Skyview Storm went with an unusual approach with their pitching strategy last week, but they remain undefeated
It was the final week of the regular season, and the Skyview Storm wanted to complete an undefeated campaign.
They also wanted to do it with a little magic from the mound.
Or a lot.
Three games. Three days. Three wins.
Zero earned runs.
This was not just a couple talented pitchers. The Storm used 10 guys in three days. Including seven in one game, with each pitcher getting an inning. There was a combined no-hitter, and a combined one-hitter.
By the end of the week, the Storm had moved to 14-0, and the coaching staff got the opportunity to evaluate a lot of talent.
This week, the Storm are the No. 1 seed going into the culminating event baseball tournament for the Class 4A and 3A Greater St. Helens Leagues. Skyview will play in the quarterfinals Wednesday, then, they plan to play in Saturday’s semifinals and finals.
They hope to win three more games, to claim this title for the abbreviated season, and to remain undefeated.
And they know they can trust anyone on the mound.
“I think it’s really great how versatile the staff that we have,” senior Mikey Miller said. “I’m just happy that everybody’s getting to throw. It shows our depth. We were able to run out 10 guys in three games. It’s a great representation of how this program is, and how it’s really a next-man-up mentality, and anybody can get the job done.”
Skyview coach Seth Johnson said that was a first for him as a coach, to use that many guys and for all to pitch so well.
It started on Monday when Brendan Bowyer threw six shutout innings against Battle Ground. Cade Reitzenstein finished the game in the seventh. The Tigers got two unearned runs, but Reitzenstein closed out the game.
On Tuesday, it was Arizona State-bound senior Caden Vire who threw five hitless innings, striking out seven. Parker Harris came in for the final two innings, completing the combined no-hitter in a 1-0 win over Union.
On Wednesday, it was pitching-by-committee rules. And this committee ruled.
Miller got the first inning. He was followed by Cody Blackhurst, Tyler Davis, Jake Kennedy, Brady Davis, Josh Kophs, and Seth Minor. The Storm finished with a one-hitter. Davis had three strikeouts in his inning. Kennedy whiffed two batters.
“It was definitely a shock. Not expecting it,” Johnson said. “Camas is a talented team. But it was our last high school (regular-season) game. We needed to get all these guys an inning, get them some varsity experience. They all just threw well. We’ve been scrimmaging every week. They’ve all been throwing. We knew the talent was there. But just to see it in a game, it was pretty exciting.”
Miller loved being part of that game, as the starter, then watching his teammates shine.
“That was really fun to see everyone get an opportunity,” he said. “It’s a great feeling that we can look at any name on the roster and say, ‘Go get the job done’ and they can.”
When Reitzenstein first heard of the strategy, to use seven pitchers in the game, he acknowledged that he thought it was going to have to be a high-scoring game in order for the Storm to remain undefeated.
“I just knew we had to bring our game to the plate,” Reitzenstein said. “We’ve got to score runs. I honestly thought they were going to score on us, and they didn’t. I was super surprised. But at the same time, dang, we have some pretty good pitchers on our team.”
He is not surprised at any success associated with Skyview baseball, though. He knows what he and his teammates bring to the diamond every day.
“When we come to practice, we come to get better. We’re practicing for our future. We want to be better in ourselves. We go hard. We’re focused,” Reitzenstein said. “We do what our coaches tell us to do to get better.”
While the 10 pitchers in three consecutive wins might be new at Skyview, talent from the mound is not. The Storm made the state’s final four three consecutive seasons from 2017 to 2019. There was no season a year ago, and this year, no state tournament.
Skyview winning at baseball, though, remains the norm. Miller, a senior, can see it continuing in the future, too. There were juniors, sophomores, and freshmen among the 10 who pitched last week.
“I think the future is really bright,” Miller said. “What they’re doing now, already shutting down good teams around the county, and just giving them a couple more years to progress … I think this program is set for many years.
“It’s always been like that. It’s never been getting off the gas with pitching. We’ve always had pitching.”
Vire is the big name on this squad. He’s earned that, as well. The tall left-handed pitcher is one of the top prospects in the Northwest.
“When he goes, it’s really electric,” Johnson said of Vire.
Another coach in the GSHL said that it is just about a lock for a Skyview win when Vire is on the mound.
While there have been many close games, so far this year, no one has been able to unlock the secret to beating the Storm.
“If you look at the staff as a whole, they have the same numbers across the board,” Johnson said of all of his pitchers.
Miller said Vire brings competition within the staff. Vire will throw a gem, then it’s Miller’s turn to try to match Vire.
“To see my friend do that, the way he has progressed from freshman year to senior year,” Miller said. “It’s just really cool to see our guy go out there and say, ‘Alright, we’re going to get the win today.’”
This week, the Storm are looking for three more wins to win this Southwest Washington tournament.
“This is my senior season,” Reitzenstein said. “I just want it to be the best it can be. I want to go undefeated.”
No point in worrying about no state tournament this year. For the Storm, for the rest of the GSHL teams, this is championship week.
“I’m just really appreciative of the opportunities that officials have been able to give us,” Miller said. “We’ll take what we can get, enjoy the memories, and just live in the moment and enjoy what we’ve got now and not worry about what we lost last year.
“Soak it up this year.”