PASCO — Daniel Copeland will cherish the memories.
It’s been an unforgettable season for the Skyview baseball team — and not just because the Storm won 22 games against just six losses. Not just because of the impressive second-place finish in the Class 4A state tournament, either.
Sure, a state championship would have been sweeter — but it wasn’t in the cards as Richland (18-10) rallied for three runs in the seventh inning to take a 5-3 victory in Saturday’s title tilt at Gesa Stadium.
It stung, but Copeland embraced the overall experience that brought Skyview there.
“I’m not going to remember any wins or losses,” the Gonzaga-bound senior said of the season. “I’m going to remember the guys that I played every single game with. We’re an amazing team, just a phenomenal group of guys. We bonded more on this team than I think I’ve ever bonded with a team.
“It was a great season. We came up short at the end but definitely the thing I’ll remember most is being able to share the field with these guys every single day.”
It’s a tight team with 12 seniors, some of whom have played together since Little League. They were freshman when Seth Johnson took over as head coach and made a second straight trip to the Final Four, moving up a notch after placing third last year.
“It’s been an incredible ride,” Johnson said. “They showed up every single day to compete.”
Athletically and academically — Skyview was the 4A academic champ in baseball with a 3.71 GPA — and even in pickle ball.
The Storm jumped out to a 2-0 lead over Richland in the first inning on a two-run single by — who else? — Ryan Pitts, the hero of Friday’s semifinal game.
But Richland answered right back in the top of the second, taking advantage of two hits and a walk. Skyview managed just two hits off Taylor Johnson the rest of the way.
Storm starter Cooper Barnum, a sophomore, held the Bombers at bay but was lifted in the seventh after giving up a leadoff single. Pitts came on in relief – a combination that was worked well for Skyview this season. But not this time.
After a sacrifice bunt, Pitts loaded the bases on a pair of walks. He then fielded a squeeze bunt and threw home, but Drew Davis slide in safely and Josh Mendoza followed with a two-run single to give Richland the 5-2 lead.
And, this time, there was no comeback for the Storm, which was shooting for the second championship in school history after winning in 2013. They showed some life when Michael Hickey led off with a single. Brent Monahan came in as a courtesy runner, but was called for interference trying to break up a double play.
Johnson didn’t lament the couple of close calls that didn’t go Skyview’s way.
“Tough calls happen,” he said. “That’s not why we lost the game. All the credit goes to Richland. They put pressure on us the entire game and they deserved to win. They outplayed us today.”