Earlier this week, Ryan Lentz was transported to his high school days, back to his freshman season at Upper Dauphin when then-Trojans coach Tim Williard tapped him to pinch run in a district playoff game.
"I was a bundle of nerves," Lentz recalled.
He was reminded of the moment after watching current Trojans freshman Kyle Glouner's first varsity pitching start Tuesday, but it wasn't because Lentz sympathized with the youngster.
Quite the contrary. Lentz, who followed Williard as UDA varsity coach three years ago, marveled at Glouner's poise in what he described as "the biggest game of the year."
The fresh-faced righty pitched a one-hitter in a shocking 8-1 victory over Tri-Valley Athletic Association leader Halifax. Glouner faced just three batters over the minimum (one hit, two walks) and struck out four while allowing an unearned run in the third inning.
"To give a ninth grader the ball and tell him to go get us a win and have him come through like that is pretty nice," said Lentz, who added with a laugh, "I'm sure he'll see another start."
It was the brightest jewel among several in Glouner's short varsity career, and it cemented his place atop our list of the Valley's top underclassmen. That list includes (but is certainly not limited to) Danville's Shayne Riley, Shikellamy's Brandon Kashuba, and the Mifflinburg trio of Andy Aurand, Brady Lloyd and Brian Zimmerman.
Glouner couldn't have announced his arrival to the varsity level any better than with a home run in his first at-bat. He was promoted to play third base in that April 8 win over Millersburg because the starter and two other Trojans were unavailable. He went 2-for-3 in his debut (also roping a double), which was a bit of a slide considering Lentz noted he was 11-for-11 in four junior varsity games.