Roller coaster title game ends with Pine View on top of 3A baseball world; STGNews videocast

ST. GEORGE – Pine View dominated Cedar and blew the Redmen away … err, no … Cedar made an amazing comeback and beat Pine View … er, no … Pine View rallied late in the game to capture the 3A State Championship Saturday at Bruce Hurst Field with a 13-10 win over Cedar. This game had more storylines than an anthology by the brothers Grimm.

Pine-view-smBut the bottom line is the Panthers captured their first state baseball title in 12 years by staying resilient in the face of adversity. Pine View watched helplessly as the Redmen made up a 9-1 deficit with a nine-run rally in the fifth inning. But instead of folding like a tent, the Panthers rallied around Dakota Donovan and Kash Walker to score four unanswered and take the state title.

Donovan homered and had five RBIs and also pitched the final couple of innings to get the win and Walker, with thoughts of his dad, the late Coach Darin Walker, heavy on his mind, singled home the tying run in the fifth and the go-ahead runs in the sixth to help propel the Panthers to the win.

Kash Walker celebrates his game winning hit for the Panthers, Pine View vs. Cedar, 3A State Baseball Championship Game, St. George, Utah, May 16, 2015 | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News
Kash Walker celebrates his game-winning hit for the Panthers, Pine View vs. Cedar, 3A State Baseball Championships, St. George, Utah, May 16, 2015 | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

“I wouldn’t be here without him,” Kash Walker said. “I don’t know if I could have come through without him.”

Walker, who coached baseball and basketball at Pine View, passed away just over a year ago. He spent decades as an assistant for Pine View, volunteering his time and energy to help develop young players.

Much of the talk after the game was of the closeness of this Pine View team, which seemed to gel in late March and won 16 of 17 games since then.

“There are so many mixed emotions,” Donovan said. “I just won a state championship with my best friends and then again, it’s the last game I’ll play with them, so I don’t even know how to feel.”

Pine View led 9-1, then watched helplessly as the Redmen scored nine unanswered in the fifth inning to take a 10-9 lead. With Donovan on the mound, the Panthers scored the next four runs to clinch the title and avoid an “if necessary” game.

Justin Lewis (19) and Hunter Hansen score the final runs for Pine View, Pine View vs. Cedar, 3A State Baseball Championship Game, St. George, Utah, May 16, 2015 | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News
Justin Lewis (19) and Hunter Hansen score the final runs for Pine View, Pine View vs. Cedar, 3A State Baseball Championship Game, St. George, Utah, May 16, 2015 | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

“It was crazy,” said Hunter Hansen, who had five RBIs in the game. “I’ve never been a part of a baseball game like that. But honestly, I trust my team and I knew that we could come back.”

The Panthers looked dominant for the first four innings, building that eight-run advantage, with Hansen ripping a bases-loaded double and Donovan socking a three-run dinger.

But things began to go south in the top of the fifth. A walk by Cedar’s Kyler Carrizosa started a string of six straight batters that reached base and scored. Rykker Tom and Brecken Yardley both hit doubles in the rally that saw Pine View try four different pitchers as the Redmen brought a total of 13 batters to the plate.

The Panthers celebrate their State Championship win over Cedar, Pine View vs. Cedar, 3A State Baseball Championship Game, St. George, Utah, May 16, 2015 | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News
The Panthers celebrate their State Championship win over Cedar, Pine View vs. Cedar, 3A State Baseball Championship Game, St. George, Utah, May 16, 2015 | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

Even Donovan, who coach Mike Gargano was saving for a possible start in the “if necessary game,” came in and struggled at first. The Panther ace, who entered with Pine View still ahead 9-8, gave up a walk to Josh Boyer and then a hit to Tom that tied the game at 9-9. He then uncorked a wild pitch that gave Cedar its first lead of the game at 10-9.

“When they scored those last four and took the lead, I was stressing,” said Kash Walker.

“But it’s crazy how much confidence I have in this team. We’re so close, we’re like a family”

Undaunted by the loss of the lead, the Panthers went to work in the bottom of the fifth. Senior Blake Ence singled and stole second. He tied the game when Walker ripped a double to the right-center gap.

Donovan was perfect in the sixth, giving Pine View a chance to seize control of the game in the bottom of the sixth – and that’s just what they did.

Pine View catcher Jackson Bithell throws to Dakota Donovan to tag out Cedar's Joshua Boyer, Pine View vs. Cedar, 3A State Baseball Championship Game, St. George, Utah, May 16, 2015 | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News
Pine View catcher Jackson Bithell throws to Dakota Donovan to tag out Cedar’s Joshua Boyer, Pine View vs. Cedar, 3A State Baseball Championship Game, St. George, Utah, May 16, 2015 | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

Hansen singled with one out and Brooks Barney walked. Ence was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Again, Walker stepped up and lined a single into center field, scoring both Hansen and Barney and making it 12-10. One out and one walk later, Connor Clark walked to force home a 13th run.

With the three-run cushion, Donovan mowed the Redmen down in the seventh. Clark cradled the ball on the final out, savoring the Panthers title, the first since 2003.

“We knew we just had to keep going,” Donovan said. “The unity, the heart, it kind of comes natural when you play baseball together since you’re seven-years-old. Pine View High School, as a whole, we’re just a big entire family.”

It was also a measure of revenge for Pine View, which was ousted from the playoffs by the Redmen a season ago. Also, the Panthers only loss in the last two months was to Cedar.

Donovan, Walker and Hansen accounted for 12 of the 13 RBIs in the game for PV (Clark had the other) and the trio pounded seven of the Panthers 12 hits. Pine View, 19-8, finished the season by winning 16 of their last 17 games.

Cedar, which got two hits each from Boyer, Tom and Johnny Jenkins, beat Snow Canyon 7-4 in an elimination game Saturday morning. The Redmen end the year with a 22-7 record.

Cedar reached the championship game by slowing down the red-hot bats of the Warriors. The Redmen gave up two runs right off the bat to start the game, but Kyler Carrizosa, allowed just two runs over the next six innings to SC, which had been averaging more than 11 runs a game in the playoffs.

Tom and Brecken Lewis had a pair of RBIs each as Cedar erased the two-run deficit with one in the first and three in the second. Trey Esplin had three hits in the game.

Snow Canyon, which ends the year 21-9, got three hits from freshman shortstop Austin Deming. Brad Grisenti had a two-run triple.

Email: sports@stgnews.com

Twitter: @oldschoolag

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2015, all rights reserved.

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