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Apollos win, get in

The Apollos knock off Centennial 8-1 to join the 6A playoff field
by: Miles Vance BRING IT — Sunset senior pitcher Jon Bjorklund shut down Centennial on two hits and four walks while striking out eight on Tuesday.

CEDAR MILL - The Sunset baseball team knows that it belongs in the Class 6A state playoff field.

And on Tuesday, the Apollos made it real, rolling past Centennial 8-1 in a Class 6A Play-In game at Sunset High School to earn a berth in the 32-team state bracket. Sunset will likely host a game in the first round of the playoffs on Monday afternoon, though the opponent and start time have yet to be determined.

The win lifted Sunset's record to 14-12 and helped the Apollos begin to distance themselves from a difficult Metro League season that saw the team finish fifth at 5-10.

'I'm just happy we're out here playing baseball today,' said senior pitcher Jon Bjorklund, who shut down the Eagles on two hits and four walks while striking out nine strikeouts. 'We just want to get hot and forget about Metro and worry about the playoffs.'

'We all just want to prove ourselves because we kind of had a rough Metro,' said senior Michael Silvey, who went 3-for-3 at the plate and knocked in four runs. 'We want to come out and prove what we can do.'

'We just wanted to get a little momentum,' added Sunset coach Brian Sullivan. 'Our league's so tough, but we think it will help prepare us for a playoff run.'

Centennial (7-19), the fifth-place finisher from the Mt. Hood Conference, actually led 1-0 on Tuesday after scratching across a run in the top of the first. Corey Messineo reached base with a single, took second on a fielder's choice, and raced home to score when Bjorklund picked Cody Rau off first.

Undeterred, the Apollos rallied with four runs in the bottom of the first to take control. Cam Russ reached base with a one-out single, Mike Umscheid was hit by a pitch, Zane Bambusch walked to load the bases, and Ben Burros was hit by a pitch to tie the score at 1-1. Next hitter Silvey did even more damage, rocking a long double over the Centennial center fielder's head to push home three more runs to make it 4-1.

'It was good to help the team get going,' Silvey said. 'I figured it was deep, but I didn't know it was that deep. I didn't think it was going to get to the fence, to be honest.'

'Early on, we had a couple key hits,' Sullivan said. 'We haven't had a lot of key hits in situations like that. so it was nice to give Jon a little breathing room.'

Sunset tacked on single runs in the second, third, fifth and sixth innings, getting a sacrifice fly from Bambusch in the second, an RBI double by Silvey in the third, a run-scoring single by Danny Yazzolino in the fifth, and bringing home its final run when Burros grounded into a double play in the sixth.

That was more than enough support for Bjorklund, who allowed just one baserunner in the second, third and fourth innings, and just one more in the sixth and seventh frames.

'My fastball today, I've never seen it move so much in my life,' Bjorklund said. 'My velocity was there, they couldn't keep up so I just pounded the zone.'

'Jon's been excellent all year and he finally got some run support so he could go out there and relax,' Sullivan added.

For the game, Bjorklund went 2-for-4 at the late and scored once, Russ was 3-for-4 and scored twice, and Austin Hempy scored twice in the win. Messineo and Wyatt Davies had Centennial's only two hits.