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Bowmen, 'Cats to vie in an all-NWOC final

Baseball: The Class 5A title tilt will be played Saturday at Volcanoes Stadium
by: JAIME VALDEZ GOOD TIMES — Sherwood senior Jordan Ramp (right) celebrates with senior Tanner Kichler following the Bowmen's 1-0 semifinal win over West Albany.

KEIZER - It just keeps getting better and better for the Sherwood baseball team.

First, Sherwood earned a spot in the Class 5A state championship game by scoring a thrilling 1-0 win over West Albany in a state semifinal contest played Tuesday at Sherwood High School.

And, when the Bowmen take the field Saturday in the title game, in the opposing dugout will be their rivals from Wilsonville.

It will be an all-Northwest Oregon Conference match-up with Sherwood taking on the Wildcats in the Class 5A state title game, set to start at 10 a.m. at Volcanoes Stadium.

'It will be amazing,' Sherwood senior shortstop Tyler Rome said. 'This is something I've dreamed about my whole life. I can't wait.'

'It's huge,' Sherwood senior Tanner Kichler said after pitching the Bowmen to the semifinal win. 'Throughout the season, we took it game-by-game. Now, we're where we wanted to be. This is definitely awesome. I'm not going to be able to sleep tonight - or tomorrow night.'

It will be Sherwood's first championship game appearance since 2006, when it fell 9-2 in nine innings to Astoria in the Class 3A state title contest.

'It took me 16 years to get here the first time, and only five to get back again,' Sherwood coach Jon Strohmaier said. 'I'm thankful we're getting another shot.'

Wilsonville, the Northwest Oregon Conference champion, brings an overall record of 23-6 into Saturday's title contest.

Sherwood, which also is 23-6 on the season, is all too familiar with Wilsonville, which scored a 6-4 home win over Pendleton in Tuesday's semifinal round.

The teams met twice in league play this year. The Wildcats scored a 2-0 win over the Bowmen in a game played April 8 at Wilsonville High School. Wilsonville then posted a 5-1 victory against the Bowmen in a game played April 29 at Sherwood High School.

'I told the team, after that second game, that they didn't show up,' Strohmaier said. 'And I told them that the only chance they'd have to face them again would be in the state championship game.'

And the Bowmen are more than happy that they get another shot at the Wildcats - with the state title on the line.

'We're so excited,' Sherwood senior first baseman Jake Lawrence said. 'We wanted to get them again.'

'This is almost like a storybook,' Rome said. 'We were hoping we'd get to play them again. We're a little more focused, and we're at our prime now.'

Wilsonville senior Spencer Cumiford pitched the Wildcats to the two league wins over Sherwood.

'We hope it's him again,' Lawrence said of Saturday's title match-up. 'We want another shot at him.'

As for Sherwood, Strohmaier wasn't sure if Kichler or senior Jordan Ramp would start on the mound.

'We'll have them both ready to go,' Strohmaier said. 'And if whoever starts gets tired, we'll get the other one in there and we'll be fine.'

'We just to play the way we have been playing,' Kichler said. 'We need to put the ball in play on offense and me and Jordan need to throw strikes.'

'We need to hit the ball,' Lawrence said. 'But, for us, the main thing is pitching and playing defense.'

Lawrence, and a good number of other Bowmen - such as Ramp, senior Geoff Walck, senior Justin Davis, senior Michael Balfour, junior Taylor Bonawitz, junior Travis Dyer, junior Connor Munro and junior Nate Montgomery - were on the Bowmen football team that won a state championship this past fall.

'That experience is going to help,' Lawrence said. 'We know what to expect and what it takes.'

Meanwhile, it seems like everyone on the Bowmen side is happy that it's Wilsonville that they'll play on Saturday.

'I respect (Wilsonville coach) Matt (Kosderka). He's done a good job and he's a friend,' Strohmaier said. 'Before the playoffs, when everyone was ripping on the NWOC I told him 'hey, dude, let's both get through these playoffs and play for the championship.'

'I expect it's going to be a good game. We'll show up, they'll show up, and we'll see who wins.'