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Sheetz belts 15 hits in taking series opener

The Tyrone Legion baseball team brings a lot of street credibility to the table in this week’s George B. Kelley Federation championship series.

Tyrone Legion is the league’s two-time defending champion, and most of the players on the roster helped the Tyrone High School baseball team win the PIAA Class 3A state championship in June.

Sheetz used a big start in Wednesday night’s championship series opener, however, to at least temporarily take some of the wind out of Tyrone Legion’s sails.

Sheetz scored four runs on four hits and benefited from two Tyrone Legion errors in the top of the first inning en route to posting an 8-2 victory at Vets Field in the first game of the best-of-five title series.

Game 2 between the two teams is set for 7 p.m. tonight at Vets.

“There is definitely a lot of mutual respect between our team and the Tyrone Legion team,” said Sheetz manager Ben Shaffer. “Their coaches and players are a class act, they’re the two-time defending champions in this league, and they also won a PIAA state championship this year.

“It’s been a five-year battle in this league between us and them,” Shaffer added. “Tonight, we got out to a good start, our players got into hitter-friendly counts, made contact, and drove the ball well.”

Sheetz mounted a 15-hit attack against three Tyrone Legion pitchers.

Shortstop Aidan Steinbugl, who had three hits and drove in two runs, started the first-inning rally with a one-out single to center field against Tyrone starting pitcher Luke Brooks.

A single to center by Erik Rhodes moved Steinbugl to second, from where Steinbugl scored on another single to left by Jake Detwiler. Rhodes scored the second run of the inning on a subsequent throwing error on the play, and Detwiler moved to second, from where he scored on Kyle Wilson’s double to left.

Connor Lindsey was inserted as a courtesy runner for Wilson, and Lindsey scored the fourth run of the first inning on Dalton Gochnour’s sacrifice fly.

“We came out and really got the bats going very well, and that basically set the tone for the rest of the game,” Steinbugl said.

Tyrone Legion manager Kevin Soellner missed Wednesday night’s game after the death of his father, Max, earlier in the day. Jim Lang filled in for Soellner as manager Wednesday, and saluted the Sheetz hitting effort.

“They hit the ball real well and we hit the ball right at people,” Lang said.

Sheetz starting pitcher Wilson played a strong role in confounding the Tyrone Legion hitters. Wilson worked six solid innings, allowing six hits, only two runs, striking out one batter and walking just one.

“I wanted to execute my fast ball as well as I could, and I tried to throw my curve ball for strikes as much as possible,” said Wilson, a right-hander. “(Tyrone Legion) hit the ball straight at people, and my defense really helped me by making the plays.”

Sheetz (16-5 this season) committed just one error, while Tyrone Legion (15-7) made four.

“We weren’t as sharp in the field as we needed to be,” Lang said.

Tyrone Legion scored a run without the benefit of a hit in the bottom of the first inning, but Sheetz countered with a second-inning run on Steinbugl’s RBI single, then added two more in the sixth inning on another RBI single by Steinbugl and a run-scoring double from Rhodes to build a 7-2 lead.

Gochnour, who knocked in two runs in the game, drove home the final Sheetz run in the seventh inning on an infield groundout after Wilson had led off the inning with a double and moved to third on Michael Boston’s single.

Tyrone Legion will be trying to even the series tonight.

“We’ve got a lot of pride,” Lang said. “Our guys will be back.”

Game notes: League awards were presented prior to the game. Tyreke Green of ReMax Realty was named the league’s Most Valuable Player, and Cam Mauk of ReMax was named the Pitcher of the Year. Another ReMax player, Sam Carmel, earned the league’s Golden Glove Award for defense, and Mitchell Elias of Patton Legion was named the Rookie (Player) of the Year, while Joe Bukosky of Barton’s Plumbing and Heating was named the Rookie Pitcher of the Year. Aaron Carothers of Park Home won the Porter Sportsmanship Award.

SHEETZ (8): Yost 2b-cf 412, Steinbugl ss 523, Rhodes cf-p 412, Detwiler c 412, Ferguson cr 000, Wilson p 412, Lindsey cr 010, Boston 1b 401, Gochnour 3b 301, Zitsch lf 000, Shehan dh 400, Harbaugh lf 412. Totals – 36-8-15.

TYRONE LEGION (2): Hunter cf 210, Shultz ss 301, Gampe 1b 200, Lucas rf-p 301, A.J. Coleman rf-lf 101, Yingling rf 100, Brooks p-lf 300, Lang 2b 300, Crilly 2b 000, Lehner 3b-p 311, Light lf 100, Buck c 200, Walk eh 202. Totals – 26-2-6.

SCORE BY INNINGS

Sheetz 410 002 1–8 15 4

Tyrone Legion 100 010 0–2 6 1

E–Shultz, Coleman, Lehner, Light, Steinbugl. 2B–Wilson 2. 3B–Yost. RBI–Steinbugl 2, Gochnour 2, Rhodes, Detwiler, Wilson, Hunter. SB–Boston, Harbaugh, Hunter. SF–Gochnour. LOB–Sheetz 9, Tyrone Legion 5. DP–Sheetz turned one (Wilson to Steinbugl to Boston on a grounder by Lang).

PITCHING

Sheetz: Wilson (W) 6IP, 6H, 2R, 1ER, 1BB, 1SO; Rhodes 1IP, 0H, 0R, 0ER, 0BB, 1SO.

Tyrone Legion: Brooks (L) 5IP, 9H, 5R, 4ER, 0BB, 3SO; Lucas 1IP, 3H, 2R, 2ER, 0BB, 1SO; Lehner 1IP, 3H 1R, 1ER, 1BB, 0SO.

WP–Lang.

Umpires: Shaun McCready (plate); Bill Wolf (first base); Bob Seitz (third base).

Time of game: 1:38.

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