By Scott Dudinskie
The Daily Item
DANVILLE -- When he needed a pitch to get out of a tough spot in the middle innings Monday, Mason Fausnaught went to an unusual, elevated off-speed pitch for a critical strikeout.
An inning later, the Danville senior dialed up the unique offering again for a third-out swing and miss.
Asked post-game for specifics about the dynamite weapon, Fausnaught willingly shared his secret.
"They were accidents," he said sheepishly, admitting he'd hung a couple sliders. "Every once in a while you get lucky."
It was that kind of do-no-wrong outing for the Ironmen's ace right-hander, who couldn't have turned in a much better start against perennial power Loyalsock. He threw a four-hitter at the Lancers, surrendering no earned runs in the hardest of hard-luck losses, 2-1, at Danville High School.
"It's like I told the kids: When we don't give up an earned run, we have to win the game," said Ironmen coach Devin Knorr. "Mason was outstanding. He had command of all his pitches and did a great job of keeping them off-balance. Unfortunately, we squandered some opportunities."
Fausnaught was matched, if not surpassed, by Loyalsock's Luke Glavin, who shook off Shayne Riley's second-inning home run and finished with a flourish that saw him fan six of the last seven Ironmen that came to the plate and 13 overall.
"He's a gamer," Lancers coach Jeremy Eck said of the sophomore righty. "We're struggling offensively right now and it's no secret. So for Luke to come out and shut the door, keep us in the game long enough for us to scratch out a run to go ahead was absolutely huge."
Loyalsock (7-1) scored in the fourth and sixth innings, turning one-out hits into runs with the help of an infield error each time. The first miscue tied the score and forced Fausnaught to strand a runner a third base; the second error cashed in a Tommy Baggett double that tucked itself just inside the right-field line for the game's lone extra-base hit.
"It's definitely frustrating, but you can't get down on anybody," said Fausnaught of the errors. "As far as I'm concerned, we have nine guys on the field and I wouldn't want anybody else on the field but those guys in those positions."
Riley, a couple weeks after slugging a home run on his birthday, turned around an inside fastball for a towering shot to lead off the second inning that put Danville (4-5) up 1-0.
Glavin seemed leery of pounding the strike zone from that point, running several deep counts and issuing his only two walks in the fourth and fifth innings. He stranded five Ironmen in the third through fifth innings, four in scoring position (two at third).
"We thought about going to (sophomore ace Kyle) Datres to close the game in the sixth inning and (Glavin) argued a little bit with us, which is fine. That's what you want," said Eck. "He wanted the ball."
Glavin swept the outside corner for a called third strike on Fausnaught to end the fifth with runners at second and third. That marked the first of seven consecutive outs (on just 31 pitches) to end the game as he became the first Loyalsock starter to go deeper than four innings.
"We saw a pretty good arm, but what I'm concerned about is we didn't make adjustments at the plate," said Knorr. "Thirteen strikeouts? You can't strike out 13 times in high school baseball, not put pressure on the opposing defense, and expect to win consistently."
"We've been tested and we still have to figure out a way to win these games," Knorr added. "It's part of our growth as a team, and we're not quite there yet."