LA PINE — Adam Plant emerged from a celebratory La Pine dugout Friday evening with a big smile on his face.
And why not? He had just pitched a complete game for the Hawks, allowing just three hits in a 4-1 win over Rainier that vaulted La Pine into the Class 3A state baseball semifinals for the second straight year. He also hit an RBI single that gave the Hawks a 2-0 lead in the second inning.
“I just felt confident, and I knew that if I hit a spot, I’d have a good chance of making them swing and miss or ground out somewhere easy,” Plant said. “It was just my day today.”
Plant, a junior, had seven strikeouts and forced the No. 5 Columbians (17-8) — the top team from Special District 2 — into eight ground outs as he relied on his fastball on the outside corner.
Aiming for its second consecutive state title, No. 4 La Pine (17-7) — the third-place team from Special District 3 — will travel to face No. 1 Pleasant Hill, the SD3 champion, on Tuesday. The Billies defeated Joseph 7-1 on Friday.
“Adam pitched fantastic all game,” said La Pine coach Bo DeForest. “We had some errors early in the first inning, but they weren’t effort errors, which I thought was big, and Adam did a good job of keeping his head and staying in the fight. He didn’t try to overpower or reach too deep or overthrow, he just stayed the course and he did a fantastic job.”
Alex Farnsworth’s double to left-center field scored Plant and gave the Hawks a 1-0 lead in the first inning.
Plant and Rainier starting pitcher Logan Keizur battled back and forth as the score remained 2-0 until the fifth inning.
Teagan DeForest hit a fly ball to center field and Hunter Boulch made a diving catch, but Farnsworth scored from third base on the sacrifice fly to give La Pine a 3-0 cushion.
“Guys came up with big hits,” DeForest said. “We had some bunts. It was a great team game today. It was probably the best game we’ve played.”
Austin McKittrick hit a single down the right-field line that scored Riley Pinckney in the sixth inning to make it 4-0.
Joey Tripp’s run-scoring single up the middle in the top of the seventh ruined Plant’s shutout, but no matter, as these Hawks — who have just two seniors on the roster — are on a roll.
“I think it’s pretty impressive,” Plant said. “We’re a young team and we’re able to play like we’re all seniors and go to the semis back-to-back years. We played as a team today and rallied when we needed it. We always kept high intensity in the dugout and everything else. We’ve been playing together for 10-plus years. We’re all pretty tight, so to be able to play in the semis as a group, it’s fun.”
La Pine now must hit the road to take on the Billies of Pleasant Hill, to whom they lost three times in 3A Special District 3 play this season.
“It’s all about who’s hot at the right time,” DeForest said. “I feel like we’re right there. We know what they (the Billies) have and they know what we have, and we’ll get it on on Tuesday.”
— Reporter: 541-383-0318,