The Bowmen come up one game shy of reaching the Class 5A state championship contest

by: DAN BROOD - PICKED OFF -- Sherwood senior shortstop Spencer Clay (right) puts a tag on Sandy senior Carson Dwyre in the second inning of Tuesday's Class 5A state playoff semifinal game.SHERWOOD — It’s said that all good things must come to an end.

That goes for winning streaks, as well.

Unfortunately for the Sherwood High School baseball team, the timing wasn’t great for their historic winning streak to conclusion.

The Bowmen saw their 19-game winning streak, one that some Sherwood players said may be the longest in school history, end with a 6-3 loss to Northwest Oregon Conference foe Sandy in a Class 5A state playoff semifinal game played in front of a large crowd Tuesday at Sherwood High School.

“It’s a tough way to end it,” Sherwood senior pitcher Riley Moore said after the game. “But it took a lot of work to win 19 in a row.”

“We came a long way,” Bowmen junior catcher Zak Taylor said. “This has to be one of the longest winning streaks in school history. We went after it and accomplished so much this season.”

by: DAN BROOD - SMALL BALL -- Bowmen senior Keegan Lawrence looks to put down a bunt in Tuesday's state playoff semifinal game.Sandy, which finished second to Sherwood in the final NWOC standings, improved to 21-9 on the season with the victory. The Pioneers also advance to play in the Class 5A state championship game for the first time. They’ll face Hood River Valley Saturday at 1:30 p.m. in the title tilt, which will be played at Volcanoes Stadium in Keizer.

“They played well,” Sherwood senior outfielder Keegan Lawrence said of Sandy. “On any given day, any team can beat any other team, and they did it today.”

Sherwood, the Northwest Oregon Conference champion and the defending Class 5A state champion, finished its season — the fourth straight season the Bowmen have reached the semifinal round of the state playoffs — with a final overall record of 23-7.

“This hurts, but I don’t want this game to diminish what we did this season,” Sherwood coach Jon Strohmaier said. “We went 23-7 and won 19 in a row. That’s pretty darn good. We have nothing to hang our heads about.”

by: DAN BROOD - PICKOFF ATTEMPT -- Sherwood senior first baseman Travis Kotowski looks to grab the ball while Sandy's Nick Martin dives back to the bag.“It was a great season,” said Lawrence, who scored a run and drove in a run in Tuesday’s game. “We had a 19-game winning streak. That’s historical. I’m proud of everyone on the team.”

Ironically, Sherwood’s 19-game winning streak began with a 9-2 victory at Sandy back on April 11. The Bowmen also posted a 6-0 win over the Pioneers in a game played April 15 at Sherwood. But the Bowmen knew that didn’t mean a thing going into Tuesday’s semifinal contest.

“They’re a whole different team now,” Moore said. “And so are we.”

Moore and Sandy senior Carson Dwyre locked up in a pitchers’ duel early in Tuesday’s game.

Moore struck out the side in the top of the first inning and had five strikeouts through the first two frames.

Meanwhile, Dwyre gave up a leadoff singles to Sherwood sophomore Adley Rutschman in the bottom of the first inning and to Moore in the second. But, both times, he retired the next three Bowmen batters in DAN BROOD - AT THE PLATE -- Sherwood junior designated hitter Cameron DuFault puts the ball in play during Tuesday's state semifinal contest.

Both teams’ defenses were also shining bright early in the game. For Sherwood, Taylor picked a runner off at second base in the second inning, and he threw out Sandy senior Mitch Lovely on a stolen-base attempt in the third. On the other side, the Pioneers turned a key double play in the first inning.

Behind the strong pitching and defense, the NWOC rivals found themselves still locked in a scoreless tie going into the fifth inning, but that’s when the Pioneers were able to break through.

Sandy senior Rhett Schilperoort singled to right field to lead off the frame. Then, following a strikeout, Lovely looped a hit-and-run double down the right-field line, with the ball bouncing a foot inside the foul line, driving in Schilperoort to give the Pioneers a 1-0 lead.

“It was one of those things,” Taylor said. “When a ball falls in like that, there’s nothing you can do.”

Junior Kyle Stipe led off the top of the sixth for Sandy with a single to center.

The Bowmen went to the bullpen at that point, but the Pioneers were able to keep rolling. Sandy, taking advantage of a Sherwood error and getting an RBI bunt single by Dwyre, upped its lead to 2-0.

The Pioneers then got a run-scoring single by Schilperoort and a two-out, two-run double from Lovely to push the margin to 5-0.

by: DAN BROOD - MAKING THE PLAY -- Sherwood sophomore third baseman Adley Rutschman sprints in to field a bunted ball in Tuesday's state semifinal game. Sherwood got one of those runs back in the bottom of the inning. Lawrence walked to lead off the frame. He moved to second on a groundout by Taylor and then scored on senior Travis Kotowski’s single to right field, making the score 5-1.

Sandy got the margin back to five, at 6-1, in the top of the seventh inning, when senior pinch-runner Dalton Hamburg scored from third base on a wild pitch.

That left the Bowmen with just one more chance. But, thinking back to 2013 Sherwood grad Jake Urbach’s mantra from last year’s state title run, “We’re Sherwood, we don’t die,” the Bowmen were ready to battle until the final out.

“We weren’t going to give up,” Taylor said.

“We never die,” Moore said. “We’re not going to roll over and quit. We felt like we had a chance.”

They did.

Bowmen junior Cameron DuFault reached second base on a Sandy throwing error to lead off the bottom of the seventh inning. One out later, and after senior Scott Skurdahl drew a walk, Rutschman laced an opposite-field single to left field to load the bases. Lawrence then drove in senior pinch runner Tanner Shadbolt with a sacrifice fly to right field, making the score 6-2.

Things got very interesting after that.

by: DAN BROOD - TOUGH LOSS -- The Bowmen walk off the field following their state playoff semifinal setback to Sandy.Taylor singled to center field, plating Skurdahl to cut the lead to 6-3, bringing the potential tying run to the plate with two outs. But Dwyre ended the drama with a strikeout, capping the Pioneers’ 6-3 win.

“He pitched amazing,” Moore said of Dwyre, who gave up five hits while striking out eight and walking four in a complete-game performance.

Moore, in his five-plus innings of work, gave up two runs on five hits while striking out nine and walking two.

For the Bowmen at the plate, Rutschman went 2 for 4. Moore, Kotowski and Taylor added one hit apiece.

“I’m really proud of the effort,” Strohmaier said. “And how the kids battled to the end. We’ve got nothing to be ashamed about.”

“We did our best,” Lawrence said.

For Sandy, Lovely went 3 for 3 with two doubles and three RBIs.

The semifinal loss marked the final high school game for Sherwood seniors Beau Curtiss, Spencer Clay, Andrew Kringlen, Ryan Pino, Moore, Shadbolt, Nathan Christler, Skurdahl, Tyler Booth, Kenneth Ballard, Lawrence, Brandon Geiger, Lucas Johnson and Kotowski.

“We’ve had a good program,” Moore said. “And we’re proud to be part of it. It’s sad to see it end.”

The game also marked Sherwood’s final contest at the Class 5A level. In the 2014-2015 school year, the Bowmen will move up a classification to play in the Class 6A Three Rivers League.

“That’s going to be really fun,” Taylor said. “We’re going to have to play some great ball.”

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