Bowmen reach title game
Sherwood lost in an extra-innings thriller to Astoria.
KEIZER - That's what it's all about.
High school sports are special.
And the Class 3A state championship baseball game between Sherwood and Astoria showed just why that is.
A beautiful day, a wonderful stadium, a loud enthusiastic crowd and two teams that played their hearts out to the very end.
It's hard to ask for anything more.
For the Bowmen, their amazing season included most everything except one item - the championship. But that doesn't take away from the team's remarkable accomplishments.
This was a team, under the guidance of the 14th-year coach Jon Strohmaier, that showed tremendous chemistry. These guys all seemed to genuinely get along. The support they had for each other was definitely apparent.
'This was a great team to be on,' Sherwood junior Taylor Hill said after the June title contest. 'We all got along and we all supported each other.'
And it showed on the field.
It showed in Sherwood's rain-soaked 8-2 quarterfinal playoff win over Henley. It showed in the Bowmen's amazing come-from-behind 2-1 semifinal win over Marist.
And it showed.
Volcanoes Stadium was filled with vocal supporters for both teams. On one side, you had the purple and yellow clad, face-painting Astoria fans.
On the other side, as expected, there was the strong corps of Bowmen fans. The Sherwood baseball team, all Sherwood sports teams, for that matter, enjoyed strong support all year. Saturday was no exception.
In addition to the Sherwood students, family and friends, there were plenty of kids wearing their Sherwood youth baseball and football jerseys. Bowmen tradition is starting to run deep.
As game time got closer and closer, you could feel the excitement build. Sherwood High School senior Meghan Mulligan, with her beautiful rendition of the national anthem, brought even more cheers from the Bowmen faithful.
Then, there was the game itself, and it was a classic.
Both pitchers, Hill for Sherwood and junior Matt Brause for Astoria, quickly showed why they were starting on the mound in the state championship game.
They locked up in a consummate pitchers' duel in the early going. Hill, of course, was backed up by strong defensive play from his Bowmen teammates. Sophomore standout Johnny Wade made impressive play after impressive play while senior Ryan Codling, at third base, as usual, also shined on defense.
The Bowmen took the lead in the bottom of the third when senior Tyson Christy, shining in the clutch, doubled down the left field line to bring in junior Aaron Czyzewski.
Astoria, scoring twice in the top of the sixth, would rally to take a 2-1 lead.
But Christy, who also helped lead the Sherwood boys basketball team to the state tournament this past winter, seemed to take it upon himself not to let that lead stand. He led off the bottom of the sixth with a single to center and, on the very next pitch, he stole second base. He wasn't going to be denied.
And, he wasn't as he ended up scoring on a sacrifice fly by Wade to tie the game.
The game went to extra innings and, as you likely know by now, Astoria put seven runs on the scoreboard in the top of the ninth inning on its way to scoring a 9-2 victory.
After the game, there were some tears, some looks of disappointment on Sherwood's side of the field. But the Bowmen should have no regrets. They gave it their all, they had a remarkable season and they were part of a close-knit team. That's as good as it gets.
Here's one more thumbs up to Sherwood coach Jon Strohmaier and his staff. The Bowmen coaches got all 18 players on the team's championship-game roster into the Saturday's title contest. To play in a state championship game is special - and all of the Bowmen got to experience that.