CENTRALIA — While taking celebratory photos at Ed Wheeler Field, Camas baseball coach Joe Hallead let it be known that “this is one of the most successful senior classes to ever come through this program.”
Senior Blake Jackson took exception.
“The most successful,” he said.
Well, not yet, necessarily. But the Papermakers just took one step closer to that label.
Camas (25-0) pummeled reigning state champion O’Dea 12-3 in the Class 3A state quarterfinals Saturday. It was a rematch of last year’s state championship game, in which O’Dea walked away with the win.
This time, things were different. Much different. And even though a state title is the ultimate goal, making the final four still feels pretty sweet.
“It’s extremely significant for this team,” said Hallead, whose team will play Shorewood of Shoreline in the semifinals Friday at Cheney Stadium in Tacoma. “We set goals at the beginning of the year, and winning the regional championship and going back to the final four was one of them. This is just a culmination of having a dream and going out with it.”
O’Dea took a 1-0 lead in the first inning, but Camas responded thunderously in the second. Logan Grindy started the rally with one of his three singles on the day, coming home three at-bats later on a Jeremy Faulkner double. Conner King then bunted home Alex Hows, who had walked. Then, Faulkner scored on an overthrow on that same play. After a sacrifice fly from Maxx Gillhammer, a double by Justin Webb and an O’Dea error, Camas found itself ahead 5-1 after two.
That would be more than enough for ace Kurt Yinger, who struck out five and allowed just two earned runs in the complete-game victory. He also had a two-run double in the fourth inning.
Did he see this as a revenge game?
“It’s nice to beat the team that beat you last year,” said Yinger, labeled “one of the best pitchers in the state” by Hallead after the game. “But at the same time, these teams are so different, so it’s really just another regional game.”
Yinger finished the game 2 for 4 from the plate. Grindy was 3 for 4 and Webb was 2 for 4 with a double.
O’Dea pitcher Keenan Forch was impressed, and knows who he’s rooting for at state.
“They’re all good players. You miss your pitch, you miss your spot, they’re going to hit it,” Forch said of Camas. “We’ve been pretty successful the past couple years. I’d rather have it be them than anyone else.”
Round of 16: Camas 16, Glacier Peak 3 — Camas was in control from the early going, leading 8-2 after the third inning.
Faulkner and and Culver each went 2 for 3 for the Papermakers.
Round of 16: O’Dea 14, Mountain View 12 — O’Dea’s real drama Saturday came in its first game of the day.
With his team leading 12-6 in the fifth inning, Mountain View catcher P.J. Jones was called out at third while going for a triple. He then popped up to argue with the umpire and was ejected.
Just after, Mountain View coach Aaron Coiteux, who was trying to restrain Jones, made what appeared to be accidental contact with the umpire, but was tossed from the game nonetheless.
“I’m running out there to try and control the situation and (the umpire) said I was charging him. It was brutal,” Coiteux said. “That was a game changer.”
Sure seemed like it. The Irish scored eight runs over the next two innings, including six runs in the sixth to take the lead for good.
Jones said afterward that he felt like he let the team down, but Coiteux pointed out this was still the best season the Thunder have had.
Justin Rinta went 2 for 2 for Mountain View and scored three runs. Cameron Westphal went 2 for 2 with a triple for the Thunder.