SIDMAN — Despite losing five starters from last year’s state championship team, the Tyrone baseball team knew it would have an even bigger target on its back once playoffs rolled around than it did during the regular season.
The Golden Eagles pounded Forest Hills throughout the game, but then had to fight off a pesky Rangers rally in the bottom of the seventh inning.
FH put up four runs in the seventh, but Tyrone was able to get the final out with the winning run on first base to advance with a 10-8 victory in District 6 Class 3A quarterfinal action on Thursday.
“Some of them haven’t felt the pressure, but they also witnessed it and were in the dugout when it happened (last year),” Tyrone coach Kevin Soellner said. “I think that helps — definitely with the confidence part of it. But to go out now and be the guys to do it, is a little different. We lost five (starters).”
Tyrone began the final at-bat for the Rangers with a 10-4 edge but quickly found itself in an uncomfortable situation.
Kirk Bearjar, Devin Kreger, Tyler Orris and Brook Williamson started the inning with singles with Williamson’s scoring Bearjar.
Golden Eagle relief pitcher Luke Brooks got Dayton Maul and Devon Brezovec to strike out before Forest Hills began a two-out rally.
Lead-off hitter Colby Rearick singled home Kreger and Orris to make the score 10-7.
With Ross Gampe coming in to pitch for Tyrone, Brody Roberts reached on a throwing error. Williamson scored, Rearick moved to third and Roberts to second on the overthrow.
“It was just us not handling the pressure. I thought we felt it a little bit,” Soellner said. “… Hopefully, this will help us for the next one.”
Soellner intentionally walked Colton Cornell to load the bases, and Gampe got Bearjar, who swung at the first offering, to ground to Brooks just a few steps to the right of second base. Brooks flipped to second to record the final out.
“We have hitters up and down the lineup, and we were taking the first pitch,” Forest Hills coach Joe Carpenter said about his team’s seventh inning. “Some of those big guys at the end I didn’t want to get them in the hole — I wanted to give them a shot if they liked the first pitch … We had the base-runners, and we had a chance there at the end with our No. 4 hitter up. A base hit, you’re at least tied. I turned him (Bearjar) loose on that first pitch, but he just didn’t get a hit. That’s the way it goes.”
Tyrone began the contest by going down 1-2-3 on just five pitches against Forest Hills starter Cornell.
The Golden Eagles got to the Rangers’ ace in the second as Aiden Coleman singled, Gampe doubled and Brooks knocked them both in with a single up the middle.
“I just think they (Tyrone) focused a little better. They always get too antsy. If you looked, they were swinging at every first pitch,” Soellner said. “They did start taking a few first pitches. If there was an adjustment, they did it on their own. They know what we want.”
In the third, Tyrone pushed across three runs with two outs as Gampe blasted a home run to center, which scored Zac Legars and Coleman.
The three-run homer made the score 5-2 as FH had gotten two runs of its own in the bottom half of the second as Kreger hit a solo shot and Williamson crossed the plate on an RBI ground out by Chase Williamson.
The Rangers got another in the third as Cornell singled and scored on a Kreger ground-out.
The Eagles got one in the fourth and three more in the fifth as Brooks doubled in Gampe, Cortlynd Rhoades doubled Brooks home and then came around to score when Ranger catcher Brook Williamson tried to pick him off third base but instead threw the ball into the outfield on what would be the eventual winning run.
“We have talented kids, and we have a lot of heart,” Carpenter said. “… This (game) was not indicative of most of our season. Our pitchers were really stout most of the year, and our defense, we hit cutoffs. We did some things that were uncharacteristic today and gave them (Tyrone) extra runs. They’re defending state champions, so we knew it was going to be a tough game.”
Cornell homered to left field in the fifth to make the score 9-4 before Legars hit a sacrifice fly to left field that scored David Lang, who had reached on a double and advanced to third on a passed ball.
The sixth-seeded Golden Eagles will host their semifinal game on Tuesday at 4 p.m. as seventh-seeded Penns Valley upset Philipsburg-Osceola, the two seed, 9-6.
TYRONE (10): Walk 2b-ss 310, Lang lf 412, LeGars p-rf 100, Patterson cr 010, A. Coleman dh 422, Gampe ss-p 232, Lehner 3b 300, Brooks rf-p-2b 412, Rhoades 1b 311, Hamer c 300, Yingling ph 100. Totals — 28 10 9.
FOREST HILLS (8): Rearick cf 502, Roberts 2b 301, C. Cornell p-3b 422, Bearjar dh-p-1b 513, Kreger 1b-rf 423, Vranich rf 000, Orris ss 411, B. Williamson c 403, N. Cornell cr 010, Maul rf 301, Burda cr-p 110, C. Williamson lf 300, Brezovec ph 100. Totals — 36 8 16.
SCORE BY INNINGS
Tyrone 023 131 0–10 9 1
Forest Hills 021 010 4–8 16 2
E–Brooks, Maul, B. Williamson. 2B–Gampe, Brooks, Rhoades, Lang, B. Williamson, Bearjar, Rearick, Kreger. HR–Gampe, Kreger, C. Cornell. RBI–Brooks 3, Gampe 3, Rhoades, LeGars, Rearick 2, Kreger 2, C. Williamson, C. Cornell, B. Williamson. SB–A. Coleman, Rhoades, Walk, Roberts. PB–B. Williamson. HBP–Walk (by Bearjar).
LeGars (W) –4 innings, 9 H, 2 K, 1 BB, 4 R, 4 ER, 72 pitches.
Brooks — 2ª innings, 7 H, 2 K, 0 BB, 4 R, 4 ER, 60 pitches.
Gampe (S) — • inning, 0 H, 0 K, 0 BB, 0 R, 0 ER, 3 pitches.
C. Cornell (L) — 3 innings, 5 H, 1 K, 2 BB, 5 R, 5 ER, 53 pitches.
Bearjar — 1• innings, 3 H, 0 K, 2 BB, 4 R, 3 ER, 27 pitches.
Burda — 2ª innings, 1 H, 1 K, 1 BB, 1 R, 1 ER, 32 pitches
Records: Tyrone (11-7); Forest Hills (16-4).