Pitching and defense wins baseball games, but so does a few timely hits in the right spot.
The Papermakers explored all of those avenues to find a way to beat Battle Ground Friday, Evergreen Monday and begin the season with a 2-0 league record.
“I’m happy with how everything has started out,” said junior pitcher and first baseman Dylan White. “We’re doing what we need to do to win ball games. I feel really comfortable throwing strikes with these guys behind me.”
White drilled a pitch into the gap to break a 1-1 tie between the Papermakers and the Plainsmen in the bottom of the fourth inning Monday, in Camas. Blake Christopher got the inning started off with a single, reached second base on an error and came around to score on White’s double. Reed Conlee then brought White home on a sacrifice fly to add an insurance run.
The two runs were all White needed to shut the door on the mound. He allowed a few Evergreen batters to get on base, but Reilly Hennessey and Tyler Hallead turned a double play to get out of a jam in the sixth inning. White struck out the last two batters to end the game. Camas celebrated a 3-1 victory.
“It always feels nice to get a quick two,” White said. “Those two [strikeouts] were just the icing on the cake. I want to give my defense the opportunity to work.”
Trent Johnson beat the throw home on a ball that didn’t get deep enough in the outfield to prevent a close play at home. Johnson slid around the tag to tie the score.
Johnson also delivered the tying base hit in the top of the seventh inning at Battle Ground Friday.
Camas scored four runs in that final frame. Christopher nailed a 2-run single up the middle to score Conlee and Johnson. White singled home Christopher, and Connor Zepponi’s double made it 5-2. Nolan Hunt pitched his third scoreless inning to pick up the win.
“I knew we were down and needed to score some runs,” Christopher said. “I got a good pitch to hit and put it right up the middle. And then Dylan [White] did his job. That sort of opened up the flood gates for us.”
Thursday’s game between Camas and Skyview was suspended by a hail storm in the bottom of the fourth inning. Hallead tossed four scoreless innings, but the Papermakers couldn’t get that timely base hit with runners in scoring position during the first and third innings.
“That’s baseball in the northwest,” Christopher said.
Play resumes this Thursday, at 4 p.m., in Camas. The Papermakers have a runner on first base and nobody out in the bottom of the fourth. The score is 0-0.
“As long as our pitchers throw strikes, our hitters can find good pitches to hit and our defense makes the plays, we feel like we have a good chance to win a league championship,” Christopher said. “It doesn’t matter if Skyview steps in there against us or anybody else, we still have to score more runs than the other team to win.”