The Bowmen beat Lake Oswego to claim the OIBA championship

Photo Credit: DAN BROOD - WE DID IT -- Members of the Sherwood OIBA baseball team start celebrating following their 5-4 win over Lake Oswego in Saturday's OIBA tournament title game at Oregon City.OREGON CITY — Sherwood didn’t exactly have momentum on its side.

In fact, its safe to say that the Bowmen stumbled their way into the Oregon Independent Baseball Association season-ending tournament.

Sherwood ended its regular-season schedule on a losing skid and then was swept, by scores of 6-0 and 6-1, by Tualatin in the tourney best-of-three seeding series.

So, it would hard to blame anyone for not looking at the Bowmen as a tourney title contender.


Sherwood, peaking at the absolute right time, stormed its way to the OIBA tournament championship, battling its way past Lake Oswego for a dramatic 5-4 victory in the tourney title contest played Saturday at Oregon City High School.

“We were struggling,” said Adley Rutschman, a Sherwood High School junior-to-be, who closed out the title game on the mound to get the save. “I don’t know what turned it around. We all just did what we needed to do.”

“This means a lot to us,” Sherwood outfielder Rich Hekker said. “It’s really cool. After our losing streak we battled back. We’re the team with a lot of heart.”

“This means a whole bunch,” Bowmen outfielder Brendon Wexted said. “Moving up to (Class) 6A, this shows that we have what it takes to compete with anyone.”

Photo Credit: DAN BROOD - WINNING PITCHER -- Sherwood's Sam Fulwiler gets ready to fire in a pitch during Saturday's OIBA tournament championship game.Sherwood went 5-1 in the 16-team, double-elimination OIBA tourney to finish the summer season with a final overall record of 22-11.

“Who’d have thought we’d be here after the Tualatin series?” Sherwood coach Jon Strohmaier said. “It was a very productive summer, and there was no better way to end the summer.”

That’s for sure.

But, to cap off the summer season, the Bowmen had to come from behind to get the win over Lake Oswego.

The Lakers, who bested Sherwood 3-2 on Friday in the tourney winners’ bracket final, got a run in the bottom of the first inning, coming on an RBI groundout by Max Anderson, and another in the second, coming when Jake Mercep scored on a sacrifice bunt by Will Burton, to jump out to a 2-0 lead.

But Sherwood starting pitcher Sam Fulwiler settled down from there, shutting out Lake Oswego over the next three innings.

Meanwhile, the Bowmen battled their way back into the contest.

Rutschman ignited the Sherwood rally with a leadoff single to left field to open the top of the third inning. Rutschman moved to second base on a wild pitch, advanced to third on a passed ball and then scored on another passed ball to trim the LO lead to 2-1.

Hekker, who walked following Rutschman’s hit, score from third on Wexted’s two-out single to center field later in the inning to tie the game at 2-2.

Photo Credit: DAN BROOD - ON THE RUN -- Sherwood's Adley Rutschman (left) breaks to home plate, scoring on a wild pitch in Saturday's OIBA championship agme. The Bowmen beat Lake Oswego 5-4.The Bowmen then took charge in the fifth inning, scoring three times in the top of the frame.

Hekker drew a walk to ignite the big inning. Zak Taylor followed with a double to left field, with Hekker moving up to third base on the hit.

One out later, and after Wexted was hit by a pitch to load the bases, Hekker scored from third base on a passed ball to give Sherwood its first lead of the game, at 3-2.

But the Bowmen weren’t down there. One out later, Jacob Church singled in both Wexted and Cameron Clem, who reached base on a fielder’s choice grounder, to up the Sherwood lead to 5-2.

Fulwiler put Lake Oswego down in order in the bottom of the fifth inning to keep the three-run lead intact. But the Lakers tried to battle back in the sixth.

Anderson doubled down the left-field line to lead off the frame and Oscar Stout followed with a single to left field.

Rutschman took over the pitching duties in relief for the Bowmen at that point, but he was greeted by a two-run double by Mitchell Verburg, which cut the Sherwood lead to 5-4.

But Rutschman took over from there. He struck out the next to batters and then got a pop out to end the inning, keeping the one-run Bowmen lead intact.

Sherwood had a chance to add onto its lead in the top of the seventh. Tommy Paul, Wexted and Clem had consecutive singles to load the bases with one out in the frame. But a 1-2-3 double play got Lake Oswego out of the inning unscathed, setting up a dramatic bottom of the seventh.

Photo Credit: DAN BROOD - GOOD JOB -- Sherwood head coach Jon Strohmaier congratulates the Bowmen players following their 5-4 win over Lake Oswego in the OIBA tournament championship game played Saturday at Oregon City High School.Matt Voelzke had a bloop single to right field to lead off the frame. Burton then put down a bunt, but Rutschman, quickly getting to the ball, threw out Voelzke at second base on the play. Rutschman then struck out Martin for the second out of the inning. He then got Anderson to fly out to Wexted in center field, with Rutschman raising his arms in the air as the ball was caught.

“I was so happy,” Rutschman said. “I was just really happy that we won.”

“I just yelled out, ‘yes, Wexted,’” said Hekker, who was playing in right field. “I was just excited. We showed that we belong in the Three Rivers League.”

“I think the biggest thing is that we played a team that we’ll see next year,” Rutschman said. “It’s going to be a tough league, but we’ll be ready.”

Rutschman’s title-game save was his fourth save for the Bowmen in the OIBA tourney.

“That was my role this summer,” he said.

Fulwiler, in his five-plus innings of work, gave up four runs on five hits while striking out three and walking three on his way to recording the win.

Meanwhile, Sherwood, as a team, had eight hits in the victory. Wexted went 2 for 3 at the plate with a run scored and an RBI. Hekker, Rutschman, Taylor, Church, Paul and Clem added one hit apiece for the Bowmen.

Photo Credit: DAN BROOD - THE CHAMPS -- Sherwood claimed the Oregon Independent Baseball Association championship by scoring a 5-4 win over Lake Oswego in Saturday's OIBA tournament championship game played at Oregon City High School. “It was a close game, but we got key hits and made the plays at the right time,” Wexted said. “We’ve been behind before, but we learned that it’s never over.”

“It was quite a game,” Strohmaier said. “It was the same thing for us, pitching and defense. We made the plays and got some timely hits.”

But, Sherwood says, it was more than the strong pitching, defense and timely hitting that got the team the OIBA tourney title.

“Coach says that the best team doesn’t always win,” Hekker said. “It’s the team that executes and shows up, and that was us.”

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