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Sherwood strikes quick and holds on


The OIBA baseball squad scores a 9-7 victory over Jesuit

by: MATTHEW SINGLEDECKER - MAKE THE PLAY -- Sherwood's Dayton Vaughn makes a throw to first in last week's victory at Jesuit. BEAVERTON — Pitching and defense win championships.

The Sherwood baseball team has the state title banners hanging in the rafters of the SHS gym to prove it. Two crimson and black pennants to be exact.

Even so, as Keegan Lawrence, a Sherwood senior-to-be, astutely pointed out, the Bowmen can never put enough runs on the scoreboard. No lead is completely safe regardless of how substantial the cushion is.

The defending state champs are carrying this mentality as they traverse the Oregon Independent Baseball Association summer schedule and try to stay atop the 5A pinnacle: bring the bats early, get runs on the board, let their stifling defense and pitching reign and hold on if need be.

Against Jesuit last Thursday, Sherwood jumped out to a 9-1 lead thanks to bases-clearing triple by Lawrence in the second inning. The Bowmen ended up needing each of the scores to fend off a furious seventh-inning Crusader rally for a 9-7 win in a game played at Jesuit High School.

“You saw how they made a comeback... you can never have enough runs,” said Lawrence. “It was good to get on top of a good team like that, just in case something like that happens we have enough insurance to keep a win.”

Lawrence — a physical specimen who benches 285 pounds and squats 490 and saw spot duty as a pinch runner as a junior —made his case to head coach Jon Strohmaier as to why he should be a regular in the lineup come next season.

Known more for his defensive prowess in the outfield, the rising senior went 3 for-3 at the plate with two doubles and five RBIs, including the backbreaking two-out, bases-loaded opposite-field shot in the second. Facing Ken Carlson — a second team All-Metro pitcher last season — Lawrence laced a fastball on the outside corner to right that brought three runs home and gave Sherwood a 4-0 lead.

“I felt good, saw the ball coming in, made a good read on it and did what I had to do to get the runs in,” said Lawrence. “We have good, solid defense so if we can have the hitting come around we’re going to be a good team. Anything we can do to help our pitcher out, that’s what we’re going to do.”

“That was huge for our momentum,” said Sherwood first baseman Travis Kotowski. “It was a 0-0 ballgame at that point, Keegan knocks in a few runs and end up scoring so those were some big runs.”

Starting pitcher Riley Moore looked right at home squaring off against Jesuit’s loaded lineup of future collegiate players. The right-hander, who’s used to hurling in pressure situations having pitched in the Class 5A state title game, threw 6 and 2/3 innings of high-quality baseball before getting pulled because of a predetermined pitch count. In all, Moore struck out three and only allowed five hits. Jesuit scored on a fielder’s choice in the bottom of the second.

Additionally, Sherwood’s always devoted defense was uncompromising and clean behind Moore. Newcomers such as Kotowski, Adley Rutschman, Dayton Vaughn, and Scott Murdoll made stellar snags around the diamond while Lawrence and Jake Reimer each got on their horses and ran down deep fly balls in the outfield.

“We did a great job on defense,” said Moore. “I didn’t strike a lot of guys out but I had good stuff today so I was pretty successful out there.”

Moore danced out of a bases-loaded jam in the third and proceeded to retire the next 10 Crusaders in succession. The senior got ahead in the count against Jesuit’s accredited power hitters like Brent Haberle and Trent Werner and then made his hay mixing fastballs and off-speed stuff that was difficult to get a good swing on.

Sherwood kept the runs coming in the fourth when Reimer drove in Lawrence with a double to the gap in left-center to extend the lead to 5-1. Zak Taylor’s bloop single in the sixth plated Rutschman.

Rutschman’s RBI single in the seventh with the bases full of Bowmen scored another run and Lawrence’s speed down the first base line forced a Jesuit overthrow that scored two more runs for Moore.

“Getting that extra boost of confidence, it was good knowing your teammates have your back,” said Moore. “Keegan can be a good contributor to this team next year, especially in the outfield. He has great speed and, as of summer ball, he’s been hitting the ball awesome.”

The Bowmen nearly gave the game away in the seventh as Jesuit erupted for six runs all with two outs after Moore gave way to the bullpen. Yet, with the bases chalked and the bottom of the Crusader lineup coming up, Strohmaier handed the ball to Reimer who got Jesuit’s Paul Wyatt to ground out to Kotowski at first for the final out.

“We let a couple of missed calls get to us but we came back strong and got the outs when we needed to,” said Kotowski. “Every game we’re trying to get better. We treat every game like a league game. We came out and played good.”

The Sherwood team will be back in action Friday when it plays Century in a game starting at 6 p.m. at Century High School.