BLOOMSBURG - A runner stood on third, there were no outs and Loyalsock already was down a run Saturday at Bloomsburg University. The Lancers faced a deficit before they even took the field of this game suspended Thursday after three innings and it appeared Delone Catholic would extend that lead.
The pressure was high and there was little margin for error in this Class AA state quarterfinal. Pitcher Kyle Datres felt right at home.
This was hardly Datres's first go-round in a tough spot. Since he first started playing sports, Datres has excelled in big moments. Saturday was no different.
Datres struck out the heart of Delone's lineup and stranded that runner on third. He went on to throw four scoreless innings, strike out six and help Loyalsock defeat Delone Catholic, 9-5. Datres won his second straight state game and helped the Lancers (20-3) reach the state semifinals for a fourth time in six seasons.
"My dad always tells me this isn't the biggest game you've pitched in. I've pitched in two World Series in Babe Ruth and I've been playing with these guys my whole life," Datres said. "I know what they can do and they know what I can do. We believe in each other and that's all that really matters."
Datres has mastered the high-wire act throughout the postseason. Counting the inning he threw Thursday before the game was suspended, he threw five scoreless innings and stranded eight runners. In the opening round against Lakeland, he entered in the fourth inning with the bases loaded and two outs, ending Lakeland's last serious threat. He then threw three more hitless innings as Loyalsock won 6-0.
In 8 1/3 state tournament innings, Datres has allowed no runs, two hits and struck out 13 against two district champions that had 36 combined wins. He was up and down at times earlier this season, but as soon as the lights went on, the sophomore has owned the moments.
"Kyle has been great for us all year. He's definitely stepping up in the postseason," shortstop Ethan Moore said. "He's a big-time pitcher and that's what we he does."
"We knew Kyle was going to come out and throw strikes," Loyalsock coach Jeremy Eck said. "He's a gamer and that's what he does"
Datres struck out six yesterday and consistently stifled Delone's momentum. An inning after striking out the side, Datres had to deal with a runner on third and one out. First baseman Luke Glavin made a nice play on a bunt and Datres ended the inning with another strikeout. Moore put Loyalsock ahead to stay, 7-5, in the bottom of the inning, slamming a two-run triple.
And as good as Delone was, it might as well have been down 20 runs at that point. Even in the sixth inning when a hit batter and a two-out error put runners on first and third, Datres still was in complete control. He induced a weak, inning-ending pop up down the first-base line and Delone never threatened again.
"I told my teammates that if they got me a lead I would keep it for them and that's what happened," Datres said. "I just had confidence in them and they had confidence in me and that's what you need on a team to win a championship."
Datres knows a lot about that. A two-year starter in football, basketball and baseball, Datres has helped the latter two teams win three district championships and four league titles the last two seasons. He was all-state in baseball last spring and all-state in basketball last winter. He has the talent, but Datres also combines a ferocious work ethic with remarkable instincts and has a way of making his teams better.
Datres has done that throughout the postseason and yesterday was the third straight game in which he used intelligent baserunning to produce a run. When Robbie Klein drew a bases-loaded, two-out walk in the sixth inning, Datres started sprinting from second to third base. The catcher hit Klein in the helmet with his throw back to the pitcher and Datres never broke stride, scoring a run that so many others would not have as the ball rolled away.
"He's lethal on the bases," Klein said. "That was huge right there."
Datres has mastered both the little and big things. He will try doing so again Monday in his biggest high school game yet. These are the games Datres loves the most.
"We're going to do all we can to prepare," Datres said. "We'll come ready to play."
Datres always does.