BLOOMSBURG - Ethan Moore never watched the biggest hit of his life land nearly 350 feet from home. He was too busy making a mad dash back there.
He graduated Friday night, but Moore wants to keep representing Loyalsock. He did his part in making that happen Saturday at Bloomsburg University.
Moore crushed a go-ahead, 2-run, fifth-inning triple and scored on the throw to third, providing Loyalsock with the big hit it so desperately needed while paving the way for a 9-5 Class AA state quarterfinal win over Delone Catholic. Moore's clutch hit and Kyle Datres's five scoreless innings sent Loyalsock to its third Eastern Region title game in four years and gave it its third 20-win season during that span.
Loyalsock’s Kyle Datres, shown pitching in relief Thursday vs. Delone Catholic, earned the win Saturday as the game was completed at Bloomsburg University.
"I knew I got it good and got enough to get it over his head and I just kept running," Moore said. "I've been waiting since that district final. I had a tough district game at the plate and that's been stuck on my shoulders and I feel like I got it off today. It feels good."
Loyalsock (20-3) returns to Bloomsburg at 1 on Monday and plays District 11 champion Salisbury in the state semifinals. The winner advances to Friday's state championship.
The Lancers have made this Final 4 run while overcoming ample adversity and did so again Saturday. The quarterfinal started Thursday in Pine Grove and Loyalsock played as bad as it had all season, trailing 5-1 in the third inning. Loyalsock pulled within 5-4 in the bottom of the third before the game was suspended until Saturday because of the pouring rain.
It was an unusual setup and gave Loyalsock a chance to collect itself. The Lancers already were losing before they took the field but again found a way to thrive and deliver a big win as they scored five runs in their final two at-bats and received two-hit pitching from Datres.
"It was actually a blessing in disguise because (Thursday) we didn't come ready to play and we got off to a horrible start and we knew if things continued that way it wasn't going to be pretty for us so we came back and turned things right around," Datres said. "We talk to each other every day about how much we want it. We wanted it more than them and it showed."
Datres pitched the final inning Thursday and started yesterday's game, facing the top of Delone's order. Brett Smith hit a single and reached third with no outs before Datres started changing the game's complexion and struck out the side. He left runners on first and third with one out in the fifth, receiving a nice assist on a bunt from first baseman Luke Glavin, and setting the stage for Moore's big blast.
Jimmy Webb (3 for 4, 2 runs) hit a one-out single before center fielder Robbie Klein (1 for 1, two walks) was hit by a pitch. Moore fell behind 1-2 before crushing the next pitch over right fielder Austin Noel's head, up the hill in right and nearly over the fence. Webb and Klein easily scored as Moore hustled into third. When Moore slid, the ball bounced past third baseman Devon Craig and the lone senior starter Saturday scored to make it 7-5.
"I just wanted to keep the hands inside the ball, drive through it and drill it, just like batting practice," Moore said. "We had 12 outs to find a way and people came through and it was another team effort and a big win."
"Ethan has stepped up huge for us all year as a senior captain. He's done it defensively for us, he's doing it pitching for us all year and for him to come up in the biggest game of the season and find a way to shorten his swing and put a charge into it was great," Loyalsock coach Jeremy Eck said. "He's a hard worker and that's a credit to him. I knew he didn't want his season to end today and he did everything he had to."
Loyalsock scored two more runs in the sixth as Klein delivered a bases-loaded walk and Datres scored by using some intelligent baserunning. Glavin ignited the rally with a one-out walk before Datres was hit by a pitch and Webb delivered his third hit. Klein, like he did against Montoursville to win the district semifinal, drew a five-pitch walk and made it 8-5.
Delone's catcher thought the pitch was a strike and hit Klein in the helmet when he tried throwing back to the pitcher. The ball rolled into foul territory and Datres, who had sprinted to third, never broke stride, scoring easily and putting the Squires (19-5) in desperate times.
"I tried to do what I do best and that's walking, I guess," Klein said as he laughed. "I had same exact approach (as against Montoursville)."
Datres worked around a leadoff hit batter and retired the last three Squires. Moore recorded the final out, squeezing a Devin Altland pop-up at shortstop. The senior delivered his biggest hit yet earlier and the catch, while routine, felt as good as any he has ever made.
"A lot of people were lost this season and we're still a little banged up, but it was a great team win," Moore said. "What it took today was heart and desire and we definitely had that."
Delone203 000 0-5 6 3
Loyalsock103 032 x-9 5 3
Dalton Haymaker, Sam Stephon (4), Brett Smith (6) and Austin Roth. Luke Glavin, Kyle Datres (3) and Bailey Young, Evan Moore (4). W-Datres, (4-1). L-Stephon.
Top Delone hitters: Smith 2-3, R; Tanner Orndorff 2-3, 3B, 2 RBI. Top Loyalsock hitters: Jimmy Webb 3-4, 2 R; Robbie Klein 1-1, 2 BB, 2 R, RBI; Ethan Moore 1-4, 3B, 3 RBI, R; Datres 2 R.
Records: Loyalsock 20-3. Delone 19-5.