Seven victories in the last eight varsity games breathes new life into the Camas High School baseball program. The junior varsity Papermakers are riding a 14-game winning streak.
“Winning cures all,” said head coach Stephen Short. “The kids are starting to see all of their hard work produce. Now, they just have to grind it out and keep getting better every day.”
Camas made their new head coach proud again Monday, at Skyview. Sam Jones drove in the tying run with two outs in the top of the seventh inning. Tucker Parker, Tyler Blackwell, Cameron Pierce and Jones delivered base hits with two outs in the eighth inning. The Papermakers tacked on four runs in the extra frame to win the game 5-1.
“This is the team we believed we were from the beginning,” Jones said. “We’re just trying to play good baseball and have some fun.”
Hunter Bruno allowed just two hits and two walks in seven innings pitched for Camas. Skyview loaded the bases in the bottom of the first inning and scored a run on a pass ball. Bruno and the Papermakers retired the next 16 batters in a row, before the Storm finally got a hit in the sixth inning. Bruno then shut down the last six batters he faced.
Skyview pitcher Kordell Vasbinder kept the Papermakers off balance for six innings. Ryan Kempf led off the seventh inning for Camas with a pinch hit infield single. He came around to score the tying run on Jones’ two-out hit into right field.
“I just tried to put the ball in play by taking it the opposite way,” Jones said. “It ended up working out.”
The Papermakers got three quick outs in the bottom of the seventh inning, before going back to work at the plate. Sam Christopher served a single into right field with one out. Liam Fitzpatrick grounded into a potential double play. Skyview threw Christopher out at second, but Fitzpatrick beat the throw to first to keep the inning alive.
Parker singled into left field and Fitzpatrick moved to second base. Blackwell laced a single into right field and Fitzpatrick slid into home safely to give Camas a 2-1 lead.
“I like being up there knowing there’s a lot on the line,” Blackwell said. “I just let my body react and play.”
Short said Blackwell always seems to have a bat in his hands when the score is close.
“Any time there is a big moment in the game, he seems to be right in the middle of it,” Short said. “The best thing about Tyler is, he’s a great competitor and he earns everything he gets. It’s good to see guys like that find success.”
Pierce followed Blackwell’s lead with an RBI single in the eighth inning Monday. Parker scored the third run on a pass ball. Jones beat the throw to first base while Blackwell came in to score the fourth run. Jones then shut the door on Skyview by striking out three batters in the bottom of the eighth.
Camas outlasted Union 15-8 on April 28. The Papermakers led 9-0, before the Titans scored seven runs in the bottom of the fourth inning. Camas put the game out of reach with five more runs in the seventh. Bruno drove in five runs and scored twice. Fitzpatrick and Conlee both knocked in two runs. Christopher and Kempf scored three times each.
“Hitting is contagious,” Bruno said. “Everything is feeling good right now. We want to take the momentum we have right now into the playoffs and see where it takes us.”
The Papermakers (10-8) have their sights set on Mountain View for Senior Day Friday. First pitch is at 4 p.m., in Camas.
“We’ve stuck with the same mentality of getting better each day,” Fitzpatrick said. “We’ve finally clicked. We’re going full stride at the right time.”