Tyrone manager Dustin Shoening’s observation that one big inning cost his team its season-opener yesterday against Philipsburg-Osceola was right on the money. The Mounties unloaded in the third inning yesterday at the Harry K. Sickler Athletic Complex and the Golden Eagles never folly recovered.
But the observation doesn’t indicate just how big an inning it was. P-O sent 12 players to the plate against Tyrone starter Johnny Shaffer, scoring seven runs on four hits. One player was hit by a pitch, three drew walks and one reached by way of an error. One player got on with a fluky infield single, another doubled on a weakly-hit ball that just found chalk down the left field line, and two others smokes singles to right.
In short, if there was a way to get on base and score runs, the Mounties found it in the third inning, and by the time it was over, P-O was ahead 8-0. The Mounties went on to win 15-6 in both teams’ season opener.
“It was 1-0, and the next thing I knew it was 8-0,” said Shoening. “That’s a quality team – the defending District champs.”
But while the Mounties were better than your average opening day opponent, the Eagles were, at times, willing victims, committing six errors, while striking out seven times, five times looking.
And then there were the little plays that often go unnoticed and uncharted in stat books – the Eagles missed four cutoff men, allowing base runners to advance.
Not the way you would ideally like to start the season.
Shaffer ended up with the loss in his first varsity start, allowing seven earned runs in three complete innings. Luke Curtis was the winner, allowing just one run over four innings while fanning four.
“You can only practice those plays so much in the gym,” Shoening said. “We worked on it, and then we get out here, and it’s just a matter of getting in a routine of being able to throw the right distance over and over.”
But there were positives, as well – none bigger than the push the Eagles made in the fifth inning to get back into the game when they were on the brink of being shut down by the 10-run mercy rule. Tyrone scored four runs and found itself one base hit away from pulling within one run.
Down 9-1, the inning started with Aaron Cunningham, Shaffer and Matt Brooks drawing walks off Bo Reifer, who came on in relief of Curtis. Catcher Brock Anders then drove in a pair with a base hit to center.
Donnie Hunter and Mike Moore each slapped run-scoring singles to right to cut the lead to 9-6 and put runners on second and third. But Matt Curtis came on to close the door, inducing a dribbler back to the mound off the bat of Randy Hoover before Cunningham flew out to center.
“We were one hit away from 9-8, and we were just a play or two away from being right in there,” said Shoening.
P-O responded with a five-run sixth, batting around for the second time in the game. Brandon Myers drove in a pair on sharp double to center of Hoover, and Zack Czap drove in his third run of the game with a single to left to make it 14-6.
P-O’s first big inning in the third started after Shaffer walked Colt Harris after getting ahead 0-2. The next two batters followed with singles to right, with Tim Gray’s poke plating a pair. Kody Bennett singled in a run later in the inning, and Czap added the capper with a two-run double on a floater down the left field line that managed to just stay in fair territory.
Czap finished 3-for-5 with two runs, one of four Mounties with multiple hits. Gray, Matt Curtis and Bennett each had two.
Moore, Hunter and Shaffer each had two hits for Tyrone.
Philipsburg-Osceola 15 Tyrone 6
Philipsburg-Osceola – Czap, c, 5-2-3; Minarchick, ph, 1-0-1; Gray, 2b, 4-2-2; Phillips, ph, 1-0-0; M. Curtis, ss-p, 2-3-2; L. Curtis, p-lf, 5-0-0; Bumbarger, 1b, 5-0-1; Lancaste, cr, 0-1-0; Bennett, 3b, 4-2-2; Hahn, dh-ss, 4-1-0; Reifer, lf-p, 0-0-0; Myers, rf, 4-2-1; Harris, cf, 1-2-0. TOTALS: 36-15-12.
Tyrone – Cunningham, cf, 2-2-0; Rudy, ss, 4-0-0; Shaffer, p-lf, 2-1-2; Brooks, 3b-p, 3-1-0; Anders, c, 2-0-1; Loose, cr, 0-1-0; Hunter, lf-rf, 4-1-2; Taylor, dh, 3-0-0; Desch, 1b, 0-0-0; Moore, 2b, 4-0-2; Brush, rf, 1-0-0; Hoover, p-3b, 3-0-0. TOTALS: 28-6-7.
Philipsburg-Osceola 107 105 1 – 15-12-2
Tyrone 001 050 0 – 6- 7- 5
E: Rudy, Moore 2, Cunningham, Hoover, L. Curtis 2
2B: Czap, M. Curtis, Myers
RBI: Czap 3, Gray 2, M. Curtis, L. Curtis, Bumbarger 2, Bennett, Hahn 2, Myers 2, Harris, Rudy, Anders 2, Hunter, Moore
SO: L. Curtis 4, Reifer 1, M. Curtis 1, Shaffer 1, Brooks 1.
BB: L. Curtis 3, Reifer 4, Shaffer 3, Hoover 5.
WP: L. Curtis LP: Shaffer