As soon as the Bowman Field lights went on, Loyalsock pitcher Kyle Datres started overpowering hitters more than at any other point Saturday.
It probably was a coincidence, but it served as a fitting reminder. When the games are big, when the pressure is high and went the spot light shines his way, Datres is at his best. He proved it time after time as day turned into night at Bowman Field while leading Loyalsock to wins over South Williamsport and Montoursville.
Datres earned the save in a 4-3 opening-game win, then threw five brilliant innings while striking out nine as Loyalsock defeated Montoursville, 3-1 in the final and captured its first Backyard Brawl championship. Datres allowed no earned runs in 8 2/3 innings and struck out 11 while going 2 for 2 in the championship.
"I never get nervous. Ever since I was young I've been thrown in big games. If you play nervous, you play scared and nothing good will ever come from that," Datres said. "I always like a challenge. It's no fun without one."
Datres had plenty Saturday and not just because South and Montoursville have 25 combined wins. He entered with runners on first and second and one out in a one-run game against South before striking out the next batter and picking a runner off second, running him down himself. The freshman right-hander then ended the game by starting a double play with a nice stop up the middle.
Pitching in the final was what Datres wanted later and he thrived under the pressure, stranding runners on second and third with one out in the first inning and throwing four scoreless innings after Andrew Null had put Montoursville ahead 1-0 with a RBI single. He also picked off a runner in that game, scored two runs and struck out nine.
"Kyle Datres is a gamer and it just seems like he's always in that position to get you that one you need," Loyalsock coach Jeremy Eck said. "His mentality is, 'Can I have the ball coach because I want to go out there and lead my team.' To have a guy like that as a freshman that speaks volumes about his character and the type of leader and player that he is and is going to be."
Loyalsock has another stellar freshman in Luke Glavin and he slammed the door on Montoursville (10-6) in the sixth and seventh innings. The hard-throwing right-hander pitched two hitless innings and retired the last three hitters with the tying run at the plate each time.
Glavin went 3 for 3 with a RBI against South and clinched the win with an emphatic strikeout. Glavin pumped his fist as Loyalsock players sprinted out of the dugout and swarmed him. Minutes later they were hoisting a trophy that no team in this proud program's history ever had before.
"It meant a lot to our seniors. It's their last chance at it and we got it done for them," Datres said. "Now we have to finish out the year strong and come back next year and see if we can do it again."
Teigan Herlehy did everything possible to prevent Loyalsock (16-2) from winning that elusive championship. The sophomore pitched three innings in a Milton JV tournament Saturday morning then entered in the bottom of the first with the bases loaded and no outs. All he did after that was allow just one run and three hits against one of the area's best offenses.
The left-hander displayed excellent poise, worked his pitches inside and outside and had Loyalsock off-balance all night. The Lancers opened the bottom of the first with four straight walks to tie it and went ahead to stay on a Robbie Kline walk but Herlehy was brilliant after entering a difficult situation and surrendered only a Zack Clark fourth-inning RBI single the rest of the way.
"He came in and did a phenomenal job. Going that long with Loyalsock and only giving up a few runs. We were very impressed with his performance," Montoursville coach Travis Wurster said. "He's definitely going to be a guy we go to in the future."
Montoursville earned its way into the final when Alec Rothrock pitched great in relief, twice leaving the bases loaded with no outs twice. Both times he left the go-ahead runners on base in the fifth and seventh innings as Montoursville defeated Williamsport, 6-4.
The Warriors trailed 1-0 entering the fifth but scored six times in their next two at-bats to go up 6-2. Pierce Ranck hit a go-ahead two-run double and went 3 for 4 with three RBI while Andrew Null went 4 for 4 with a RBI double. It was an especially big win over a good team since Montoursville clinched a playoff berth.
"That was the big thing about that first game. That's awesome," Wurster said. "From starting 5-5 and nobody believing in us and to be where we're at now it's a testament to our kids and the heart and desire they have."
