Jayden Dana had been there before.
Two years ago, the then-sophomore second baseman capped off a stunning four-run rally in the bottom of the seventh inning with a game-ending RBI single as the Orono High School baseball team rallied past Lisbon 4-3 to capture the 2017 Class C championship.
When those same teams meet for the 2019 crown at 2 p.m. Saturday at Mansfield Stadium in Bangor, one big reason for the Red Riots’ presence in that rematch will be another memorable hit by Dana.
Coach Don Joseph’s club trailed Fort Kent 2-1 in the seventh inning of Wednesday night’s Class C North final and was down to its last out in the top of the seventh inning. Jason Desisto stood on second base and Dana, now a senior, came up to the plate.
“I’d been in that position before,” said Dana, who was 1-for-3 in his earlier at-bats against Fort Kent right-hander Eden Paradis. “So I knew what to do.”
Dana got ahead in the count 2-0, then saw the pitch he wanted.
“It was a fastball, a little inside, and not too high, at the top of the strike zone,” he said.
Like two years ago, Dana hit the ball into left field to drive Desisto home as the Red Riots emerged from the verge of playoff extinction to earn a 3-2 eight-inning victory.
Joseph appreciated the “deja vu” element of the moment.
“I told him, ‘Jayden, you’ve had two very clutch hits on this field,’ Joseph said. “And then he said, ‘That’s what I’m out here for.’
“But he’s a senior, he’s seasoned and gritty, and so was Fort Kent. They were gritty, they were hustling and they were gutsy. And we had to match their intensity. I think for the most part we did. We didn’t get discouraged.”
Dana’s heroics also helped classmate Connor Robertson earn his second complete-game pitching victory of this postseason just a year after missing nearly the entire 2018 campaign due to a knee injury.
Robertson backed up his no-hitter during Orono’s 1-0 quarterfinal win over Mattanawcook Academy of Lincoln with a five-hitter against Fort Kent.
Yet one of his biggest memories from that latest win won’t be his own performance, but the legend of Jayden Dana.
“I’ll be telling my kids about him someday,” Robertson said. “I knew I was going to have to do that after sophomore year, and now after senior year I’m going to have to do it again.”