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Union plays spoiler in 4A GSHL baseball finale, downing Battle Ground 6-3

Titans 'just have fun' in win while Tigers settle for No. 2 spot in league behind Camas

By Will Denner, Columbian staff writer
Published: April 26, 2024, 10:03pm

Union played free and embraced the fun.

Battle Ground had a lot of pressure on its side.

The Titans were already eliminated from postseason contention going into Friday’s 4A Greater St. Helens League baseball finale against the Tigers, who controlled their own destiny to grab a share of the league title and the top seed for the 4A bi-district playoffs. Without a path to the playoffs, Union players received a pregame message from coach Lee Hunter that stuck with them throughout the game.

“Lee came out to us and says, ‘Guys, just have fun today,” Union senior Ty Sutton said. “‘Just let it rip. … Do whatever you want. Just have fun today. Take it all in because we don’t have much time left together.'”

Mission accomplished.

In their third to last game of the season, the Titans grabbed a 6-3 win on their home field to avoid a series sweep while throwing a wrench into the Tigers’ plans.

The result, combined with Camas’ 4-3 win over Skyview, gave the Papermakers (13-6, 6-3 4A GSHL) the outright league title while Battle Ground (13-7, 5-4) and Skyview (10-8, 4-5) finished behind them in that order. All three teams will play in next weekend’s 4A bi-districts, though the latter two will be in loser-out games.

16 Photos
Union sophomore Parker Christian, right, and Battle Ground's Cooper McGowan collide at second base Friday, April 26, 2024, during Union’s 6-3 win against Battle Ground at Union High School.
Baseball: Battle Ground at Union Photo Gallery

“It’s tough,” Battle Ground coach Seth Johnson said. “You have your own destiny in your hands, have an opportunity to win a game and win a league championship. But more importantly than the league championship would be having the No. 1 (bi-district) seed. … That was disappointing. Told them I was proud of them. We do have more baseball ahead of us — that’s the best part about this.”

While Union  (7-12, 3-6) was outmatched in a pair of losses to Battle Ground on Monday and Tuesday, Titans players and coaches agreed game three was a team win in the truest sense, showcasing contributions from up and down the lineup.

No moment reflected it better than the top of the fifth inning, when Union put four runs on the board to break a 2-2 tie.

Blake Sutton, Ty Sutton and Zayon Marguth each led off with singles to load the bases with no outs. That set up Parker Christian for a line-drive single to bring in one run, followed by a Carston Mallory RBI sacrifice fly. Then with two outs, Clayton Holder launched a deep fly ball to the warning track in left field for a two-run double.

“Today we came together as a team. We had positive energy the whole time,” Ty Sutton said.

“Clay Holder, I’ve never seen him hit a ball that far. He did probably 340 (feet) to the warning track. He stepped up today. Parker Christian, he loves to let it rip sometimes, but when we had guys in scoring position we got him around. He manned up there and put the ball in play. I think it was a lot of good energy today. Normally, we get a little bit down, but today I think we definitely came together as a team.”

Combined with Holder and Christian each going for two hits and two RBI, plus Blake Sutton and Ty Sutton adding 2-for-3 efforts, the Titans got six solid innings from starting pitcher Rylan Howe, who gave up three earned runs with four strikeouts and two walks.

Once Howe exited to begin the bottom of the seventh, Marguth provided the gutsiest moment to earn the save.

Battle Ground had two runners in scoring position with two outs and couldn’t have scripted a better scenario with its next two batters due up: Jackson Hotchkiss, one of the state’s top-ranked prospects, and cleanup hitter James Gill, who went 3-for-3 with two doubles and an RBI.

Marguth threw three straight balls to Hotchkiss, but worked back to a full count and struck out Hotchkiss swinging to end the game.

“(Union) lost two out of three against all three (4A GSHL) teams, but they could’ve won two out three against all three teams,” Johnson said. “If you don’t come ready to play, you’re going to get beat with our four teams being pretty even. I think they came ready to play better than we did.”

The Titans didn’t have as much on the line, but they still had plenty to play for. With only two games left next week, seniors like Ty Sutton got a memorable one Friday they’ll look back on fondly.

“Today is definitely a game I’ll remember,” he said. “It was nice not having pressure on us, just having fun and having a good day at the yard.

UNION 6, BATTLE GROUND 3

Union         002 040 0—6 11 0

B.G.        100 101 0—3 9 3

Union

Pitching — Rylan Howe 6 IP, 7 H, 0 R, 4 K, 2 BB, win; Zayon Marguth 1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 K, 0 BB. Highlights — Drew Hartenstein 1-3, 1 R, 1 SB; Blake Sutton 2-3, 1 R; Ty Sutton 2-3, 1 R, 2B, 1 SB; Zayon Marguth 1-2, 2 R, 1 SB; Parker Christian 2-3 1 R, 2 RBI; Carston Mallory RBI; Clayton Holder 2-4, 2B, 2 RBI.

Battle Ground

Pitching — Noah Newton 4 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 1 K, 2 BB; Jacob Long 0.2 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 0 K, 0 BB, loss; Ethan Adams 2.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 2 K, 1 BB. Highlights — Noah Salyers 1-4; Jackson Hotchkiss 1-4; James Gill 3-3, 2 R, 2B, RBI; Jayden Sivits 1-3, RBI; Gavin Blanton 1-3, RBI; Ethan Adams 2-2.

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