KEARNS It wasn't always easy for Springville pitcher Todd Oakey to stay positive and keep working hard during the 2008 season.
There were times when he was frustrated by the number of innings he was given to throw. It's not that he didn't have the ability to pitch. He was simply caught up in a numbers game as one of Springville's four senior starting pitchers.
What kept Oakey going was that he knew the Red Devils would need him at some point this season, and he delivered a clutch performance on a frigid Wednesday night at Kearns High.
Oakey threw a complete game in Springville's 5-3 elimination-game victory over Region 9 runner-up Pine View. It was the Red Devils' fifth consecutive victory, and it assured them of finishing no worse than third place in this year's 4A tournament. Springville will play the loser of the Cottonwood-Dixie game at 1:30 p.m. today at UVSC.
Oakey, who lost to the Panthers in the preseason, scattered nine hits and struck out four in seven innings. The win not only gave him some revenge over Pine View, but it also wiped away any lingering frustration he's had this season.
"It was nice to come out and throw a great game today," Oakey said.
Springville coach Willy Child said he was confident Oakey would come through in a big spot.
"We kept telling him that this would be when we we'd need him,"Child said. "He came up huge tonight. He kept working all season and stayed positive. He threw the game of his life."
The Red Devils started quickly against Pine View, and it allowed Oakey to just relax and pitch against the Panthers. Jeff Boyd, Mark Dewyze and Ben Doxey opened the bottom of the first with consecutive singles, and Springville put up three runs in the inning.
The start was big for the Red Devils, who watched Pine View defeat Orem 10-8 in an elimination game prior to their contest. The Panthers showed that they have a strong lineup, but they couldn't string together much offense against Oakey and a stellar defense behind him.
"They (the Red Devils' defense) deserve all the credit tonight," Oakey said. "They made all the defensive plays."
Infielders Colton Ramon, Trevor Jeffers, Isaac Allred and Boyd, and center fielder Eric Bulow, each contributed at least one key defensive play. Bulow ended the game by making a tough catch in center, then doubling up a Pine View runner at second base.
Allred had an RBI single in the fourth, and Corey Macmurdo and Brandon Miller each contributed sacrifice-fly RBIs for the Red Devils.
Springville has been on a roll since losing to Cyprus in the first round of the tournament. The Red Devils avenged their loss to the Pirates in Wednesday's early game, rolling to an 11-1 win in six innings. Springville's hot streak has been no fluke, as it has outscored its opponents 42-6 in its last five games."It just shows that we have a lot of seniors on our team who work so hard and don't want it to end," Child said. "They keep playing well."