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Almira Coulee Hartline takes 'silver' in state 1B baseball

May 30—EPHRATA — The Almira Coulee Hartline baseball team finished a successful season with an appearance in the state 1B final four, falling to DeSales Catholic 6-0 in the state championship game at Johnson-O'Brien Stadium on Saturday.

Warriors coach Hunter Lee said the day belonged to DeSales and winning pitcher Sal Sisk.

"DeSales is just a really good team," Lee said. "Their pitcher threw really well — we only got one hit off of him and (he had) 15 strikeouts. I'd say he was probably the difference, but they were pretty solid all the way around. They didn't make any errors and they hit the ball really well. It was just, hats off to them. They were just the better team."

Junior Carter Pitts collected the lone hit for ACH in the championship game. The Warriors reached the state final on the strength of a dominating performance by sophomore Caden Correia in the semifinal, but there are restrictions on the number of pitches allowed, and Corriea reached the limit in the first game, Lee said. Junior Jameson Conley took the loss for the Warriors.

Almira Coulee Hartline reached the final with an 11-1 win over Naselle on Friday night. Naselle was the two-time defending state champion; Lee told his players after the game that Naselle felt the pressure.

"We took advantage of their errors," Lee told his team. "That was our baseball for that game."

Correia pitched a shutout until the fifth inning. Naselle scored its lone run in the bottom of the fifth on a long fly to center field. Correia loaded the bases on a walk, but a fly ball to shallow right field ended the game.

Even with the state final loss, Lee said it was a great season.

"When you get that second-place trophy, it's not the trophy you want on championship night. But when you take a step back and put it in perspective, second place is pretty good," Lee said. "And we have a lot of young guys on our team that are going to be coming back next year. So we feel pretty excited about our chances next year and the next couple of years."

Warrior coaches expected freshman Max Grindy to be the top pitcher in 2024, Lee said; Grindy was the team's leading pitcher in 2023 as an eighth grader. But he sustained an injury prior to basketball season and didn't play at all. He's expected back for 2025.

The Warriors will lose two players, Jaxson Baergen and John Pierce, to graduation.

"(The) seniors on our team started, I think, every game this year. They've been a part of our team for a while now," Lee said.

With a strong core returning, Lee said 2025 looks bright.

"We'll be very competitive again next year. So to get that experience in a state championship game, for all those kids, we'll be able to say we've been in big games before and kind of use that to our advantage."

Cheryl Schweizer can be reached via email at cschweizer@columbiabasinherald.com.