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Loyalsock tops Hughesville in D4 playoffs

May 25, 2012 - Mitch Rupert
By MITCH RUPERT

mrupert@sungazette.com

LOYALSOCK รค Kyle Datres had a clear path to home plate. With the ball dying in the shoe-top high grass in the outfield, there was no chance for Hughesville right-fielder Brady Kimble to throw out Loyalsock's fleet-footed leadoff hitter before he reached home.

After Datres passed his head coach, who was windmilling with his arm to signal Datres to take home, Eck bent over at the waist and pumped his fist. It was only one run, the first of six the Lancers scored in their 6-1 win over Hughesville on Friday in the teams' District 4 Class AA baseball semifinal. But Eck knew his team needed a good start.

And facing an unfamiliar pitcher like Hughesville's John Poust, who didn't throw against the Lancers in either of their two regular season matchups, Eck wasn't sure what kind of start he'd get. Truth be told, the Lancers' head coach was shocked Hughesville head coach Casey Waller used Poust as his starting pitcher.

Eck was aware Waller scouted the Lancers during the final of the Backyard Brawl two weeks ago when Montoursville left-hander Teigan Herlehy tossed six innings of three-hit ball at Loyalsock in relief. So Eck thought for sure the Lancers would see Hughesville left-hander Josh Saar. When that wasn't the case, he had his team be patient at the plate, make sure they were hitting the pitch they wanted to hit.

It led to a three-run first inning that Hughesville never recovered from. Poust lasted just 2/3 of an inning, throwing 28 pitches before he was pulled in favor of Justin Lambert, who Waller was hesitant to use after throwing in the Spartans' playoff-opening win against Troy on Tuesday.

"I felt Poust has pitched for us this year," Waller said. "Nobody knows much about him, he just didn't have it (Friday)."

"Give our guys credit. We talk about getting out to quick starts on good teams," Eck said. "We had a couple great hits and put it together there."

Loyalsock had six of its nine hits in the first two innings, scoring five of its six runs as it sent 16 batters to the plate in the first two innings. Zack Clark had an RBI single in the first, scoring Datres on the play that had Eck pumping his fist. He followed it up with an RBI triple in the second inning to score Jimmy Webb.

Robbie Kline had an RBI single in the first and Luke Glavin added an RBI double in the second inning. If it wasn't enough that Hughesville was staring at the Mt. Everest of comebacks against one of the district's top pitchers in Datres, they lost leadoff hitter Jesse Hulien with a separated shoulder in the second inning.

He made a long run from right-center to left-center to track down Clark's eventual triple. But as he reached up and missed the ball, he stumbled and fell hard on his shoulder. He left the game and walked to the bus after the game in a sling.

Clark's big day (2 for 3, 2 RBIs) came a day after taking extra batting practice with his dad.

"I thought I was seeing the ball real well," Clark said. "The last couple games I felt like I was having trouble with my swing. So I decided to get some extra work in and that was the outcome."

"We got behind the 8-ball again," Waller said. "It seems like in 19 of our 21 games in the first inning we always start from behind and you can't do that against a good ballclub."

The five runs the Lancers' offense spotted Datres was plenty, even on a day where he didn't have his best stuff. The hard-throwing, freshman right-hander walked three, hit another and ran eight three-ball counts in the 29 batters he faced. But he allowed just two hits, struck out five, and always seemed to be able to come up with a big pitch when he needed it.

Datres struggled to keep the ball down throughout much of the game and threw 59 pitches through the first three innings. He stranded a runner at second in the second inning when he picked up a strikeout with a 2-2 curveball. He responded after two-out walks in the third and fourth by getting a harmless pop-up and a four-pitch strikeout.

And with the Spartans trying to mount a rally in the seventh, Datres left runners at the corners with a routine ground ball to second base. He struck out just five yesterday, but an infield defense that has been shaky at times this year was brilliant behind him. After bad throw on a tough first-inning play, third baseman Luke Glavin was flawless in five chances the rest of the game, despite being forced to charge high-hoppers, slow rollers and stay back on balls hit deep to third.

"We worked on our defense all week long," Datres said. "My brother (assistant coach Kory Datres) talked to the infielders and said the talk around town is that the infield is our weak point. But we didn't let that happen (Friday). They came out ready to play and they had my back. My defense was everywhere."

"We can't go out there and expect (Datres) to have 11, 14 or 15 strikeouts every time. It'd be nice, but we can't expect that," Eck said. "We have guys that can play defense and play great defense in the infield. We preach all the time to just make the routine play and make a special play every once in a while. We told (Datres) to let (Hughesville) hit. Pitch to contact and we'll go get the ball for you."

Hughesville had baserunners in six of their seven times at-bat, but only had a hit in the second and seventh innings. Waller wanted his offense to jump on pitches early to avoid getting deep in the count and having to face Datres' yellow hammer curveball.

But it didn't take long for Waller to realize his offense's best shot at getting runners on base was to get into deep counts and try to work walks. The only problem was that after throwing 58 pitches in the first three innings, Datres threw just 36 in the next three innings. Datres worked around a two-out walk in the fourth and a one-out hit batter in the sixth.

"He pitched a nice game and he didn't have his best stuff," Waller said. "He was always working from behind. He's got that competitive nature in him that he's going to find a way to get it done. Tip your hat to a guy like that."

"He ended up with a two-hitter and he didn't have his best stuff. He was up to 83, 84 (miles per hour) in the first couple innings, and as low as 76, 75 in the last couple and we were a little concerned," Eck said. "But we know what we're going to get from Kyle Datres. When I fill out the lineup card and know Kyle Datres is going out there, I usually take a deep breath and feel better knowing he'll be out there because he's going to give a great effort."

Hughesville 010 000 0 - 1 2 1

Loyalsock 320 001 x - 6 9 1

John Poust, Justin Lambert (1), Josh Saar (6) and J.D. Sones, Poust (1). Kyle Datres and Bailey Young.

W-Datres. L-Poust.

Top Hughesville hitters: Tyler Potts, 1-2, run; Jeremiah McCarty, 1-3, RBI.

Top Loyalsock hitters: Kyle Datres, 2-3, singles, inside-the-park home run, RBI, 2 runs; Jimmy Webb, 2-3, 2 runs; Zack Clark, 2-3, triple, 2 RBIs, 2 runs; Luke Glavin, 1-3, double, RBI; Ethan Moore, 1-3.

 
 

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