When the Camas baseball team hit the field this season, it had several players battling a long list of injuries.
Regardless, the team has battled its way to an impressive 8-2 record, including a 4-2 victory over Skyview, one of the top-ranked 4A teams in the state, on March 28.
A nagging back injury has kept expected No. 1 pitcher Riley Sinclair off the mound for most of this season. Sinclair returned March 28 for the battle against Skyview, striking out six batters and limiting the Storm to one hit without giving up a walk in his 4.1 innings of relief work. Camas is now 3-0 in 4A Greater St. Helens League play.
“We are a little banged up, but we should be firing on all cylinders after spring break,” head coach Stephen Short said.
Among the Papermakers with injuries this season: senior catcher Grant Heiser, who has been playing through tendonitis, and infielder Jake Blair, who was pulled from a March 26 game against Heritage due to a slight groin injury.
The starter’s injuries have given a few younger players an unexpected chance to play this season — and Short said they’ve risen to the challenge.
Sophomore Cameron Smith came in for Blair in the game against Heritage, which Camas won 11-0. Smith had an RBI sacrifice fly and then drove in two more runs on a base hit while doing a solid defensive job at shortstop.
Playing at designated hitter in the Heritage game was sophomore Lucas Warner, who earned his first varsity start after going 5-for-5 in a 12-1 win against Ontario High School in eastern Oregon.
“I was just seeing the ball better, and I’m happy for a chance to play and get some at bats,” said Warner.
“He’s just a team guy — always happy, always smiling, always picking teammates up. He’s a great kid,” Heiser said about Warner, who backs up Grant Heiser behind the plate.
Camas pitcher Luke Brewer struck out six Timberwolves without giving up a walk in the 11-0 blowout victory, which ended in the sixth inning due to the 10-run rule.
Papermakers catch fans’ attention after Skyview win
The Papermakers’ newfound depth helped Camas in its game against Skyview, earning the team a win that surprised many local baseball fans who closely follow the Storm, a team that has, according to Short, set the standard for the league over the past several seasons.
After Camas went down 2-0 in the second inning, Papermakers senior Riley Buehler cracked a single. Tyler Former did the same, and Heiser loaded the bases after being hit by a pitch. The table was set, and Jacob Trupp took full advantage with a grand slam over the left-field fence.
The 6-foot-7, 230-pound senior has been hitting the ball with confidence and power all season, Short said.
“He’s just a baseball junkie who plays with passion and enthusiasm and enjoys being on the field with the guys,” Short said of Trupp.
Trupp’s grand slam gave the Papermakers a 4-2 lead — an ideal situation for pitcher Riley Sinclair to enter the game in relief and prove he was healed and ready to throw some heat this season.
Short said he was playing it on the cautious side with Sinclair early in the season, but expressed confidence that his ace pitcher was ready to make his return against Skyview.
“Our depth has been tested, and so far we’ve answered the test because these guys know how to get after it. They know how to compete as a team,” Short said.