The crack heard round the county had an echo.
It was the home runs Camas High School juniors Nate Culver and Austin Barr hit to lead the Papermakers to a 6-4 victory over Hudson’s Bay Friday, at Propstra Park in Vancouver.
“Never say die. Play hard until the final out. Play as one, play for each other. Those were the adages we believed in Friday night,” said Camas head coach Joe Hallead.
Hudson’s Bay scored four runs in the second inning, while starting pitcher Buck Hale held Camas to one run over five innings pitched. With two runners on base and one out in the top of the sixth, Culver crushed the first pitch he saw over the left field fence for a game-tying 3-run home run. The shot knocked Hale out of the game and gave the Papermakers plenty of momentum.
John Welborn singled in the top of the seventh, and stole his third base of the game. Barr stepped up to the plate and bashed a first-pitch fast ball over the center field fence to put Camas ahead 6-4. In 15 at-bats this season, Barr has 10 hits, three home runs and 13 RBI.
“I’m feeling really good at the plate. I worked hard all offseason, and it’s great to see it paying off out here on the field,” Barr said. “I’m trying not to put too much pressure on myself. Just see the ball, hit the ball. It’s been working for me.”
Hallead said he gets chills every time Barr steps up to the plate.
“The way he is swinging the bat right now is unbelievable,” Hallead said. “He’s built himself into the player he is, and he deserves everything he accomplishes.”
Hallead is also impressed by the way Barr handles the pitching staff.
“We have nine different guys throwing from different angles,” he said. “Austin is like a poker player. He has all the right moves, and he calls a great game. It’s like having a second coach out there.”
Barr and ace pitcher Kurt Yinger are in a groove. Six days after Yinger tossed a no-hitter and Barr hit for the cycle, the pitcher and catcher collaborated on another shut out Wednesday.
Yinger held Hudson’s Bay to five hits over five innings, while striking out five. Barr, Culver, Welborn, Logan Grindy, Conner King, Connor McClellan and Justin Webb all drove in runs to lead the Papermakers to a 10-0 victory.
“It’s great to get back on the field and pick up where we left off,” Yinger said. “That no hitter will always be special because it was my first one. It felt great to get the season started off right.”
“Kurt and I have been playing together since we were 11- and 12-year-olds. We have such great chemistry,” Barr said. “On that day, he was just dead on. I could have called any pitch, at any time, and he would have hit the target.”
In the first five games of the season, the Papermakers have outscored their opponents 57-9. Camas needs more offense, defense and pitching when Columbia River comes to town Friday. When these two rivals met the last time in the semifinals of the state tournament, the game lasted 11 innings.
The Papermakers are also not about to take Fort Vancouver lightly today. Both games begin at 4 p.m., on the CHS varsity field.
“We had 16 practices before we played a game, and we’ve already scored almost 60 runs,” Barr said. “It’s great to see everyone on the team get a hit when we needed them to. We need to put in that kind of offense every day, and not take any innings off.”