With heart and hustle, Camas-Washougal Granite Construction is going to the Northwest Regional Babe Ruth Championship Tournament, for 16- to 18-year-olds, in Kent, Wash.
“I hope this means something because we are representing the community, and our hats say Camas and Washougal on them,” said manager Scott Purkeypyle. “I just want these guys to make the plays they’re supposed to make, and to never get out-hustled. That’s the one side of the game we can always win.”
Camas-Washougal Babe Ruth hosted the state tournament Thursday through Sunday, at Louis Bloch Park. Although they lost to the Vancouver Jayhawks in the semifinals and in the championship game, the Granite scored four runs in the top of the sixth inning to defeat Longview Hamer Electric 7-6 Sunday and advance to the regional tournament.
“Words can’t describe it,” said winning pitcher Derek Engler. “It wasn’t just me out there. My whole team was behind me.
“I never thought I’d get the chance to go to regionals,” he added. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It’s our last year of baseball. Hopefully we can do it big.”
Engler and his teammates gave an extra effort for catcher Tyler Purkeypyle, who had to have heart surgery the day the state tournament began.
Purkeypyle said he had been dealing with anxiety, fatigue and breathing pains for nearly eight months. He thought he was just dehydrated. If he held his breath, the pain would eventually go away.
On July 3, Purkeypyle’s symptoms worsened to the point where he asked his cousin Austin to take him to the PeaceHealth Southwest Medicial Center, in Vancouver.
“When I got there, they said my heart was beating at a rate of 250 to 300 beats per minute,” Purkeypyle said.
The doctors determined that Purkeypyle had Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome. They transferred him to Sunnyside Medial Center in Clackamas, Ore. On Thursday, he had corrective surgery.
“Right after the surgery, I felt like a brand new person,” Purkeypyle said. “It was like night and day. It was that much of a difference.”
Purkeypyle was released from the hospital Friday. Instead of going home, he made it to Louis Bloch Park just in time to see the Granite beat Kennwick 5-3 in eight innings.
“That extra inning got my heart rate up,” Purkeypyle said. “It’s hard watching my team play when I can’t be out there, but it’s exciting when they win.”Purkeypyle’s dramatic recovery inspired his teammates. Nate Lauritzen pitched all eight innings on Friday. He allowed just two hits and racked up 14 strikeouts.
“He just had heart surgery, and the next day he comes to the game just to watch the team,” Lauritzen said. “It shows how much he loves the game and how much this team means to him.”
Purkeypyle thanked his teammates, family and friends for their ongoing support. His parents Scott and Jennifer, and his girlfriend Megan Carroll, have not left his side.
Purkeypyle would love to be able to play baseball again at the regional tournament, but he is taking his recovery one day at a time. He has learned not to take any day for granted.
The dream is still alive for the Camas-Washougal Granite. Their hearts are all beating as one.
“These guys are battlers, hustlers and they never give up,” Scott Purkeypyle said. “Sometimes, that’s more important than the score.”