CRESTVIEW — Roman Donofro supplied the pitching and Tate Sweatt the power Tuesday as the Crestview High School baseball team took on Niceville in the District 2-6A tournament semifinals.
Donofro went the distance on the mound throwing a five-hit shutout and striking out 11 Eagle batters. And Sweatt had a pair two-run doubles as the Bulldogs rolled to a 6-0 win to earn a spot in the state playoffs.
“What a game,” Bulldog coach Tim Gillis said. We battled all night. Roman was absolutely outstanding.
“Tate Sweatt had some huge hits with four RBIs. And again, we had contributions from everywhere in the lineup.”
The first three innings of the game was a pitching battle between Donofro and Niceville starter Nick Junger that many fans were expecting to see.
Donofro limited the Eagles (19-5) to just two hits and a pair of walks through the first three frames.
Junger slightly better through three as he gave up just one walk and one hit.
Niceville threatened in the third inning when Andrew Engle led off with a single and Donofro walked the next batter, Tyler Kinard.
The momentum swung Crestview’s way when Donofro struck out Elliot Cary for the first out of the inning. And when Bulldog catcher Austin Armstrong threw Engle out trying to steal third for the second out of the inning the momentum was clearly in the Bulldog dugout.
Crestview, the number three seed in the tournament, rode the momentum into the top of the fourth inning.
Seth Thomason and Armstrong led off the fourth by drawing back-to-back walks from Junger. Justin Rebholz, the third Bulldog batter of the inning dropped down a perfect bunt for a base hit to load the bases.
A Junger wild pitch allowed Thomason to score. Sweatt then drove a Junger fastball into right-center field to score Drew Graham, who was running for Armstrong and Rebholz.
The Bulldogs (20-5) put the game out of reach with three more runs in the fifth.
Tyler Henderson led off the inning with a single. Corey Armstrong was next and drew a walk. Thomason took a two-strike pitch from Junger to right field scoring Henderson.
Sweatt doubled down the third base line with two out to score Corey Armstrong and Thomason for a pair of insurance runs.
Sweatt admitted it was probably the best game of his high school career at the plate.
After drilling a fastball for his first double he turned on a Junger curveball for his second double.
Donofro struck out the side in the Niceville fifth inning. The Eagles threatened in the sixth inning as they loaded the bases on a pair of walks and a base hit. Donofro got out of the jam by striking out pinch hitter Zack Shield.
Engle walked to lead off the Niceville seventh, but three fly ball outs to the outfield sealed the win for the Bulldogs.
“It feels better than any other feeling I’ve ever had,” Donofro said. “This was our goal (to make the playoffs) from the beginning (of the season). We knew we had a chance this year and we are getting it done.
“There really are no words for how it feels to beat Niceville three times in the same season. When they beat us in the preseason I had no clue what was going to be in store for us.”
Sweatt, like Donofro, struggled to find the words to describe what the win meant to him.
“It’s real big,” he said. “I’ve been thinking about it for weeks now and I’ve been praying about it. It just feels real good.”
Rebholz topped the Bulldogs with three hits. Sweatt and Henderson each had two hits.
Randy Dickson is the Crestview News Bulletin’s sports editor. Email him at email@example.com, tweet him @BigRandle, or call 682-6524.