The young Tonkin Nissan squad battles hard at the OIBA event
by: Dan Brood CLOSE CALL — Tigard catcher Brody Parsons (left) holds up the ball after tagging Tonkin Nissan’s Taylor Bonawitz in the third inning of last Thursday’s OIBA tourney game. Bonawitz was safe on the play.

CEDAR MILL - The Tonkin Nissan OIBA baseball team saw its season come to an end in heartbreaking fashion.

But it was a season that saw the Sherwood-based squad reach the season-ending OIBA tournament.

It also was a season that saw a young group of players gain some valuable experience while also finding out what it needs to do to be ready for next spring's high school campaign.

Tonkin Nissan's season concluded last Thursday at Sunset High School when it fell 6-5 to Tigard, which scored three runs in the bottom of the seventh inning in a first-round losers' bracket contest of the double-elimination tourney.

'It was a good summer,' said Connor Munro, a Sherwood High School senior-to-be. 'We had a lot of new faces and I thought we did well. We've got good pitching and defense. We need to keep working on our hitting.'

'It was good that we got better as a team,' Tonkin Nissan outfielder Taylor Bonawitz added. 'We had good team chemistry and got some experience.'

Tonkin Nissan, which fell 5-2 to Jesuit in a first-round game of the double-elimination tournament on July 27, finished the summer season with an overall record of 16-12.

'We were very young from an experience standpoint,' Tonkin Nissan coach Jon Strohmaier said. 'Hopefully, the guys learned what it takes to win at the varsity level. Everyone got a chance to show what they can and can't do.'

Tonkin Nissan, in last Thursday's game against neighboring Tigard, took a 1-0 lead with a run in the top of the third inning.

Bonawitz got things started with a one-out single to left field. Bonawitz moved to second when Travis Dyer drew a walk with two outs in the frame. He then scored on a single to right field by John Dailey, giving the Sherwood squad its early advantage.

But Tigard rallied in the bottom of the fourth inning, scoring three times in the frame to take a 3-1 advantage.

Jake Biglow got things going for the Longhorns in the inning with a one-out ground-rule double to left field. Jesse Wantland was then hit by a pitch. Brody Parsons followed with a double to the gap in right-center field. Biglow and Wantland both scored on the hit to give Tigard a 2-1 lead.

Parsons moved to third base on a fielder's choice grounder hit by Kyler Heaston. Parsons then scored on a bunt single by Tucker Campbell to give the Longhorns their 3-1 margin.

But the Sherwood squad came up with a rally of its own in the top of the fifth inning.

Munro started the big frame with a one-out single to center field. One out later, Dailey singled to center and Logan Ballarche had an infield single to load the bases with two outs.

Tyler Ratcliffe then singled to left field, driving in both Munro and Dailey to tie the game at 3-3. After Nate Montgomery walked to load the bases again, Alex Barzee singled to right field, plating both Ballarche and Ratcliffe to give Tonkin Nissan a 5-3 lead.

The Sherwood team was in position to win the game, as it took the 5-3 advantage to the bottom of the seventh inning. Tigard, in its last chance, loaded the bases with two outs in the frame. Then, on a 2-2 pitch, Wantland tripled to right-center field, driving in Parker Garland, Erik Lien and Biglow to give the Longhorns a dramatic 6-5 victory.

'We need to learn to close out games,' Strohmaier said. 'But it was a good game.'

'It would have been nice to beat them,' Bonawitz said. 'We grew up with those guys.'

'We put the ball in play and outhit them,' Munro said. 'But we didn't put our hits together.'

Tonkin Nissan, in fact, had 12 hits in the game, compared with six for Tigard.

Bonawitz, Bellarche, Dailey and Ratcliffe each had a pair of hits in the contest. Dyer, Munro, Barzee and Chase Krieger all had one hit apiece.

Ratcliffe started the game on the mound for Sherwood and struck out five and walked three in six and two-thirds innings of work.

'Tyler threw a heck of a game,' Strohmaier said. 'And Nate (Montgomery) threw great yesterday.'

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