The Camas baseball team scored six runs in the first four innings of Friday’s game at Battle Ground, but this showcase of fiery competitors was just getting started.
The Tigers scratched out three runs in the bottom of the fourth to cut the deficit to two.
The Papermakers countered with two more runs in the top of the fifth to extend their lead to four.
Battle Ground kept chipping away with a run in the sixth and seventh, but couldn’t get any closer as Camas carved out an 8-6 victory.
“They’re a team that really competes. We just wanted to work hard and come together and show that we can compete just as well as we do,” said CHS junior outfielder Luke Bruno.
Head coach Stephen Short told the Papermakers to execute and compete for seven innings. When the game was over, they earned Battle Ground’s respect.
“Probably the greatest compliment you could be given came from their head coach,” Short explained. “He said, ‘This is a different group you got this year. Those guys really know how to compete.’ And that was the difference in this game.”
Sam Christopher was relentless on the mound for Camas. Although Battle Ground scored five runs, he continued to pitch for six innings and gained six strikeouts.
“I was kind of anxious because I knew it was going to be a big game,” Christopher said. “I just trusted my team and battled out there. I knew it was going to be a dog fight.”
Bruno went 2-for-3 at the plate with a double and 2 RBI. Grant Heiser, Taylor Adams, Tanner Howington and Taylor Birchem also drove in runs for the Papermakers.
“It’s good to see a lot of the bats coming alive. We got guys down 0-and-2, battling back to draw a walk or get a base hit,” Bruno said. “It’s definitely a chain reaction. Once one guy gets on base, we all get pretty excited in the dugout. And it builds, and we put up some runs.”
The bond these guys have goes back to football. Adams, Trevor Bentley, Bruno, AJ Geaslen, Kristian Hellberg, Howington, Ryan Kempf and Sam Malychewski all were role players on the state-championship-winning Camas team.
“And then, we all come together and play baseball,” said Christopher, who also plays tennis. “I love playing with athletes, not just baseball players, because they know how to compete.”
Short said he would rather have ballplayers who compete in multiple sports throughout the offseason rather than just train for baseball.
It’s paid off for these Papermakers on the diamond.
“I don’t think there’s any greater pressure in high school sports than playing in the state championship game at the 4A level and winning it,” Short said. “You can go up and down this lineup and see guys who just grind out at-bats, put balls in play and give us a chance to win games.”
Camas (7-2) plays at Union today, hosts Battle Ground Monday, May 1, and goes back to Battle Ground Wednesday, May 3. All three games begin at 4 p.m.
Short can’t think of a better time to be in a Papermaker uniform. He just hopes these boys can continue to thrive under the pressure.
“I’m proud of these guys for the way they are competing and sticking together,” Short said. “We’ve had some adversity. There’s no doubt about it, but they are doing a really good job of sticking together and playing for each other.”