ST. GEORGE – When the fastball wasn’t hitting, Dakota Donovan found another way to beat Carbon Thursday afternoon.
There’s a life lesson in there somewhere, but it was mostly about baseball and how Donovan’s Pine View Panthers could get past Carbon and into the state 3A semifinals.
Donovan pitched a complete-game shutout Thursday afternoon as the Panthers beat Carbon 8-0 to advance to the 3A State semifinals at Dixie State’s Bruce Hurst Field.
Last Saturday, Donovan pitched a one-hitter against Juab and had 14 strikeouts and the big right-hander once struck out 18 in a varsity game. But on Thursday, he found a way to get the job done without the K’s.
“He’s really been working hard on his offspeed stuff,” Pine View coach Mike Gargano said. “I have confidence in all his pitches. His change-up and his knuckle-curve were spot on today. He was dialed in, just in a different way.”
Donovan allowed six hits to the Dinos and struck out five. He also walked one batter and hit three more. In three different innings, Carbon had at least two runners on and still came away empty-handed.
Meanwhile, the Panthers (17-8) broke a scoreless tie with three runs in the third inning. Kash Walker reached on an error (one of six in the game by the Dinos) and went to second on a single to center by Tyler Johnston. Logan LaFemina then laid down a perfect bunt down the third base line and beat out the throw to first. On the play, Walker rounded third and went home before Carbon realized what was happening.
That made it 1-0 and moments later, Donovan stabbed a single up the middle to score both Johnston and LaFemina and make it 3-0.
“We weren’t really worried about the score or anything,” Johnston said. “We just came out and played the game of baseball and tried to stay focused and do our thing. We’re not trying to think too much at the plate, just see the fastball and hit it.”
Pine View, which had nine hits in the game, put the victory in its back pocket with five runs in the bottom of the sixth. The Panthers had four hits and took advantage of two more Carbon errors in the frame and brought nine men to the plate.
The bottom of the sixth started innocently enough, with Donovan hitting a sharp grounder to short. After a brief bobble, Carbon shortstop Chase Morgan gripped the ball and fired across the infield. But the throw was in the dirt and skipped away for an error.
Hunter Hansen followed with a solid single to left. After a fielder’s choice got the lead runner, Blake Ence singled home a run to make it 4-0. Walker then beat out a grounder in the hole to push Barney home and make it 5-0. LaFemina’s RBI single made it 6-0 and Connor Clark’s hot grounder was thrown away by the Dinos third baseman, scoring two more and giving the Panthers an 8-0 lead.
CHS had just one 1-2-3 inning in the game. In the seventh, Jacky Byrge was hit by Donovan to start the inning off. But the Panthers turned a double play on the next batter and then Donovan reunited with his old friend, the strikeout, to end the game.
Donovan, who has verbally committed to play for Oregon State after his senior year, is 9-0 on the season. Cole Fossat was the hard-luck loser, allowing just two earned runs and striking out six.
The Panthers, who have won four straight and 13 of the last 14, advance to Friday’s state semifinal game and will play a familiar foe in Region 9’s Cedar High. The Redmen, who beat Bear River 9-6 Thursday in the other no-loss bracket game, are the only team to have beaten Pine View since mid-March. Cedar split a pair of games with the Panthers three weeks ago.
The two southern Utah teams will face off at Hurst Field Friday at 4:30 p.m.
The Dinos, 12-11, got a pair of hits from Jarod Lessar, but also left nine runners on base. Carbon will play an elimination game Friday at 11 a.m. against a yet to be determined opponent.
In the Cedar win over Bear River, Dusty Hanna pitched a complete game for the Redmen, who are 21-5 on the season. Cedar coach Eric Fieldsted gambled and saved ace Brecken Lewis for the semifinals and it paid off as Hanna pitched well enough to get the job done. Cedar led 9-2 in the game before a rally in the sixth got the Bears close. But Hanna closed it out and the Redmen advanced.
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