Both games between Camas and Union went down to the wire, but the Papermakers proved they have better balance and a little bit more luck than their rivals from down the hill.
“Our goal is to somehow, some way end up with one more run than the other team,” said head coach Steve Short. “In both games, we were able to do that. At the end of the day, I’m smiling.”
Camas and Union needed to play nine innings to determine a winner Wednesday. R.J. Quirante led off the top of the inning with a mammoth home run over the new Camas Baseball sign in left field to give the Titans a 7-6 advantage. Sam Christopher quickly bounced back on the mound and the Papermakers got the next three batters out.
Zach Pfeifer kept hope alive for Camas by reaching first base with two outs in the bottom of the ninth. Cole Hurtarte came into pinch run for Pfeifer and stole second. Taylor Adams then placed the ball between the shortstop and left fielder to bring Hurtarte home with the tying run. He succeeded in taking second base while Union failed in its attempt to make a play at home plate.
“I was happy to have the opportunity,” Adams said. “I thought it was caught when I first hit it, but it dropped. I guess my adrenaline just took over from there.”
The sophomore didn’t hesitate to steal third base on a dropped ball in front of the plate. The catcher tried to throw him out, but the third baseman lost the ball in the sun and it skipped into the outfield. Adams got up and dashed home to score the winning run.
“I thought I was out for sure, but then I saw the ball get by and I had to go home,” Adams said. “It was so surreal. All of the sudden, I turn around and my whole team is on me. The first guy I saw was Luke Grindy. He gave me a big hug.”
The 8-7 victory was the seventh in a row for the Papermakers. Jared Bentley finished 4-for-5 with three infield singles and two game-tying runs. Liam Fitzpatrick pitched six gutsy innings. He went 3-for-3 in the batter’s box and drove in the run that forced extra innings.
“I just wanted to give the team a chance to win,” Fitzpatrick said. “I knew our offense would have my back. They showed it when we were down 5-3.”
Adams and Hurtarte had already played in the junior varsity game before they were both needed in the extra frames. Short relied on the details provided by his coaching staff to make those calls. He said Adams was aggressive with the bat, but also smart in taking a pitch and allowing Hurtarte to steal second and get into scoring position.
“I don’t know much about these kids, but they’re telling me they can hit and steal bases. So we throw them into the fire and see what happens.”
The win helped Camas soothe the heartache after Hunter Bruno broke his hand before the game even started. He collided with a teammate while trying to catch a fly ball in the outfield. Bruno pitched all seven innings in wins against Skyview and Mountain View. He also hits third in the order, but might not be able to play for the rest of the season.
“It was just a fluke, crazy deal,” Short said. “It’s unfortunate, but you can’t just sit there and cry about it. You just have to get the next guy in and let them have a chance to be successful.”
Camas outlasted Union 2-1 March 28, at Union High School. Taylor Birchem drove in the tying run with the bases loaded in the top of the sixth inning.
“I just wanted to get something in the air,” Birchem said, after Camas hit into a double play with the bases loaded in the fourth. “When that ball got down for a hit, I was excited. I was ecstatic.”
The bases were still loaded in the sixth when Trevor Bentley bunted in the go-ahead run for Camas.
“Just getting that bunt down meant everything,” Bentley said. “It was a hard position to be in, but it was successful.”
Tucker Parker pitched all seven innings to secure the victory. Union scored a run in the bottom of the first inning before Parker and the Papermakers shut the Titans down.
“I tried to make them put balls in play and let my defense do the work,” Parker said. “We kept putting good swings on the ball. We knew those runs would come eventually.
“It shows that we’ve got a lot of heart,” he added. “We all want the same thing, and that’s to win a ball game.”
The one team Camas has been unable to solve is Battle Ground. The Tigers cooled off the Papermakers with a 6-5 victory in eight innings Friday.
These teams play one more time Monday, in Battle Ground.