It was his last at bat, maybe ever, so Dakota Donovan made sure he would remember it.
With his team down one in the bottom of the fifth, Donovan came up with bases loaded. He smashed a single up the middle, bringing in what would become the game-winning runs and give Pine View its second straight 3A state championship with a 4-3 win over Cedar.
“It was amazing,” Donovan said. “It was my last career at bat, probably of my life, to end it like that is truly amazing.”
Donovan, who is known for his pitching prowess, didn’t start the game on the mound for Pine View, but after he gave the Panthers the lead in the fifth, he was called upon to close the contest. The Oregon State commit did what he does best — shut down opposing offenses.
Donovan struck out four through the final two innings to clinch the victory and the title for the Panthers
“I wanted to pitch the whole game, but they had other ideas,” Donovan said. “And can’t argue.”
The strategy worked, Donovan wasn’t the only Pine View hero on Saturday. Cole Green started on the mound for Pine View and limited the red hot Cedar attack through five innings. And Logan LaFeminia, fresh off hitting a walk off single in the semifinals on Friday, made the defensive play of the game.
In the top of the fifth, with no outs and a man on first, Cedar was looking to add to their one-run advantage, Ryan Slack ripped a ball that looked like it was going to get to the gap, but LaFemina, the Pine View second baseman, jumped up and climbed the ladder and robbed Slack of a hit, before swinging it to first for the double play.
The play halted the Cedar momentum — momentum that has been building for the better part of three weeks. The Redmen made an extraordinary run through the state playoffs. They headed into the last week of region play in last place in Region 9, and finished the year as the state runner-up.
“We weren’t supposed to be here,” Cedar coach Eric Fieldsted said. “This is a proud moment. We battled with them to the end, and that’s all you can ask for as a coach — that your boys don’t quit.”
One boy, especially, even if it was, at times, painful to watch. Cedar shortstop Rykker Tom, who made Gates Field his own personal home run park on Friday, pulled his hamstring in the first inning of Cedar’s 7-5 win over Canyon View in the play-in game on Saturday.
Tom was limited to being just a designated hitter against Pine View, but even then was in obvious discomfort as he struggled at the plate, and couldn’t finish the game.
“It’s really hard to see,” Donovan said. “He’s been one of my best friends forever. To see him end his career like that. It’s tough for me. I’m going to cry right now. It makes me feel so bad for him.”
Pine View went unscathed in the tournament, but they were heavily tested. The Panthers needed a walk off to beat Canyon View and needed a comeback win over Cedar.
“I think this year was a lot harder to do,” Pine View coach Troy Wall said. “We were the number one team to beat. It seemed like we faced everyone’s best, so it was a little tougher this time I think.”
But the Panthers proved their championship mettle, coming through with key play after key play throughout the tournament, and walked away from Gates Field as back-to-back champions.
“I can’t even explain it,” Donovan said. “We did it. It’s crazy that someone can do it twice.”
Follow Ryan Miller on Twitter, @millerjryan.