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Timberwolves come up just short


Tualatin tipped in the semifinals by North Medford

by: DAN BROOD - TEAMWORK -- The Tualatin High School baseball team gathers following the squad's 9-2 win over McMinnville in Friday's quarterfinal round of the Class 6A state playoffs. MEDFORD — No Tualatin High School baseball team has ever advanced farther.

And the Timberwolves came close to taking it one step more.

The Tualatin team saw its season come to a close with a 4-0 loss to North Medford in a Class 6A state playoff semifinal game played Tuesday at North Medford High School.

“They were very good,” Tualatin coach Adam Strachan said of North Medford. “But I thought the teams were very evenly matched. I thought we were very equal in every aspect. It just came down to one or two plays here and there. That’s how baseball is.”

With the win, North Medford improved to 26-4 on the season. The Black Tornado also advances to play in the Class 6A state championship game. North Medford will meet Sheldon Saturday in the title game, set to start at 10 a.m. at Volcanoes Stadium in Keizer.

Tualatin, the Pacific Conference champion, finished its season with a final overall record of 24-6. The team’s semifinal appearance marked the farthest a Timberwolf team has advanced in the state playoffs.

“I thought we had a great season,” Strachan said. “I thought our team chemistry led to winning. I’m really proud of the team.”

The Timberwolves got off to a promising start in Tuesday’s semifinal game, as senior leadoff hitter Joey Fishback opened the game with a double to the fence in left field. But North Medford, after intentionally walking Tualatin’s No. 3 batter, Cooper Brunner, was able to turn an inning-ending double play.

The only other hit Tualatin was able to get into the paper was a fifth-inning single by sophomore Chase Anderson.

“The bottom line was that we couldn’t get the bats going,” Strachan said. “You have those days. We had some opportunities, but it is what it is.”

North Medford scored its first two runs in the bottom of the third inning. One of those runs came on a hit-and-run double by Tornado senior Austin Zavala — and that was almost thwarted by the efforts of Anderson in left field.

“He must have run 40 yards on a hard-hit ball,” Strachan said of the speedy Anderson. “It was an incredible effort. He dove out parallel, and had the ball in the pocket of his glove, but when he hit the ground, it popped out.”

North Medford, taking advantage of three Tualatin errors, was able to score two more runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to up its lead to 4-0.

“Those were some close plays,” Strachan said.

Junior Karter Cook started on the mound for the Timberwolves, and pitched into the fifth inning. Junior Jacob Bennett took over and finished the game on the mound from there.

“Both of our pitchers did very well,” Strachan said.

Junior Colton Westfall pitched the distance for the Black Tornado.

Tuesday’s semifinal loss marked the final high school game for Tualatin seniors Brunner, Brandon Shroyer, Cody Davidson, Fishback, Taylor Boos and Jake Gellos.

“We had a great senior class that stepped up as leaders,” Strachan said. “They brought the team together and made everyone feel included.”

The Wolves should have a strong group back next year, led by Bennett and Carter.

“I think we’ll have the top two pitchers in the state,” Strachan said. “The goal for next year is high.”

In the 2015 season, Tualatin will be part of the Three Rivers League.