The Camas varsity baseball team is proving it can play toe-to-toe with one of the best teams in the state.
Now, the challenge is to get past Skyview, which finished third in the state last season and competes with Camas in the 4A Greater St. Helens league.
Most of Skyview’s starters from last season are still on the field, including ace pitcher Daniel Copeland, who signed with Gonzaga University to pitch for the Bulldogs next season.
“Skyview is a state contending caliber team and there’s no doubt we were facing one of the top arms in all of Washington,” Camas’ head coach Stephen Short said.
With the baseball season halfway through league play, all of the Papermakers’ losses have been to Skyview. On April 18, during their third game against Skyview, it appeared that the Papermakers were finally going to get by their top rival. Michael Quintana started for the Papermakers, but it was a true game time decision by the coaching staff as to who would pitch.
“We really didn’t know who we wanted to throw, so starting was unexpected for him, but he’s a gamer,” says Short.
Quintana used his breaking ball in the strike zone, allowing two runs on five hits in his five-and-a-third innings of work.
Catcher Grant Heiser led the Papermakers with two hits in four at bat. He also made some key plays on defense, which included throwing out a runner at second base late in the game. “Skyview has always been a tough one, they grind it out and basically play hard until the last second of every game, they never give up and always push us to our best,” Heiser said.
Coach Short said he is thrilled with the development of Heiser, a junior this season.
“He’s the top catcher in our area and he’s good in all facets of the game. But, he’s even a better kid and earns everything he gets,” Short said of Heiser.
The Papermakers were in the game until the very end. Skyview didn’t take the lead until the top of the ninth inning, when they scored on an error. The final score in the nail-biter of a contest was Skyview 4, Camas 3.
“I thought we did enough to win the game, but that’s baseball sometimes,” Short said.
Papermakers follow loss with shutout
The very next day, the Papermakers made a statement with a 9-0 shutout against Union.
Camas pitcher Ryan Behnke threw a complete game shutout with zero runs on just one hit over seven innings. The Papermaker bats came alive, racking up 11 hits. Josh Mansur, Jake Blair and Trevor Bentley all had multiple hits for Camas. Mansur led all batters with three hits.
“We are getting better, we just have to keep building off the successes we have and learn from the mistakes,” Short said.
Camas has four wins and three losses in league play, following the win over Union.
Skyview sits on top with eight wins and only one loss in league play. Camas has no more scheduled games against Skyview, but the Papermakers seem confident they could trounce Skyview in the postseason, if the two teams are matched up again.
“I love my teammates and I wouldn’t trade them for the world. We stick together and have each other’s backs,” Heiser said. “We will grind it out and this won’t be the last of us this season.”