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Bowmen claim their state playoff bid

Baseball: Focused Sherwood scores a 6-1 win over Franklin in the play-in tilt
by: DAN BROOD SAFE STEAL — Sherwood High School senior Tyler Rome (right) steals second base before Franklin junior Tanner Bragg can make the tag during last Thursday’s state play-in game. The Bowmen won 6-1.

SHERWOOD - Focused.

There might not be a better word to describe the Sherwood High School baseball team as it jumped into postseason play.

Not an unexpected balk call, not a wicked bad-hop grounder, not a boisterous disturbance in the grandstands and not even a scrappy Franklin squad would sway the focused Bowmen as they set their sights on a Class 5A state playoff bid.

And Sherwood grabbed its desired playoff berth by scoring a 6-1 win over the Quakers in a Class 5A state play-in game played last Thursday at Sherwood High School.

'We got the first one out of the way,' said Sherwood senior Tanner Kichler, who picked up the pitching victory in last Thursday's play-in game. 'We stayed focused the whole time.'

'The kids did a great job of staying focused today,' Sherwood coach Jon Strohmaier said. 'I'm really proud of them for that.'

Franklin, the No. 4 team out of the Portland Interscholastic League, finished its season with a final overall record of 9-14. Sherwood, the No. 2 team from the Northwest Oregon Conference, improved to 20-5 of the season.

The Bowmen also advanced to the Class 5A state playoffs. They were scheduled to host Corvallis in a Class 5A state playoff first-round game on Wednesday. Results of that game weren't available when the Times went to press.

'We've been practicing for this for so long,' Sherwood senior second baseman Brandon Scott said. 'This was a big win for us. It's going to get us going and give us confidence.'

Scott, following last Thursday's game, still had the imprint of baseball stitches on his right cheek - the result of a bad-hop grounder that struck him hard in the face during the fourth inning of the contest. Scott stayed in the game, even coming up with a key RBI single in the bottom half of the frame.

'He did a heck of a job,' Strohmaier said.

Sherwood's other middle infielder, senior shortstop Tyler Rome, was struck in the mouth by a bad-hop grounder in practice the day before. Like Scott, the mishap didn't seem to slow them down.

'They're just tough,' Strohmaier said. 'They made every play.'

'They still kept making plays,' Kichler said. 'We always play good defense.'

Sherwood took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second inning of last Thursday's game. Senior Jake Lawrence got things started with a leadoff single to right field. He moved to second base on a sacrifice bunt by senior Jordan Ramp and then advanced to third when Franklin committed an error on a grounder by Scott.

Bowmen senior Geoff Walck was then hit by a pitch to load the bases. Junior Connor Munro was also then struck by a pitch, forcing home Lawrence with the game's first run.

Franklin came back to tie the game with a run in the fourth inning. Junior Josh Nine drew a one-out walk for the Quakers and then he moved to second on a groundout by sophomore Daniel Bowers.

The next Franklin batter, senior Colby Drenner hit a screaming grounder toward Scott at second. But, right before Scott was to field the ball, it took an unexpected hop, striking Scott in the face. Nine came around to score on the play, tying the game at 1-1, as Scott was still down on the infield.

Before play resumed, there was a disturbance in the crowd, resulting in a Franklin fan being ejected from the field.

But none of that seemed to rattle the Bowmen, who came back to reclaim the lead in the bottom of the fourth.

Lawrence doubled to right-center field to lead off the inning. He then moved to third on a groundout by Ramp. Scott then came up and laced a ground single to left field, driving in Lawrence to give the Bowmen a 2-1 lead.

'I just wanted to hit the ball hard,' Scott said. 'And I was a little angry.'

Sherwood added on four more runs, on only one hit, in the bottom of the sixth inning to open up some breathing room.

Ramp singled to lead off the frame and he advanced all the way to third base on a Franklin fielding error on the play. After a groundout and after Walck was again hit by a pitch, Ramp was thrown out at home trying to score on a squeeze bunt by Munro. But the Bowmen kept battling.

Senior Justin Davis was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Sophomore Joseph Balfour was then hit by a pitch, bringing in Walck to give the Bowmen a 3-1 lead. Rome and junior Travis Dyer then drew back-to-back walks, bringing home two more runs. Lawrence was then hit by a pitch, plating Balfour to give Sherwood a 6-1 lead.

Franklin, taking advantage of two walks and a hit batter, loaded the bases with two outs in the seventh. But Ramp, pitching in relief, got a fly out to Balfour in right field to end the game and send the Bowmen to the state playoffs.

'This was really big for us,' Kichler said. 'Now we have to keep practicing hard and get better. We're going to take it one game at a time.'

In the win over Franklin, Kichler, in six and two-thirds innings of work, gave up one run on three hits while striking out six and walking five.

Sherwood had six hits in the contest. Lawrence had two of those hits while Rome, Scott, Davis and Ramp had one hit apiece.

The Bowmen, if they won at home against Corvallis on Wednesday, will play either Dallas or Mountain View in Friday's quarterfinal round. Sherwood would host a quarterfinal game against Dallas. The Bowmen would have to travel to Bend for a quarterfinal match-up with Mountain View.

The winner of Friday's quarterfinal games advance to the state semifinals, which will be played on Tuesday.