Power surge Tyrone junior John Shaffer, shown above swinging against Central earlier, belted two home runs and a double in Thursday’s 8-6 Golden Eagle win over BEA. (The Daily Herald/Bob Miller)
|Here’s a quick Tyrone baseball trivia question: heading into yesterday’s season finale against Bald Eagle Area, who was the Golden Eagles’ team leader in home runs?
The obvious choice would be junior Johnny Shaffer, who as a sophomore blasted four round trippers to go along with 23 RBI.
But the guess would be wrong, and the answer would demonstrate how sorely Tyrone was lacking in power this season. Second baseman Mike Moore, catcher Brock Anders and back-up catcher Chris Decker – who had zero career home runs coming into the season – all were tied for the team lead with one apiece.
That all changed yesterday in Wingate. Shaffer broke out of his long-ball slump just in time to lead the Eagles to an 8-6 nine-inning victory over the defending state champions – who had also wrapped up a No. 1 seed in this year’s District 6-AA playoffs.
The 6-foot-3 slugger went deep twice – once in the first inning to make it 1-0 and again in the ninth to put the Eagles ahead by two – snatching the team lead in home runs while allowing the Eagles to end the 2008 campaign with their biggest win of the season.
“It was nice to see Shaffer get a couple home runs,” said Tyrone manager Dustin Schoening, whose team finished 7-11 in his first year as the Eagles’ skipper. “His home run in the ninth was awesome. It was a huge hit. For this team to beat the defending state champs, who have only a couple losses and are the top seed in the playoffs, that’s big.”
Shaffer, who entered yesterday’s game batting a red-hot .433, finished 3-for-5 with 3 RBI and 2 runs. He also doubled to go along with his homers, giving him eight extra-base hits.
He was also able to pick up his second pitching victory of the season, coming on in the eighth and ninth innings in relief of starter Eric Desch, who pitched masterfully for seven innings. After allowing 4 earned runs in the first inning, Desch settled down to yield only two over the next six to give his team a shot.
Desch pitched out of several jams, including one in the seventh when BEA put runners on first and third with two outs. But a liner by Justin Koleno down the left field line was snagged by left fielder Donnie Hunter, who laid out in a full, diving stretch to make the catch that retired the side.
“Desch was on today,” said Schoening. “He gave up six runs, but four of them came in the first inning. After that, he really shut them down.”
After Shaffer put Tyrone up in the first inning, BEA responded in the bottom of the frame with three extra base hits to take a 3-run lead. John Schall and Joe Pillot doubled and Mike Etters drove in a run with a triple as Bald Eagle took a 4-1 lead.
Tyrone answered with four runs of its own in its next at-bat, with two runs coming when Mike Moore drove a double down the left field line to score Doug Rudy and Randy Hoover and put the Eagles up 5-4.
Designated hitter Jordan Taylor drove in a run with a sacrifice fly in the fourth, making it 6-4, before BEA tied it with runs in the fifth and sixth.
That’s how it stayed until the ninth, but not without some stellar defensive plays behind Desch. In the fifth, centerfielder Aaron Cunningham made a diving catch to save a run, and in the sixth right fielder Matt Brooks had two gems to keep Bald Eagle off the board. On the first, he made a running catch and threw to first to complete a double play, and on the second he made a diving grab to close the inning.
“Everyone played well,” said Schoening. “It was nice for the seniors to end their seasons and it was good to see some of the underclassmen get going.”
Six players had hits for the Eagles, who as a team also collected six extra base hits.
“We were hitting today,” Schoening said. “Everyone was really aggressive.
While Tyrone ended its season, BEA (13-6-1) will play Laurel Valley Monday in the District playoffs after receiving a bye through the first round this week.
“Who can say they ended the season by beating the defending state champion?” Schoening said. “That’s a team that won our league. We’re going into next year now knowing that we can do it.”
Tyrone 8 Bald Eagle Area 6
Tyrone – Rudy, ss, 3-2-0; Moore, 2b, 5-0-2; Shaffer, 1b-p, 5-2-3; Brooks, rf, 5-1-1; Anders, c, 4-1-3; Hunter, lf, 2-0-0; Desch, p, 0-0-0; Taylor, dh, 3-1-1; Hoover, 3b, 4-1-1; Cunningham, cf, 3-0-0. TOTALS: 34-8-11.
Bald Eagle Area – Schall, ss, 5-2-2; Koleno, 1b, 5-1-2; Pillot, lf, 4-1-3; Bryan, p, 0-0-0; Robinson, dh, 2-0-1; Gutshall, dh, 3-0-0; Noll, 2b, 4-0-1; Womer, lf, 3-1-0; Etters, 3b, 4-1-2; Lucas, c, 3-0-2; Gettis, cr, 0-0-0; Quick, cf, 5-0-2. TOTALS: 38-6-15.
Tyrone 141 000 002 – 8-11-1
Bald Eagle Area 400 110 000 – 6-15-2
2B: Moore, Shaffer, Anders 2, Schall
HR: Shaffer 2
RBI: Moore 2, Shaffer 3, Taylor 2, Cunningham, Koleno 2, Pillot, Robinson, Etters, Quick
WP: Desch LP: Schall