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Aug. 12, 2022

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Columbia River beats Ellensburg 1-0 to reach 2A state baseball title game

Rapids rally in seventh with no hits and Boyle pitches shutout

By , Columbian Assistant Sports Editor
Published:
3 Photos
Columbia River's Casey Struckmeier (15) celebrates after making the final out on a force play at second during the Rapids' 1-0 win over Ellensburg in the 2A state baseball semifinal at Yakima County Stadium on Friday, May 27, 2022.
Columbia River's Casey Struckmeier (15) celebrates after making the final out on a force play at second during the Rapids' 1-0 win over Ellensburg in the 2A state baseball semifinal at Yakima County Stadium on Friday, May 27, 2022. (Tim Martinez/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

YAKIMA – The Columbia River baseball team followed a familiar recipe to the 2A state title game – small ball and a big effort from Sam Boyle.

The Rapids scored the game’s lone run in the top of the seventh on a rally in which the ball never left the infield grass, and then the senior lefthander closed the door for a 1-0 win over Ellensburg on Friday.

“We always play small ball,” Boyle said. “We know that it’s hard, especially when it gets to the seventh inning of that semifinal game, it’s hard to make a play. Putting pressure on people, especially high schoolers, they’re going to make mistakes.”

Columbia River will play Tumwater for the state championship at 4 p.m. Saturday at Yakima County Stadium.

Boyle led of the top of the seventh with a walk. The Rapids then tried two sacrifice bunts, but the Bulldogs could not record an out on either.

9 Photos
Columbia River's Sam Boyle (13) bumps Chris Parkin in celebration after the Rapids' 1-0 win over Ellensburg in the 2A state baseball semifinal at Yakima County Stadium on Friday, May 27, 2022.
Columbia River semifinal baseball Photo Gallery

Noah Larson then hit a ground to a drawn-in second baseman, but the low throw was dropped by the catcher, allowing Boyle to score from third.

“I was pretty sure I was out, but my teammates say that the catcher dropped the ball or something,” Boyle said. “But the throw would have beat me, so I would have been out.”

River coach Stephen Donohue said that’s just Rapids baseball.

“If you ask people around Clark County what does River like to do, they’re going to say they like to use the short game and bunt,” Donohue said. “It’s like I told them after the game, nobody likes to bunt, even when you’re in Little League, you don’t like bunting. But we talk about it every day when we work on it, when it’s a big game or you have to execute in the playoffs, you got to get bunts down, you got to play the short game to win games.”

And that was the situation against Ellensburg pitcher Tieton Estey, who limited the Rapids to just three hits in 6.1 innings, as he matched Boyle zero for zero.

“Like we say in the dugout when (Boyle) is going, we just need to get him a run and we’ll win,” Donohue said. “I would have like a couple of more, but …”

Boyle retired the first 11 batters he faced, including seven of the nine by strikeout. He would finish with eight strikeouts.

“I should have been doubling up on my off-speed pitch,” Boyle said. “I was getting a little too predictable, with just my fastball. … It was probably my downfall today. I probably should have thrown more – I mean, not really, because I gave up zero.”

Donohue called Boyle unbelievable all season.

“It’s the best season I’ve ever seen from a high school pitcher since I’ve been coaching,” Donohue said. “And I’ve seen some good ones in our program.”

And the Rapids were solid behind Boyle after the strikeouts dried up, turning double plays in the sixth and seventh inning. Austin Habets started a double play from third after Ellensburg opened the bottom of the seventh with a single.

“He’s more of middle infielder, and we needed someone to play third,” Donohue said. “At the middle of the year, we put him over there and he’s still trying to learn the position. And earlier in the year, he might not have attacked that ball. He wouldn’t have cut across and let it go to the shortstop, and we don’t turn two. For him to have the confidence to go get it and spin and throw to second is awesome.”

And now it’s to the title game, something Boyle has dreamed of but never knew if it would be realized.

“We knew we had a whole new team, and we had to build that together,” Boyle said. “And it’s just (great) to see how much we’ve grown as a team.”

COLUMBIA RIVER 1, ELLENSBURG 0

River      000         000         1—1       3              1

Ellensburg           000         000         0—0       4              2

Columbia River

Pitching – Sam Boyle 7 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 8 K, 0 BB, win. Highlights – Austin Habets 1-3; Chris Parkin 2-3; Sam Boyle 0-2, run, BB.

Ellensburg

Pitching – Tieton Estey 6.1 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 5 K, 2 BB, loss; Brayden Twaites 0.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 K, 0 BB. Highlights – Cade Gibson 1-3; Garrett Leon 2-3; Jack Morrill 1-3.

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