The Camas-Washougal 13- to 15-year-old Babe Ruth all-stars loaded the bases with two outs in the last inning Saturday, but couldn’t come through with the clutch hit it needed to stay alive in the Pacific Northwest Regional tournament at Louis Bloch Park, in Camas.
“I’m proud of the way the boys played. They played their hearts out,” said manager Brendan Ford. “A few things didn’t go our way. If they had, it could have been a different result. But the boys kept their heads up, and I couldn’t ask for anything more.”
Grant Heiser and Camden Ford drove in runs for Camas-Washougal, but Ephrata held on for a 5-2 victory.
Ephrata scored four runs in the first inning. Zach Collins hung tough on the mound for Camas-Washougal and gained seven strikeouts through 5.2 innings pitched.
“After the first inning, I knew I had to come back,” Collins said. “I kept telling myself, ‘throw strikes and get the outs so we can get right back up to bat and score some runs.'”
Collins got his groove back in the second innings after back-to-back strikeouts and a ground out. He stranded a runner on third base in the next two innings, and retired the side again in the fifth inning.
“When they got on base, it was hard,” Collins said. “I knew I just had to focus on the catcher’s glove and throw some strikes to get us out of the inning.”
Collins tipped his cap to the home crowd. He fed off their energy.
“That got my adrenaline going. That’s what motivated me to throw strikes,” he said. “Just to hear that crowd cheering for us. It’s a great feeling knowing the community is behind you.”
Carter Sutton bunted for a base hit with one out in the fifth inning. He came around to score on an RBI double by Heiser to get Camas-Washougal on the board. Ephrata added an insurance run with two outs in the sixth.
Heiser and Shane Jamison started off the seventh inning with back-to-back singles, but the next batter grounded into a double play. Ford delivered an RBI single with two outs to cut the deficit to three. Kirk Brown reached first to load the bases, before Ephrata got the final out.
Brendan Ford gets sad thinking about not being able to coach these boys again. He’s been watching them play ball since they were 6.
“Remember that small things in baseball make a big difference,” Ford said. “If they stay focused on the small things, they have a bright future ahead of them.”