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Lineup switches key Golden Eagles to big victory over Juniata Valley

It’s not difficult to put the lack of pop in Tyrone’s lineup this season into perspective.
A year ago, it took the Golden Eagles all of two games to record their first home run. In the first eight games, they scored 10 or more runs four times.
Going into yesterday’s Game No. 8, Tyrone had reached double-digit scoring just once, and none of the Eagles’ batters had gone deep.
But that was the least of their concerns. After a week-long four-game losing streak – when the Eagles managed just 17 hits, one of which went for extra-bases – most Tyrone batters would have been happy enough to find the outfield grass, let alone hit one over the fence.
With that in mind, senior Tyler Golden looked pretty comfortable against Juniata Valley when he trotted around the bases for the first time since May 10, 2006 after depositing a Nate Burkey fastball over the fence in centerfield to extend a 6-4 Tyrone lead in the sixth inning to 9-4 with one swing.
Golden’s bomb was the final nail in the coffin for the Hornets, who could never crack starter Jamie Levinson for the same kind of big hit. Tyrone went on to win 12-4 and even its record at .500 (4-4, 2-3 MAC Division III) following one of the more frustrating eight-day periods in recent program history.
And as much as it was highlighted by the round-tripper, it was set up by some rather drastic changes in Tyrone’s batting order. Golden drove in four runs and had two hits from the five-spot, the deepest he’s hit in the Eagles’ lineup in three years. Justin Schopp, who started the season as Tyrone’s leadoff hitter, was dropped to the nine-hole and went 2-for-3 with a sacrifice and two RBI.
The other major switch was the insertion of freshman second baseman Doug Rudy into the order. After dressing for his first varsity game last Friday against Claysburg-Kimmel, going 0-for-2 with a run, Rudy made his first start and hit leadoff, going 2-for-4 with two RBI.
“We’re still trying to find that order with the right chemistry,” said Tyrone manger Tom Coleman. “Rudy did a good job of taking that leadoff spot and making things happen. He really sparked us and I think the team fed off him.”
If the team fed off Rudy, it labored for Levinson, who pieced together the Eagles’ first complete game of the season. He struck out seven – three in the final inning – and scattered eight hits while surrendering four earned runs. Perhaps more importantly, his teammates went without a fielding error, another first for the Eagles.
“He really kept them off balance and gave us a much-needed seven innings, with us having to play five games this week,” Coleman said. “He took control early and got us outs.”
Tyrone put singles on the board in the first and third, with Donnie Hunter scoring on a Tyler Gillmen single and Golden plating Johnny Shaffer with a sacrifice fly out to right. But it was in the middle innings when the Eagles made their push.
In the fourth, with Matt Brooks on third and Schopp on second, Rudy delivered a single up the middle to make it 4-0.
Valley responded in the bottom of the frame with a pair of runs on an RBI single by Billy Weyer and a run-scoring groundout by Zach Myers to make it 4-2. Tyrone then went up 6-2 in the fifth when Justin Schopp turned a roller deep into the hole at short into a 2-RBI, two-out infield single, thanks to heads-up base running by Aaron Cunningham, who was able to score on the play from second.
But Valley wouldn’t go away, and in the bottom of the frame the Hornets again pulled within two on RBI singles by Joe Basil and Burkey.
But Golden’s home run in the sixth ignited a five-run inning that had Tyrone ahead 11-4. Brooks and Schopp each hit safely to drive in runs in the frame.
“Hopefully, this is something we can build on,” said Coleman. “It was a good team effort.”
Tyrone travels today to Vets Field for a 4 p.m. game against Bishop Guilfoyle, one of the teams that contributed to the Eagles skid with a 6-0 win last week at Tyrone. In that one, the Eagles managed just six hits.
TYRONE 12 JUNIATA VALLEY 4
TYRONE – Rudy, 2b, 4-0-2; Moore, 2b, 0-0-0; Hunter, lf, 3-1-0; Wilburn, ph, 0-1-0; Shaffer, 1b, 2-2-0; Gillmen, dh, 5-1-3; Romano, rf, 0-0-0; Golden, ss, 4-1-2; Levinson, 4-1-1; Anders, c, 2-1-0; Cunningham, cr-cf, 0-1-0; Decker, c-cr, 1-1-0; Brooks, 3b, 4-2-2; Schopp, cf, 3-1-2. TOTALS: 32-12-13.
JUNIATA VALLEY – Devore, 1b, 4-1-2; Peterson, ss, 3-1-1; Basil, cf, 3-0-1; Walker, 3b, 3-1-1; Burkey, p-rf, 2-1-1; Foster, rf, 1-0-0; Myers, rf-p, 3-0-1; Weyer, 2b, 3-0-1; Hack, c, 0-0-0; Bigelow, dh, 3-0-0; Smith, lf, 2-0-0; Mohnkern, ph, 1-0-0; Duran, lf, 0-0-0. TOTALS: 29-4-8.
TYRONE 101 225 1 – 12-13-0
JUNIATA VALLEY 000 220 0 – 4- 8 -2
2B: Levinson
HR: Golden
RBI: Rudy 2, Gillmen, Golden 4, Schopp 3, Brooks, Basil, Burkey, Weyer, Myers
K: Levinson 7, Burkey 3, Myers 1
BB: Levinson 4, Burkey 6, Myers 2
WP: Levinson LP: Burkey