SCRANTON – Larry Piccini knew the Lakeland Chiefs eventually were going to have to deal with Kyle Datres.
Datres, the player Piccini describes as the “best in the state,” came to the mound just in time for Loyalsock in Monday’s Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association Class AA baseball opener.
Datres needed just one pitch to escape a bases-loaded jam in the fourth inning, protecting a two-run lead at the time and propelling Loyalsock to a 6-0 win over Lakeland.
The sophomore right-hander, who was at shortstop to begin the game, gave up just one hit over the final 3 1/3 innings while striking out three and not allowing another Chief to reach second base.
Lakeland’s chances came earlier in the game, against starter Luke Glavin. The Chiefs left eight men on bases – half of them in scoring position – over the first four innings.
“We knew (Datres) was dominant on the mound,” Piccini said. “We had to get to them early and capitalize.
“We had to cash in on our early opportunities. We knew when the game was close, they would bring him in.”
Lakeland pitching ace Eric Grabowski struggled with his command. He hit four batters and had two pickoff throws get away, but still battled, allowing just one earned run.
Grabowski threw a five-hitter and kept the Chiefs within striking distance at 2-0 until three errors helped break the game open in the seventh inning.
Jimmy Hayes led the Lakeland offense, going 3-for-3 with a pair of infield singles. Overall, three of Lakeland’s five hits were infield hits.
The loss ends a season in which the Chiefs won the Lackawanna League Division 3 and District 2 Class AA titles. After going 11-1 in league play, Lakeland cruised through the District 2 tournament, destroying four opponents by a combined margin of 36-2.
“This group has a lot to be proud of,” Piccini said. “They are going to go down as one of the best teams in Lakeland history.
“We set a goal at the beginning of the season to win a district championship and we accomplished that. To be part of this great run is really special and I’m proud of each and every one of them.”