TACOMA — Actually, there is crying in baseball.
There is crying in baseball when a team’s first loss of the season comes in the state semifinals. There is crying in baseball when the defeat is by one run despite having a runner on second base with no outs in the final inning.
Camas’ state championship hopes were dashed via a 2-1 loss to Shorewood at Cheney Stadium Friday, and try as he might, pitcher Kurt Yinger couldn’t hold back the emotion.
“It’s extremely disappointing,” said Yinger, breaking out into tears. “High school is probably the best four years of your life. I just can’t believe it’s over.”
The Papermakers came into the 3A state semifinals with a record of 25-0 and were fresh off a 12-3 pounding of defending state champion O’Dea in the quarterfinals. But they had never faced a pitcher like Shorewood’s Blake Snell, who has tallied 118 strikeouts in 56 innings while owning an earned run average of 1.00.
He didn’t disappoint Friday.
The senior kept Camas baffled all game, recording 10 strikeouts in the complete game victory and allowing just three hits.
Austin Barr confessed that Snell was the best pitcher his team has faced all year, and Camas coach Joe Hallead was equally impressed.
“The first thing you do is tip your hat to No. 4 (Snell),” said Hallead, whose team lost in the state championship game last year. “He pitched a good game…this game lived up to the billing.”
Especially since Yinger, who also pitched seven innings, was doing everything possible to keep the Papermakers close.
The game was scoreless through the first five innings despite both teams giving themselves chances to get on the scoreboard.
Camas right fielder Justin Webb gunned down Max Jacobs at home plate to stifle a Shorewood opportunity in the fourth, and Papermakers first baseman Jeremy Faulkner was caught in a pickle after reaching second with no outs in the fifth.
In the sixth inning, however, Shorewood (23-2) made its dent.
Christian Heideger reached first base for the Thunderbirds on an error, advanced to second when Ben Andrews walked, then moved to third upon Jeremy Edwards’ bunt single. One at-bat later, Trevor Mitsui, who is hitting .712 with 13 home runs, ripped a two-run single to left field.
The Papermakers had one more rally in them, though. Shortstop Logan Grindy led off the seventh inning with a home run. Then, Yinger walked, and pinch runner Jon Welborn moved to second base on a wild pitch with nobody out.
That’s when Shorewood coach Wyatt Tonkin ran out to chat with Snell…upon Snell’s request.
“I asked him to come out to talk,” Snell said smiling. “I needed a joke or something to loosen me up.”
It seemed to have worked. Snell retired the next three batters, leaving Welborn stranded on third as the Thunderbirds celebrated.
Mitsui finished the game 3 for 4 with two RBI. No Camas player had more than one hit.
Camas will play Kamiakin in Saturday’s third-place game at 10 a.m. Papermakers coach Joe Hallead said the contest will be “pressure-free,” but like his star pitcher, had trouble holding back his tears Friday.
“I feel like I’m losing 12 sons,” said Hallead, referring to his senior class. “I love these guys. It’s hard.”
SHOREWOOD 2, CAMAS 1
Shorewood 000 002 0–2 10 0
Camas 000 000 1–1 3 3
Pitching — Blake Snell 7 IP, win, 10K. Highlights — Trevor Micsui 3-4 2RBI; Connor McKeever 2-4 2-2B; Jeremy Edwards 2-3; Duncan Hendrickson 2-4.
Pitching — Kurt Yinger 7 IP, loss, 3 K. Highlights — Nate Culver 1-3; Austin Barr 1-3 2B; Logan Grindy 1-2 HR.