It’s an irksome question Ryan Fowler often gets: What other positions do you play?
His answer is well rehearsed and not complicated.
“I don’t even own another mitt,” said the Eisenhower graduate. “I love being a catcher and I don’t want to play anywhere else.”
Patiently waiting his chance over a long, hot weekend in the All-State Baseball Series, Fowler got the call in the fifth inning and caught four scoreless frames to help guide Team St. Helens to a 6-1 victory over Adams on Sunday at Parker Faller Field.
Fowler threw out an attempted steal in the seventh and managed two pitchers who didn’t allow a base runner beyond second base to lock down the consolation game.
“You just have to be ready for your moment, and in something like this with so many talented guys you have to take it one pitch, one out, one inning at a time,” Fowler said. “It was a great opportunity and a lot of fun.”
After both of Saturday’s games were decided by one run, Sunday’s championship game was the same tense duel with Team Baker, which got stellar pitching from West Valley’s Connor Schlect and Blake Leaverton the day before, holding on to edge Rainier 4-3.
With Baker a little thin on pitching, Eastside Catholic’s Sheehan O’Connor outlasted Schlect’s remarkable five-inning performance on Saturday with a six-inning stretch in the title game. Not allowing an earned run and adding an RBI single at the plate, he was named the defensive MVP.
Arlington’s Cole Cramer, who was sharp at shortstop both days and clubbed a two-run homer for Rainier, received the offensive MVP award.
Fowler, Ike’s first player selected for the all-senior Series in 11 years, is a switch-hitter who won the home run derby at the All-State feeder game on his home field last month. He tripled in his first varsity at-bat as a freshman and was the Cadets’ catcher since his sophomore season when he earned all-league honors.
“We’ve all been through a lot not being able to play much last year, and it’s crazy how quick it all came back together,” said Fowler, who’s headed to Tacoma Community College. “With high school and summer I’m close to 250 innings already. This is special because some of my friends are on the field today and some of my future teammates are also here. A lot of us have played against and with each other, so in the middle of summer this has been an awesome weekend.”
East Valley’s Dillan Morrow, an outfielder for Adams headed to Yakima Valley College, turned in another standout effort in left, including a diving catch in the eighth inning that saved a run. A multi-sport talent who has earned CWAC all-league honors in football as a punter and kicker, Morrow pitched two innings and patrolled left in Saturday’s 6-5 loss to Baker.
In the title game, Baker was cruising along with a 4-0 lead as O’Connor kept the Rainier hitters off balance through five innings. In the sixth, with two outs and a runner on first due to an infield throwing error, Cramer got his team back in the game with a towering two-run blast over the leftfield wall.
Ferndale’s Aidan Roddel finally took over for O’Connor in the seventh and struck out the side. Things got a bit dicey in the eighth, however, when two walks and a double steal led to a run, slicing the margin to 4-3 with two outs. But with the tying run on third and Cramer at the plate, the 215-pound Roddel ended the game with his fourth strikeout.
“I didn’t want to give up the ball even after six,” O’Connor said. “But Aidan was great. What a way to finish the game.”
Baker 4, Rainier 3
Burkett. Brannan (4), Hoiland (7) and Bellefuil, Jones (5); O’Connor, Roddel (7) and Felton, Rhea (5).
Highlights — Rainier: Cole Cramer (Arlington) 2-4, HR, 2 RBI. Baker: Sheehan O’Connor (Eastside Catholic) 6 IP, 0 ER, 1-2, RBI, SB; Aidan Roddel (Ferndale) 2 IP, 0 hits, 4 K; Elijah Hainline (Mead) 1-1, 2b, run, SB, RBI; Connor White (Lynden) 2-3, 2 runs; Cooper Christensen (Royal) 1-3, run, SB, RBI.
St. Helens 6, Adams 1
Canfield, Dedonato (4), Meffert (4), Utzman (8) and Coulter, Fowler (5); Parkin, Grewe (2), Gores (4), Bayne (7) and Molenda, Hamry (5).
Highlights — St. Helens: AJ Guerrero (Fife) 2-4, 2 runs, HR, 2 RBI; Carson Coulter (Pullman) 1-2, run, RBI; Noah Meffert (Oak Harbor) 4 IP, 0 hits, 3 K, 5 BB, 1 ER. Adams: Riley McCarthy (Mountain View) 1-1, 2 SB, run; Garrett Gores (Gonzaga Prep) 3 IP, 0 hits, 3 K, 1 BB.