Wildcats winners in their long-anticipated showdown

MILL HALL – There was a different feeling for the coaches, fans and especially the players for Central Mountain at Mill Hall Community Park, taking on Loyalsock on Thursday.

They wanted this win…Bad.

And the Wildcats, finally, walked off the field satisfied after an up-and-down 7-5 win over the defending Class AA state champ Lancers.

“We as a whole team wanted to beat Loyalsock really bad,” Central Mountain senior Zach Skrtich said. “Ever since last year when we were beating them 5-2 and they came back to beat us. We’ve been looking forward to this game for a long time and I’m glad I was able to come in (pitched final two innings) and shut it down for my team.”

The start of the game wasn’t so fulfilling for Central Mountain (10-2). The Lancers (7-4) jumped out to 3-0 lead, scoring runs in the first and third innings. North Carolina commit Kyle Datres did what he needed to do on the bases, putting himself in scoring position to eventually score on an error by Central Mountain. Phil Krizan laid down a bunt in the first, which brought home Jimmy Webb, putting the score at 2-0 in the top of the first. The miscues continued for the ‘Cats in third after a wild pitch gave the speedy Datres a wide-open lane to home plate.

The game was moving smoothly for the Lancers and head coach Jeremy Eck liked the way his team came out.

“When you have Kyle Datres on the mound anything can happen,” Eck said. “He’s got one of the better arms in District 4 and I think Central Mountain knew that, too.”

Things got rough for Loyalsock in the bottom of the third and fourth innings.

Dylan Kerstetter and Cayden Stover each added RBI doubles on hits down the left field line, while Zach Skrtich drove in another run with a single. The Wildcats were back in business, tying the game at 3-3.

“Dylan clutch hit, Cayden clutch hit, Zach clutch hit. All were huge,” Central Mountain head coach Mike Kramer said. “To get it back to even in that inning was huge for us. The momentum swung back in our favor and we were able to extend it for the rest of the game.”

Skrtich added two more RBIs to his stat line in the bottom fourth, bringing his total to three in the game. His shot to left-center sent home Ryan Yost and Kerstetter.

The Lancers made things worse for themselves, too. Ethan McGill scored on an overthrow at home and Trapper Kunes scored on another throwing error.

“Yeah, we put together two good innings,” Skrtich said. “It was tough for us in the beginning, but we were able to scrap some hits together. Usually, when you have two big innings like that you win ball games.”

The usually heavy-hitting Lancers were kept at bay by Kenny Heverly and Skrtich on the mound. Loyalsock recorded only two hits for the game, one of which was the bunt in the first inning. Loyalsock did score two more runs. Both stemmed from Wildcat errors. There were some inconsistencies with some of the calls, specifically dealing with the strike zone. Eck had a moment where he got a little heated, confronting the umpire at home plate.

“To be honest, we didn’t get some calls,” Eck said. “I’m never one to make excuses about an umpire, but it was disappointing the way it happened today. When I talked to him I didn’t swear or tell him he was terrible. I was just disappointed. My catcher sat there at times and didn’t even move his glove and didn’t get the call. It’s one thing if his glove is all over the place, but if my catcher is sitting there with his glove not moving and it’s happening continuously that’s different. And to have Central Mountain players laughing because they know we’re not getting a call… It’s just disappointing.”

Loyalsock 201 011 0 – 5 2 2

Central Mountain 003 400 X – 7 7 5

Kyle Datres, Phil Krizan (5) and Evan Moore.

Kenny Heverly, Zach Skrtich (6) and Ryan Yost WP: Heverly; LP: Datres

Top Loyalsock hitters: Datres 1-4, single. Top Central Mountain hitters: Dylan Kerstetter 2-3, 2B, single (RBI), Cayden Stover 2-3, 3B, 2B (RBI), Zach Skrtich 2-4, 2 singles (3 RBIs).

Record: Loyalsock 7-4; Central Mountain 10-2

Next: (today) Loyalsock vs. Central Columbia, 4:30 p.m.; (today) Central Mountain vs. Penns Valley, 4:30 p.m.