Pitching change keeps Loyalsock in front of Lakeland in win

SCRANTON – Joe Natale’s scream may have been audible back in Loyalsock. The Lakeland lead-off hitter knew as soon as he made contact with Kyle Datres’ first pitch he had made a mistake.

Datres, relieving Lancers starter Luke Glavin in the bottom of the fourth inning with the bases loaded and two outs, needed just the one pitch to escape the jam. The one pitch was a weak ground ball to second base which Phil Krizan easily made the play on, which is what had Natale screaming.

It was the Chiefs’ last gasp during Monday’s PIAA Class AA tournament opener. They never threatened again against Datres and Loyalsock’s offense capitalized on Lakeland errors to score four runs in the seventh inning of its 6-0 win over the District 2 champions.

The win was Loyalsock’s first state tournament win since beating Kennedy-Kenrick, 9-1, on June 10, 2010 in the PIAA quarterfinals. It came with Glavin (3 2/3 IP, 4 hits) and Datres (3 1/3 IP, 0 hits) combining on a four-hit shutout of a Chiefs team that was hitting .345.

Loyalsock plays Delone Catholic, a 13-4 winner over Prep Charter, Thursday at a site and time to be determined.

For Lancers’ head coach Jeremy Eck, pitching Datres in the fourth inning was a difficult move, but necessary. Glavin was stellar in his start, striking out five and keeping a high-powered offense featuring six hitters with at least a .300 average at bay into the fourth inning.

The move to Datres was clearly the right one. Datres was 85-86 mph with his fastball in his three-plus innings and had the Chiefs baffled with his curveball. It was the complete opposite of Glavin, who continually got swings and misses with a tailing fastball Lakeland’s lineup never seemed to catch up to.

“In your heart it’s a two-run ball game and you don’t want to pull (Glavin), but we did it against Towanda,” Eck said. “As coaches you have to make tough decisions, but that’s why you’re either the hero or you’re the most hated man in the world. I have to make the tough decisions. We just thought Kyle would give us what we needed there. Luke did a great job.”

It was a brilliant combined pitching performance, one which preserved the two runs the Lancers scratched out in the first three innings. The first run, which came in the first inning, gave Eck an idea that Lakeland’s defense might give the Lancers some opportunities.

Loyalsock had runners on first and second when Robbie Klein popped up a bunt and Jimmy Webb was doubled off first. But later in the inning, Datres broke for third before Lakeland starting pitcher Eric Grabowski began his delivery. Grabowski’s throw to third was missed and Datres raced home for a 1-0 lead.

“That was really big,” said Klein, who later delivered a pair of RBI singles. “It picked us up. It picked me up because I didn’t play good the first inning.”

“Just to be able to jump and score that run the way we did, they showed us a little bit with some sloppiness there,” Eck said. “It’s Kyle Datres being Kyle Datres, you saw it in the district title game. He was hung up there and he should have been out. It was bad baserunning on his part, but he turned it into something.”

The Lancers scrapped for their two early runs but were often stymied by Grabowski, a senior pitcher who had given up just seven runs (three earned) all season and was 8-0. A pitcher averaging better than 10 strikeouts per game induced a double play to escape a bases loaded threat in the third, and he stranded a runner on third in the sixth with the fifth of his six strikeouts.

But his defense let him down in the seventh when a mishandled ground ball put Glavin on base, and a thrown-away sacrifice bunt put two runners on. Datres was intentionally walked to load the bases with nobody out and Jimmy Webb drove a pitch to right field to score pinch-runner Roger Wilson and move Phil Krizan and Datres up to second and third.

Klein drove an RBI single through a drawn-in infield and Datres scored on an errant pickoff throw. Ethan Moore ended the scoring with an RBI groundout.

“We have guys who don’t get to hit who would hit for a lot of teams we play,” Glavin said. “We have threats all through the lineup and that’s what’s going to help us and hurt other pitchers. (Grabowski) had some good pop on it, but we just wanted to put the barrel on it and see what happens.”

Datres recorded Loyalsock’s lone 1-2-3 inning in the bottom of the seventh. He twice faced the top of the Lakeland order, including in the seventh, and allowed just two hitters to reach base, both via error.

The sophomore right-hander pounded the strike zone, throwing 28 of his 35 pitches for strikes. He gave up just one hard-hit ball, a deep drive by Grabowski in the fifth inning, but was otherwise in complete control as he threw a first-pitch strike to 11 of the 12 batters he faced.

“Our bats haven’t been working all year, but you can’t lose a game if you don’t give up any runs,” Klein said.

Loyalsock 101 000 4 – 6 4 2

Lakeland 000 000 0 – 0 4 4

Luke Glavin, Kyle Datres (4) and Bailey Young. Eric Grabowski and James Blevins. W-Datres (3-1). L-Grabowski (8-1).

Top Loyalsock hitters: Kyle Datres, 1-2, 2 runs; Jimmy Webb, RBI; Robbie Klein, 2-4, 2 RBIs, run; Phil Krizan, 1-3, 2 runs. Top Lakeland hitters: Eric Grabowski, 1-4; Cody Delfino, 1-2; Jimmy Hayes, 2-3.

Pitchers’ lines: Loyalsock, Luke Glavin (3 2/3 IP, 4 hits, 0 runs, 0 ER, 2 BB, 5 Ks); Kyle Datres (3 1/3 IP, 0 hits, 0 runs, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 Ks). Lakeland, Eric Grabowski (7 IP, 4 hits, 6 runs, 1 ER, 2 BB, 6 Ks).

With runners in scoring position: Loyalsock 2-7; Lakeland 1-6.

Runners left on base-in scoring position: Loyalsock 4-3; Lakeland 9-4.

Pitches-strikes: Loyalsock, Luke Glavin 69-45; Kyle Datres 35-28. Lakeland, Eric Grabowski 98-67.

Batters faced-first pitch strikes: Loyalsock, Glavin 9-18; Datres 12-11. Lakeland, Grabowski 32-21.