Columbia River captures 3A GSHL baseball title

Chieftains top Mountain View 5-3

By Paul Valencia, Columbian high school sports reporter

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Not satisfied with already clinching the top seed from the Class 3A Greater St. Helens League, the Columbia River baseball players wanted the league title all to themselves.

“We didn’t want to share it with no one,” junior Jace McKinney said.

That is what was on the line Friday at Columbia River, and the Chieftains accomplished what they set out to do.

Columbia River is all alone atop the standings after the final regular-season game.

McKinney had three hits and drove in three runs, and the Chieftains topped second-place Mountain View 5-3.

As the No. 1 seed from the league, the Chieftains advance directly to the district championship game Thursday. Mountain View, as the No. 2 seed, will play Wednesday.

McKinney drove in a run with singles in the third, fifth, and sixth innings.

“Everyone was getting on base in front of me,” McKinney said. “It makes it easy for me to hit when there are runners on base and less than two outs. You just relax and you hit it. Don’t try to do too much with it.”

His first hit tied the game in the third inning. His second hit gave River the lead for good. The Chieftains would extend the advantage to four runs going into the seventh.

Mountain View would get two back on a two-run double from Preston Jones, but River pitcher Taylor Easterly got a strikeout to end the game with two runners in scoring position.

River also played solid defense. Right fielder Jordan Craig had two outfield assists, gunning down Thunder base runners trying to get to third base.

“I really play for the team,” he said.

Craig’s relay went from right field to shortstop to third to end the second inning after Mountain View took a 1-0 lead. He then threw out a Thunder runner trying to extend a double into a triple with a right field-to-second base-to third relay.

“This is my first year on varsity. Nothing better than a league championship,” Craig said.