BRANDON — Treated for bronchitis on Thursday, Durant right-handed ace Tyler Danish said he felt a little dehydrated even as he warmed up before the Cougars’ critical Saladino Tournament showdown Tuesday against King.
Consequently, he spent all seven innings replenishing his 6-foot frame with the one liquid that proved essential: adrenaline.
In his first high school matchup against fellow University of Florida signee Brett Morales, Danish threw more than 110 pitches, struck out 10 and worked out of one jam after another to lift Durant (9-2) to a 3-1 victory.
“That was the first time I’d gone over 75 (pitches) in a while,” said Danish, whose team clinched a spot in today’s 4 p.m. quarterfinals with the triumph.
“If there was no adrenaline, I probably wouldn’t have been out there in the sixth or seventh. But with the adrenaline kicking and a big game like this, I knew I wasn’t coming out and I told (coach Butch Valdes) I wasn’t coming out of the game.”
In a right-handers’ duel that drew roughly two-dozen big-league scouts to Brandon High on a damp, overcast day, Danish ended the first six innings with a strikeout. In five of those innings, King (9-2) had runners in scoring position when Danish fanned the final batter.
In three of them, the Lions had a runner on third.
“You’ve just got to focus,” Danish said. “A lot of people try to put pressure on themselves and throw it 102 (mph), but to me I just try to focus and go right at people.”
Danish got all the run support he’d need in the first when Morales struggled through a nine-batter inning. Durant scored three runs off three hits — including Paxton Sims’ two-run single — two hit batters and a walk.
He then allowed only one hit over the next four innings before exiting after the fifth. “Fastball, the command wasn’t there as much as I’m used to,” Morales said. “But I felt I threw well.”
Similarly, Danish, who hasn’t allowed an earned run all season, kept that streak intact. King scored its only run on a throwing error in the fourth, and had runners at the corners with two out in the fifth when Danish struck out Kevin Buckley on a called third strike.
With two out and a runner on second in the sixth, he fanned No. 2 hitter Tanner Williams on a called strike. “I wanted to put about two more runs on the board for him and we were actually going to take him out,” Valdes said.
“But again, taking it out of somebody’s hands like that is a tough deal. His safety and his health is first and foremost. I checked with my pitching coach and he seemed to be okay with it, so we let him go on.”