Confident Loyalsock advances to PIAA final

BLOOMSBURG – Loyalsock third baseman Ethan Moore twisted, turned and went just about every direction possible while tracking down the two-out, seventh-inning foul pop-up.

The sequence and the ending perfectly symbolized Loyalsock’s entire 2013 season. Moore made the catch. Loyalsock captured a Class AA Eastern Region championship.

Luke Glavin threw a masterful complete-game five-hitter, every Loyalsock offensive starter delivered at least one hit and the defense played an error-less game Tuesday at Bloomsburg University as Loyalsock thumped Salisbury, 8-1 and won the program’s second Eastern Region title since 2008. The Lancers (21-3) overcame injuries, adversity and a district final loss to reach the state’s biggest stage and play West champion Beaver in Friday’s state championship at Penn State.

“This is what you dream about. This is why you play baseball,” said Moore, who went 2 for 4 with a double and two RBIs. “That just shows the heart we have. We knew before the season we had a great team but you have to prove that and we did.”

“It shows what kind of team we have. We’re fighters,” said right fielder Jimmy Webb, who went 2 for 4 and scored three runs. “No matter what happened during the year someone always stepped up and we’ve never given up. You saw that today.”

During the preseason, Loyalsock printed warmup shirts that read, “QC68.8.” The QC represented quiet confidence. The 68.8 was the distance between home plate at Loyalsock and home at Penn State’s Medlar Field at Lubrano Park. The message was clear: Loyalsock expected to be playing in the state final.

As the injuries and other distractions piled up, though, it seemed Loyalsock would need to buy a ticket and get a field pass to fulfill that goal. Nothing came easy leading up to Tuesday and Loyalsock survived two scares and a district final loss just to reach states as a runner-up. Just when many thought they might be finished, the Lancers made the most of a second chance and have played their best baseball at the perfect time, beating three district champions who are a combined 61-8 while reaching the ultimate destination.

“The thing that is great about these guys is we could have used every excuse in the book. We could have just packed it in and said everyone’s hurt and we’re using more ice than (trainer) Barb (Wertz) can make in a week, but they haven’t,” Loyalsock coach Jeremy Eck said. “Every single guy has battled through the injuries. You have to play through it and it’s all about heart at this point and these guys have so much of that and every single player had a role in today’s win.”

“We lost a couple of our guys and it weakened our lineup a bit but people stepped up and we’re just as strong now,” said second baseman Phil Krizan after driving in two runs and playing great defense. “We’re peaking at the right time, going into the state championship game.”

The irony Tuesday was that as hard as reaching the state’s Final 4 was, advancing to the championship was pretty easy. The Lancers dominated Salisbury (25-2) in all facets, collected 11 hits and scored more runs than any previous Salisbury opponent. Moore hit a first-inning RBI single, Tommy Baggett and Ben Sosa added a two-out third-inning RBI single and double, respectively, as Loyalsock took a 3-0 lead that was never seriously threatened.

After Kyle Datres walked and Webb doubled to start the fourth, Robbie Klein hit a RBI single and Moore followed with a RBI double to deep center field and Loyalsock had a 7-0 lead against a team that outscored the opposition by 6.4 runs entering today.

But the Falcons had never played Loyalsock. And in 2013, the Lancers had never played better.

“Coach just said it’s going to be scary when we put it all together and we put it all together today,” Webb said. “It was really a special thing today.”

The run support was huge since Glavin was locked in. The Duke-bound sophomore did not let a runner reach third until the fourth inning and allowed just one hit over the final 3 1/3 innings after Salisbury pulled within 7-1. Glavin hit his spots, moved the ball well and let his defense work while stifling a team hitting .371 and coming off an 11-hit performance against Hughesville in the state quarterfinals.

Krizan made an outstanding first-inning play to take away a hit, Sosa, Klein and Webb shined in the outfield and catcher Evan Moore was a rock behind the plate. Glavin knew he did not need to strikeout many. He had a team behind him and that team made all the plays.

“I said if we put things together like we did the last time (in the quarterfinals) anything can happen,” said Ethan Moore who has four RBIs the last two games. “We played great today and it happened.”

Bailey Young smashed two doubles in his first start as the team’s designated hitter and was hit by a pitch to lead off the seventh. Glavin singled pinch-runner Nate Krizan to third and Phil scored his younger brother with a RBI fielder’s choice. That seven-run lead looked more like 70 the way Glavin was throwing and all that was really left was the coronation.

Ethan Moore, the team’s only senior starter, made all three outs in the seventh, clinching it by making the difficult catch of the foul pop-up near the fence. Baggett jumped and pumped his fist at first base but there was no huge celebration. Webb said the moment was so surreal that they did not know how to celebrate.

Not that the Lancers cared. They have traveled the long, winding road. They are going those 68.8 miles at last.

“We kept getting better and kept being successful at different levels growing up. It was not expected, but expected at the same time,” Krizan said. “It’s a dream come true.”

Loyalsock 102 310 1 – 8 11 0

Salisbury 000 100 0 – 1 5 2

Luke Glavin and Evan Moore. Nic Ampietro, Justin Aungst (4), Tyler Cooperman (7) and Chase Rogers.

W-Glavin. L-Apietro.

Top Loyalsock hitters: Kyle Datres, 1-3, run; Jimmy Webb, 2-4, double, 3 runs; Robbie Klein, 1-2, 2 RBIs, run; Ethan Moore, 2-4, double, RBI; Tommy Baggett, 1-4, RBI, run; Bailey Young, 1-2, double; Ben Sosa, 1-4, double, RBI; Phil Krizan, 1-3, RBI. Top Salisbury hitters: Brad Vangeli, 1-4, double; Nic Ampietro, 1-3, run; Justin Aungst, 1-3; Mason Kresley, 1-2; Tyler Cooperman, 1-3, RBI.

Pitchers’ lines: Loyalsock, Luke Glavin (7 IP, 5 hits, 1 run, 1 ER, 2 BB, 1 K). Salisbury, Nic Ampietro (3 1/3 I{, 6 hits, 5 runs, 5 ER, 1 BB, 2 K); Justin Aungst (2 2/3 IP, 4 hits, 2 runs, 2 ER, 0 BB, 1 K); Tyler Cooperman (1 IP, 1 hit, 1 run, 1 ER, 0 BB, 1 K).

With runners in scoring position: Loyalsock 6-15; Salisbury 1-6.

Runners left on base-in scoring position: Loyalsock 8-6; Salisbury 5-4.

Pitches-strikes: Loyalsock, Luke Glavin 93-54. Salsibury, Nic Ampietro 66-41; Justin Aungst 39-21; Tyler Cooperman 14-8.

Batters faced-first pitch strikes: Loyalsock, Luke Glavin 28-13. Salisbury, Nic Apietro 20-16; Justin Aungst 12-6; Tyler Cooperman 5-2.