|Good start Tyrone center fielder Aaron Cunningham singles to open the home half of the first inning at the Harry K. Sickler Athletic Complex on Thursday. (The Daily Herald/Bob Miller)|
It was the perfect situation for the Tyrone baseball team.
Tie game. Bases loaded. Bottom of the seventh inning.
With the game on the line, slugger Johnny Shaffer, who had ripped the ball in three previous at-bats and had nothing to show for it but a sacrifice flyout, stepped up to the plate. The only question was whether or not the junior first baseman would keep the ball in the park.
Turns out, he did. Shaffer got out in front of a delivery from Williamsburg pitcher Joe Fay and dribbled one to third, turning the most anti-climactic of plays into a celebration for the Golden Eagles. Randy Hoover was able to beat third baseman Nick Rusich’s throw home giving Shaffer the game-winning RBI and sending Tyrone to a 3-2 win at the Harry K. Sickler Athletic Park, its second in as many days.
“We needed something like this to help us gain our confidence,” said Golden Eagle manager Dustin Schoening. “We played some tough schools early, and we kept telling the kids things were going to get better. It’s good to get a couple in a row.”
It was, in fact, the first time the Eagles pieced together consecutive wins this season, and it kept alive their slim hopes of entering in the District 6-AA playoffs. Now 4-9, Tyrone can bolster its chances further with success today in a double-header on the road against Bellwood-Antis.
Hoover and Shaffer are the favorites to start the two games on the hill for Tyrone, and if they come anywhere close to what senior Matt Brooks did against the Pirates, chances are good the Eagles’ mini run can continue.
Brooks quietly dominated Williamsburg to the tune of 1 earned run and four strikeouts in seven innings of work. He allowed only three hits, did not walk a batter, and never allowed a runner past first base after the third inning.
“Brooks has pitched so well for us every time he’s gone out,” Schoening said. “It was great o see him get a win.”
In his other two starts, Brooks never allowed more than three earned runs, at the same time never receiving more than three runs of support. Last Friday against Juniata Valley, he went 7 2/3 innings without walking a batter, but still came away with a no-decision in the Eagles’ 4-3 extra-inning loss.
“He’s not overpowering, but he spots the ball well and he has excellent control,” said Schoening. “He also keeps the ball down, which is important.”
As good as he was, he was matched almost pitch for pitch by Pirates’ starter Joe Fay, a tough-luck loser who was tagged with the L despite allowing only five hits in just over six innings. He struck out three and surrendered only two earned runs, but he walked five, including two in the bottom of the seventh.
Hoover drew the first base on balls, and Aaron Cunningham beat out a sacrifice bunt attempt to put runners on first and third. After Cunningham stole second, the Pirates opted to intentionally walk Mike Moore, setting the table for Shaffer.
“It worked out pretty good,” said Schoening. “In that situation, I’ll take bases loaded with anybody on our team coming to the plate.”
Tyrone trailed 2-1 as late as the fifth inning but pulled even when Moore doubled to the gap in left-center, plating Hoover from second. More was stranded on second, one of six Golden Eagles left in scoring position.
The Pirates led 1-0 in the bottom of the first and took their 2-1 lead two innings later thanks to production from Nate Robley in the lead-off spot. He was hit by a pitch to start the game, stole two bases, and came home on an error by Moore at second base.
In the third, he reached on an error, stole second, and came home on a single by Toby Waite.
Tyrone manufactured a run of its own in similar fashion in the bottom of the first to tie it early on. Cunningham got on with an error, took second on an errant pick-off attempt by Fay, and stole third base. He later scored on Shaffer’s sacrifice fly to right.
The loss dropped Williamsburg to 5-8.
Tyrone’s double-header with B-A begins today at 3 p.m.
Tyrone 3 Williamsburg 2
Williamsburg – Robley, cf, 2-2-0; Waite, c, 3-0-1; Young, lf, 3-0-1; Rusich, 3b, 3-0-0; C. Miller, rf, 3-0-0; Cammarato, ss, 3-0-1; Brodie, 1b, 3-0-0; Fay, p, 3-0-0; M. Miller, 2b, 2-0-0. TOTALS: 25-2-3.
Tyrone – Cunningham, cf, 4-1-1; Moore, 2b, 3-0-1; Shaffer, 1b, 3-0-0; Taylor, dh, 3-0-0; Desch, rf, 0-0-0; Brooks, p, 3-0-0; Rudy, ss, 3-0-0; Hunter, lf, 1-0-1; Anders, c, 3-0-0; Hoover, 3b, 2-2-2. TOTALS: 25-3-5.
Williamsburg 101 000 0 2-3-5.
Tyrone 100 010 1 3-5-3.
E: Robley, Fay, Waite 2, Cammarato, Moore, Rudy 2 .
RBI: Moore, Shaffer 2, Young, Waite.
SO: Fay 3, Brooks 4.
BB: Fay 5, Brooks 0.
WP: Brooks LP: Fay