SIDMAN — The Tyrone Golden Eagles baseball team is on a mission.
After knocking off fourth-seeded Westmont Hilltop in the quarterfinals of the District 6 Class 3A tournament last week, Tyrone played the role of giant slayer in a monumental way on a glorious, sunny Thursday afternoon, riding timely hitting and outstanding pitching to a 3-2 semifinal victory over top-seeded Forest Hills on the Rangers’ home field.
The win advances Tyrone (12-10) into Monday’s 4 p.m. championship game against third-seeded Philipsburg-Osceola at Sargent’s Stadium at the Point in Johnstown, and also guarantees the Golden Eagles a berth in the PIAA playoffs.
P-O punched its ticket to the district championship game, and a berth in the state playoffs, by mercy-ruling second-seeded Central, 18-3, in five innings in Thursday’s other semifinal.
Tyrone scored twice in the top of the first inning Thursday and made the lead hold up behind the combined five-hit pitching of senior right-handers Caiden Bonsell and Ross Gampe.
“This is obviously a big win for us,” Tyrone coach Kevin Soellner said. “Forest Hills is legitimately ranked, but we definitely believed we could win this game, and it came to fruition today.
“Our pitching has gotten us to this point, but our hitting also came through for us today,” Soellner added.
Tyrone jumped on top right away, scoring two runs almost immediately in the top of the first inning.
Senior center fielder Zac LeGars opened with a single to left field against Forest Hills senior right-handed pitcher Jeremy Burda, and scored on a double to the left-centerfield gap by sophomore shortstop Ashton Walk.
Gampe then bounced a single up the middle to score Walk, giving Tyrone the quick 2-0 lead.
Forest Hills scored an unearned run in the bottom of the first inning when Chase Williamson reached on a single and crossed home plate on a two-out error, but Tyrone got that run back in the top of the third inning when LeGars crushed a Burda fast ball over the leftfield fence to give the Eagles a 3-1 lead.
“I was looking for a fast ball down the middle there, and I was ready for it,” said LeGars, who was a member of Tyrone’s District 6 and PIAA state championship team two years ago as a sophomore. “It’s real exciting to be going to another district championship game, and, win or lose there, we’ll be getting a chance to compete in the state playoffs.”
Bonsell allowed only three hits and two runs – only one of which was earned – in four-plus innings, before leaving the mound after Colby Rearick led off the fifth inning with a double, Rearick was wild-pitched to third, and Brody Roberts drew a walk.
Gampe came on in relief and worked out of the jam to preserve Tyrone’s lead. Chase Williamson grounded into a forceout as Rearick scored, and after Brooks Williamson singled, moving Chase Williamson to second, Devin Kreger lined a fly ball to center field that LeGars caught.
Chase Williamson was leaning between second and third on the flyout, and LeGars zipped a throw to second baseman Kendall Lehner that completed a big double play to end the inning with Tyrone maintaining a 3-2 advantage.
“They were starting to gain momentum, and that double play shifted the momentum back in our favor,” Gampe said. “It was pretty pivotal for us. I thought we really came together as a team and everybody did their individual jobs today.
“Forest Hills has an excellent offensive team, but we did a good job of limiting the damage against them,” Gampe added.
Gampe, who carried a 1.72 season earned run average into the game, retired six of the last seven batters that he faced as Tyrone pulled off the upset victory.
Thursday marked just the second time in 21 games this year that Forest Hills lost, but this one really stung.
“Seeing our season end here after getting the number one seed and winning 19 games is devastating,” Forest Hills coach Joe Carpenter said. “The Tyrone pitchers and players deserve credit. They made the plays today.
“Gampe and Bonsell on the mound, and LeGars at the bat – their studs came through,” Carpenter added.
Tyrone faces another stiff challenge in Monday’s district championship game against P-O, which defeated the Golden Eagles twice during the regular season.
“We’ll have our work cut out for us,” Soellner said.
TYRONE (3): LeGars cf 322, Walk ss 311, Gampe 1b-p 201, C. McClure 1b 000, Hamer c 300, Coleman rf 300, Miller lf 300, B. McClure 3b 301, Lehner 2b 301, Bonsell p 000, J. Patterson dh 300. Totals – 26-3-6.
FOREST HILLS (2): Brody Roberts 2b-p 300, C. Williamson lf 411, B. Williamson c 201, Kreger 1b 200, Orris ss 300, Cornell 3b 301, Burda p 000, Bryce Roberts dh 200, Maul lf 300, Rearick cf 312. Totals – 25-2-5.
SCORE BY INNINGS
Tyrone 201 000 0–3-6-1
Forest Hills 100 010 0–2-5-0
E–B. McClure. 2B–Walk, Rearick. HR–LeGars. RBI–Walk, Gampe, LeGars, C. Williamson. SB–Gampe 2, Lehner, Rearick. CS–Cornell (Hamer to Lehner). HBP–Gampe (by Burda); Kreger (by Bonsell); B. Williamson (by Bonsell); Bryce Roberts (by Gampe). DP–Tyrone turned one double play (LeGars to Lehner on fly ball hit by Kreger).
Tyrone: Bonsell 4+IP, 3H, 2R, 1ER, 1BB, 1SO; Gampe (SV) 3IP, 1H, 0R, 0ER, 0BB, 0SO.
Forest Hills: Burda (L) 3IP, 5H, 3R, 3ER, 0BB, 4SO; Brody Roberts 4IP, 1H, 0R, 0ER, 0BB, 3SO.
Records: Tyrone (12-10); Forest Hills (19-2).
Umpires: Brent Dorofey (plate); Seth Matthews (first base); Ron Goisovich (third base).
Time of game: 1:34.
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