Sadiq Burkholder pitched a brilliant six-hit complete-game, leading Williamsport to a 7-4 win over South Williamsport in the day's consolation game. Burkholder threw the first complete game of his varsity career and has been outstanding in consecutive Brawls, earning a win and a save.
"It was exciting because this is a big stage to perform on so you want to go out there and do well every time," Burkholder said. "I started this year slow so I've wanted to show that I've matured and grown."
Williamsport (9-6) took advantage of some South defensive mistakes in the second inning, scoring five runs and eventually taking a 6-0 lead. Ryan Hostrander hit a two-run single in the five-run second while Sam VanDeLinde made some good plays at third base and reached base in his final five tournament at-bats.
South pulled within three twice but could get no closer despite Caleb Catherine's outstanding pitching. Catherine entered in the third with South (15-3) down 6-0 and allowed just one run and three hits over the final three innings. He also struck out five and consistently pounded the strike zone.
"Caleb comes in down six and pitches great and keeps us in the game and gives us a chance to win. That's all you can ask for," South coach Shawn Finn said. "We showed some fight and I was happy about that. We've lost a few but we'll use it as a learning experience and come out ready for the next game."
Kyle Eck had two hits for South (15-3), which cut a three-run deficit to one in the fifth inning when Alex Carpenter and Ryan Orgitano hit consecutive singles against Loyalsock. Clark pitched 5 1/3 strong innings for Loyalsock, earning the win and striking out eight. He also went 2 for 4 with a RBI triple and gave the Lancers a lift entering the championship.
"I'm extremely proud of these guys for battling," Eck said. "Playing here under the lights with the big crowd and people yelling and screaming all over the place, it doesn't get much better than that. We knew we had to come out and play great ball."
Loyalsock100 120 0 -4 9 2
South000 120 0-3 6 0
Zack Clark, Kyle Datres (6) and Bailey Young. Alex Carpenter, Cal Missigman (6) and Kyle Eck. W-Clark, (4-1). L-Carpenter, (5-1). SV-Datres, (1).
Top Loyalsock hitters: Jimmy Webb 1-2, 2B; Clark 2-4, 3B, RBI; Luke Glavin 3-3, RBI, R. Top South hitters: Eck 2-3; Brandon Gantz 1-3, 2 RBI; Ryan Origtano 1-2, RBI, R; Tyler House 1-1.
Montoursville000 042 0-6 12 1
Williamsport100 010 2-4 6 2
Christian Clark, Alec Rothrock (5) and Andrew Null. Ryan Hostrander, Kyle Hoover (5), Gabe Rader (6) and Joe Cassidy. W-Clark, (4-2). L-Hostrander, (2-2). SV-Rothrock (3).
Top Montoursville hitters: Pierce Ranck 3-4, 2B, 3 RBI, SB; Null 4-4, 2B, RBI; Zach Pepperman 2-2, R. Top Williamsport hitters: Hostrander 2-4, 2B, 2 RBI; Jett Bartholomew 2-3, R; Ben Myers 1-1, RBI.
Williamsport051 010 0-7 7 3
South003 010 0-4 6 2
Gantz, Caleb Catherine (3) and Eck. Sadiq Burkholder and Joe Cassidy. W-Burkholder, (3-2). L-Gantz, (6-1).
Top Williamsport hitters: Ian Miller 1-1, 2B, RBI; Hostrander 1-3, 2 RBI; Sam VanDeLinde 1-1, 2 R. Top South hitters: Caleb Catherine 2-4, 2 R; Orgitano 1-3, RBI; Eck 1-3, RBI.
Records: Williamsport 9-6. South 15-3.
Montoursville100 000 0-1 5 1
Loyalsock 200 100 x-3 3 3
Null, Teigen Herlehy (1) and Dalton Young, Null (1). Datres, Luke Glavin (6) and Young. W-Datres, (6-0). L-Null, (2-1). SV-Glavin (1).
Top Montoursville hitters: Null 1-4, RBI; Aaron Cole 1-2. Top Loyalsock hitters: Datres 2-2, 2 R, 2 SB; Clark 1-3, RBI.
Records: Loyalsock 16-2. Montoursville 10-6.