TACOMA — The Camas baseball team did not attain its ultimate goal this weekend, but it do something every athlete aspires toward when the season begins — win its final game.
The Papermakers defeated Kamiakin 6-4 at Cheney Stadium on Saturday in the 3A state championship third-place game, a result that, in coach Joe Hallead’s mind, cemented their legacy as the program’s greatest team ever.
“This is the best team I’ve ever coached. Even though we finished third in state this year and second last year, this is the best team. Not to take anything away from last year’s team,” Hallead said. “After last year, if you would have asked me how we were going to be this year, I would have said ‘we’ll be solid. We’ll make a run.’ But to win our first 25 games? This was a special team.”
Camas players were in tears following Friday’s 2-1 loss to Shorewood, the Papermakers only defeat of the season. And while Hallead conceded that Saturday’s consolation game was going to be “pressure-free,” that certainly didn’t translate to effort-free.
Camas (25-1) took a 2-0 lead in the first inning when Jeremy Faulkner singled home John Welborn and Austin Barr, but Kamiakin was not about to go quietly. The Braves, ranked No. 8 in Washington, cut the deficit in half in the third inning, then tied the score in the fourth, then took a 3-2 lead in the sixth when Tylor Machart scored on an error.
Enter Camas shortstop Logan Grindy.
The senior had been struggling offensively for much of the season, but rediscovered his swing Friday by hitting a solo home run to bring the Papermakers to within one run in the seventh inning. Saturday, he one-upped himself.
With two outs in the bottom of the sixth, Grindy socked a three-run home run to put Camas ahead 6-3. Grindy had just three home runs on the year heading into this weekend, but the big stage appeared to have produced big hits.
“Logan can say he hit the game-winning home run in his final at-bat in high school,” Hallead said. “That’s what he does. He’s a big-game player.”
Zach Carter earned the win for Camas, pitching five innings, allowing two earned runs and striking out three. Maxx Gillhamer was the only Papermaker to tally multiple hits Saturday, the senior going 2 for 3 on the day.
Camas spent much of the year as the No. 1 ranked team in the state and earned national recognition as well. Hallead made the point that his team has spent much of the year under the spotlight and never let it get to them.
“These guys felt pressure the whole year,” Hallead said. “They had the No. 1 ranking in the state, were ranked nationally, and they didn’t let it affect them. I’m so proud of them. It was a great season.”