-handed pitcher who was drafted by the Seattle Mariners in 2010, was trying to prepare his team for Golden Eagles junior lefty Aiden Coleman, who can hit 90 miles per hour on a radar gun and is committed to Penn State.
It didn’t help.
Oley Valley fared much better in its session against Reed than it did Thursday as Coleman tossed a complete-game, three-hit shutout. He struck out 10 batters and walked just one in a dominating performance that led Tyrone to its first-ever PIAA baseball championship.
“He did phenomenal job,” Reed said. “He threw two pitches for strikes all game and elevated the ball well. I had confidence in our guys going in. I threw batting practice to them yesterday, and they hit me pretty well, but this was a little higher stage, a state championship, than a pregame practice.”
It was not surprising that Coleman was up for the moment. It’s in his blood.
Coleman’s father, Tommy, played for the only other two Golden Eagle teams to make it into the PIAA tournament in 1992 and 1993. Tyrone won its only District 6 championship in his junior year.
“I remind him all the time that his dad was pitcher on the mound getting the last three outs to win that district title,” Tommy Coleman said. “I told him, for him to be the starting pitcher in a state final is higher than I ever did with my 1992 and 1993 teams. I’m very proud of him, and he showed such great composure and control.”
His father can still stake his claim to being part of the only District 6 championship Tyrone team as the Golden Eagles entered this year’s state playoffs as the district runner-up, but Aiden Coleman likes the idea of being a state champion better.
“This gives me something to get on him about,” Aiden Coleman said. “This makes me at least better in some way, because he was probably the better ballplayer overall, but I can always say I have a state championship on him.”
The younger Coleman earned a save Monday against Central in the PIAA semifinals when he struck out Division I Radford-commit Devon Boyles with the tying run at first base in relief of Rodney Shultz in front of 2,433 fans at Peoples Natural Gas Field.
“After playing in the game against Central, nothing will beat that atmosphere,” Aiden Coleman said. “So, even coming here in a beautiful atmosphere at an amazing stadium in the state final, I didn’t feel any pressure. After beating Central, I just felt relaxed and went out there and pitched my game.”
Pitching on the same mound he’ll be throwing from in college didn’t hurt, either.
“It was definitely extra special to pitch that game here at Penn State,” Aiden Coleman said. “That’s what I was telling my boys before I went out to pitch. I told them this is going to be my home turf, and I wanted to start out on this mound on a good note.”
Coleman has shown flashes of his ability throughout the season with excellent performances against Philipsburg-Osceola in the regular season, Richland in the District 6 semifinals and Hopewell in the PIAA quarterfinals, but he’s also struggled with his control at times and entered the state final leading the Golden Eagles in walks allowed.
“When he pitches, we’re a little nervous which Aiden is coming,” Tyrone coach Kevin Soellner said. “But obviously it’s in him. Honestly, I think he could be the best pitcher in the state. I know there’s a lot of great pitching, but his stuff can be that good. He has to get his control figured out, but he did that today. He pounded the strike zone, and I had to kiss my assistant coach (Jim Lang), because I told him if (Coleman) threw a complete game, I would. And I owned up to it, too. Aiden’s stuff is phenomenal, and he can be untouchable if he’s on.”
Coleman was certainly on Thursday in the biggest start of his career, and it will be remembered for a long time in Tyrone.
“Before they were sent off from the high school on the bus, the coaches brought the kids into the lobby and pointed up on the wall above the trophy case at the big picture of the state championship football team (from 1999),” Tommy Coleman said. “They reminded them that they could be part of history and have a picture right next to them as the 2021 state champions. That makes it even more special, because people will walk through those halls for years to come and look at that picture and reminisce about how this team stuck together through a pandemic, beat a very good Central team and finished it off with a state title.”
And to top it off, it seems like Aiden will have bragging rights in the Coleman home.
“He’s one-upped me,” Tommy Coleman said. “It’s special seeing my son winning the state championship. I’m very proud of him.”
Michael Boytim can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 814-946-7521. Follow him on Twitter @BoytimMichael