More unfinished business for Camas baseball

The top two teams in the state meet in the semifinals Friday, at Cheney Stadium in Tacoma

The Camas High School baseball players wanted one more crack at the reigning state champions, and they got it Saturday in the Centralia Region Three championship game.

“I wanted it to be Mountain View because they’re in our league, and were the better team on paper,” said head coach Joe Hallead. “The majority of the boys wanted O’Dea. They said we had some unfinished business.”

Conner King laid down a squeeze bunt that sparked a 5-run second inning, and the Papermakers never looked back. Camas added three runs in the fourth and four runs in the fifth to defeat O’Dea 12-3, at Wheeler Field. Kurt Yinger tossed seven strong innings to earn his 10th victory on the mound. He also drove in three runs at the plate.

The win avenges the loss to O’Dea in the state championship game last season. It also gives the Papermakers a return ticket to the final four, where they have even more unfinished business.

“Beating O’Dea was not really revenge, but validation for what we’ve done this season,” Hallead said. “When you get to the final four and lose in the championship game, you never know when you’re going to get another opportunity to get back there. It’s fun to see the kids excited to go back to the final four, and to get another shot at that pinnacle.”

Number-one ranked Camas (25-0) will have a huge challenge against number-two ranked Shorewood (23-2) in the semifinals Friday, at Cheney Stadium in Tacoma. First pitch is scheduled for 10 a.m. The winning team plays for the state championship Saturday, at 4 p.m.

“The games are the fun part. Practice is where you win ball games, and this week is very key for that,” Hallead said. “Our guys are focused on the task at hand, and that is to win every inning, throw strikes, hit the ball and play good defense.”

Camas opened the tournament Saturday, with a 16-3 victory over Glacier Peak. Yinger roped a 2-run home run, and John Welborn and Maxx Gillhamer both knocked in two runs. Jeremy Faulkner scored three times in the offensive outburst, and Gillhamer, Austin Barr, King and Alex Hows each scored two runs. Senior Zach Carter racked up seven strikeouts in six innings pitched.