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If last week did not provide enough evidence, Thursday gave baseball fans all the proof they would need: The Mountain View Thunder rule Class 3A baseball in Southwest Washington.
Zach Torson threw a three-hit shutout, Ryan Johnson and Ross Krafve each drove in two runs, and the Thunder topped Camas 6-0 in the Class 3A District 4 championship game at Propstra Stadium.
It was the third time in eight days the Thunder beat the Papermakers. The two teams came into their final regular-season series last week tied atop the 3A Greater St. Helens League standings, only to have the Thunder sweep the pair. Adding the district title game, Mountain View outscored Camas 23-2.
“This was huge. We wanted to get back at them,” said Torson, alluding to Camas winning these three games in 2011 to take the league and district crowns from the Thunder. “And we really wanted a home playoff game. It gives us a better opportunity to make a good run like Camas did last year.”
Mountain View will play host to a bi-district game Wednesday at Propstra Stadium. A win in that game would guarantee a spot to state regionals — the sweet 16. By taking the district title, the Thunder also have given themselves some insurance. They could lose that first bi-district game but still advance. Camas, as the No. 2 seed, must win its Tuesday game at Auburn Mountainview High School for the chance to reach regionals.
Johnson put Mountain View ahead with a two-run double in the bottom of the third inning, hitting the ball down the left-field line after Riley O’Dell was intentionally walked to put runners on first and second.
“That kind of made me mad, they thought they could get away with that,” Johnson said. “I looked for a good pitch, I took a good hack and put it in a good spot. We got those two runs in, and we were rolling from there.”
Torson found some trouble in the fourth inning. A hit batter, an error and a single loaded the bases with one out. Torson would strike out the next two Papermakers to escape.
“I did the same thing at Camas last week. I’m used to getting out of jams,” Torson said.
Plus, he was confident with the lead he already had.
“I thought two would be enough the way I was cruising,” he said. “It’s always nice to get more runs, though.”
The Thunder, motivated by Torson’s pitching in the top of the fourth, gave him breathing room in the bottom of the inning. Krafve hit a two-run single, and Jake Shelley added a sacrifice fly for a 5-0 lead.
Brandon Rudolph’s double in the fifth made it 6-0.
Torson did not give up a hit in the final three innings. He finished with four strikeouts.
“Camas is a pretty good team,” Mountain View coach Aaron Coiteux said. “We’ve just had a little bit better pitching.”
After winning the first league crown at Mountain View since 1993, the Thunder now have a district title. Coiteux said this was not the goal for this squad.
“Our thought at the beginning of the year is we wanted to be more. We want to do something at state,” Coiteux said. “We take pride in being the best in the area, but we want to keep on performing.”
The Papermakers believe in the Thunder.
Camas coach Joe Hallead used six pitchers Thursday.
“We wanted to give them something different,” Hallead said. “If every batter saw a different pitcher every time up, it might slow them down.”
Technically, it worked. Mountain View scored 17 runs in the first two games. Hallead has seen enough to know he is watching a quality team.
“I’m rooting for Mountain View unless they play us (again). I wish them the best right now,” Hallead said. “They remind me a lot of our team last year.”
The Papermakers reached the state semifinals in 2011. The Thunder hope to make it at least that far, as well.
“We want do play hard every day and prove we are the best team around,” Johnson said. “We want to keep putting good games together and see what we can do this year.”
Bi-district note: Mountain View will host a winner-to-regionals game at Propstra Stadium at 5 p.m. Wednesday. Camas, the No. 2 seed, plays a loser-out game at Auburn Mountainview High School at 4 p.m. Tuesday.
MOUNTAIN VIEW 6, CAMAS 0
Camas 000 000 0—0 3 2
Mountain View 002 310 x—6 9 2
Pitching — Connor McClellan 21/3 IP, loss; Dylan White 1 IP; Nolan Hunt 1 IP; Luke Minder 1/3 IP; Dylan Harris 2/3 IP; Tyler Hallead 2/3 IP. Highlights — Austin Barr 1-3; Nate Culver 1-2; Reilly Hennessey 1-3.
Pitching — Zach Torson 7 IP, win, 4 Ks. Highlights — Torson 3-3, 2B; Michael Rivers 2-3, 2B; Ryan Johnson 1-3, 2B, 2 RBI; Brandon Rudolph 2-3, 2B, RBI; Ross Krafve 1-3, 2 RBI; Jake Shelley 0-2, RBI.