They have nicknames like Doyle, Turtle and Big Red.
They have talent, but put more pride in toughness.
They have made comebacks their trademark, and extra innings their second home.
And they are state champions.
The Kamiakin Braves capped a remarkable month of baseball with another heart-racing finish Saturday evening at Gesa Stadium, scraping past Eastside Catholic 3-2 in the 3A state championship game.
“Dirty” David Marshall threw a seven-inning thrill ride – striking out 11 after walking three in the first two innings — and Logan Jackson drove in Johnny Jansen for the winning run on a dying fly to left.
Coming on the heels of Friday night’s 7-5 semifinal win in extra innings — complete with a four-run rally in the seventh — it almost was more than the nearly 1,000 fans on hand could stand.
“It’s surreal,” said third baseman Drew Oord, a four-year starter. “I don’t even know how to explain — my body’s been tingling ever since that last pitch.
“I’ve never been this happy.”
The Braves’ second state title — the first came in 1994 — came on a big day for Kamiakin High School, as both the softball and girls track titles were announced during the game.
By no means was it easy for the baseball team to make it a triple crown.
First, the Braves (19-9) had to get back in front after losing an early 2-0 lead built by RBI singles from Jansen and Oord. Then they had to stay there against an Eastside Catholic squad (19-6) that had won three games in its final at-bat leading up to state.
Kamiakin’s seventh-inning rally started when Jansen was hit by a pitch with one out and moved up on Jacob Valdez’s single through the hole into left.
Pinch runner Scott Goiri took over for Valdez, and Tylor Machart then singled to center. The hit wasn’t deep enough to score Jansen from, and coach Ryan Carter gave him the stop sign at third. The memo, though, didn’t reach Goiri, who rounded second and went on to third, eventually got caught in a rundown.
Instead of the bases loaded and one out, the Braves had runners on the corners and two outs.
No problem for Jackson, who hit a fly to the gap in left center. It first looked to be an easy hit, but then Crusaders left fielder Travis Ulvestad started catching up to it.
“It was iffy,” Jackson said. “The whole way, I was just get down, get down, get down, and it happened.”
And it gave Kamiakin the lead. All the Braves needed then was for Marshall to finish the big moment and continue pitching way beyond his sophomore years.
Marshall navigated the bottom of the seventh, surrounding a pair of singles with three strikeouts, the last coming against Eastside Catholic shortstop Jeffrey Bohling, author of two walk-off home runs for the Crusaders.
“I was just trying to keep it low, and I ended up getting the out,” said Marshall, who started getting used to pressure situations when his Kennewick American Little League team went to the 10-year-old World Series.
It wasn’t all easy for Marshall. He struggled in his first three innings, walking three as he was striking out six and also giving up an RBI double. He needed 70 pitches to get the first nine outs, just 55 to get the last 12.
“I was just trying to get comfortable,” he said, “let the defense work for me.”
All par for the course for this squad, Carter said.
“It’s like nothing I’ve been part of before,” he said. “They are so tough. There may be teams that have a little more talent than us, but the character, the heart, the toughness they have shown this year is unbelievable.”
They certainly showed it last year, when the blueprint of this team was put together to start in the third-place game at state after most of the then-seniors had to sit out.
And the Braves demonstrated their resilience in the postseason, playing nine playoff games and winning five loser-out games just to get to Gesa.
“Sometimes it wasn’t pretty, but we didn’t cave under the pressure,” Carter said. “We stepped up and took it head on. I’m so excited for these kids, this team and Kamiakin High School.”
Kamiakin 011 000 1 — 3 8 2
Eastside Catholic 001 010 0 — 2 6 2 David Marshall and Ty Earley; Blake Gillespie and Braden Wolgamott. Highlights—Jackson (K) 1x4, RBI; Drew Oord (K) 1x3, RBI; Johnny Jansen (K) 1x2, RBI; Tylor Machart (K) 2x3, R; David Marshall (K) 7IP-6H-2R-1ER-3BB-11K.
Kelso 7, Bishop Blanchet 3 (third place): Quentin Hakkinen carried a no-hitter into the fifth inning, and Nate Grumbois and Tyson Johnson got the Hilanders off to a nice start with RBI singles in the first inning.
Hakkinen went the distance despite giving up seven hits over the final three innings.
Grumbois finished 3-for-4 for Kelso, which claimed its sixth state trophy.
Connor Cellis had a pair of hits for Blanchet, which added a fourth-place trophy to the championship it won in 1996.
Kelso 200 003 2 — 7 15 2
Bishop Blanchet 000 012 0 — 3 7 2 W—Hakkinen. L—Kimpton. Highlights—Holberg (BB) RBI, 3B; Celli (BB) 2x3; Grumbois (K) 3x4, RBI; T. Johnson (K) 2x4, RBI; Ca. Johnson (K) 2x3, 3B, 2 RBI; Feeney (K) 2x4, 2B, RBI; Hakkinen (K) 7IP-7H-3R.