Sherwood opens postseason play with 4-0 win over Hermiston

by: DAN BROOD - CAUGHT STEALING -- Sherwood senior shortstop Spencer Clay (left) tags out Hermiston's Nychal Gritz on a stolen base attempt in Wednesday's state playoff game.SHERWOOD — Typical.

Typical Sherwood High School playoff baseball, that is.

That means, get solid pitching, play spectacular defense, score any way you can and then celebrate a victory.

The Bowmen did all of that on Wednesday, as they opened their postseason defense of their 2013 state championship by notching a 4-0 win over Hermiston in a Class 5A state playoff first-round game played at Sherwood High School.

“This is what it's all about,” Sherwood junior catcher Zak Taylor said. “We're really on our stride right now.”

“This was great,” said Sherwood senior shortstop Spencer Clay, who teamed with sophomore third baseman Adley Rutschman and junior second baseman Dayton Vaughn to play sparking infield defense for the Bowmen in the victory. “We're making plays and having fun.”

Hermiston, the No. 2 team from the Columbia River Conference, finished its season with a final overall record of 14-14. Sherwood, the Northwest Oregon Conference champion, improved to 22-6 on the season with its 18th-straight win.

The Bowmen also advance to the quarterfinal round of the Class 5A state playoffs. They'll travel to face Ashland (20-8) Friday in a quarterfinal game set to start at 2 p.m. at North Mountain Park.

“We've hit our peak at a good time,” said Sherwood senior pitcher Riley Moore, who threw six shutout innings in Wednesday's playoff victory. “We're excited to see what happens.”

Moore, in Wednesday's game, walked the first batter he faced, Hermiston senior Sean Smith, on four pitches. But, after that, the right-hander settled down in a big way.

In his six shutout innings of work, Moore gave up four hits while striking out five and walking one.

by: DAN BROOD - NICE JOB -- Sherwood senior pitcher Riley Moore (right) is congratulated by senior Beau Curtiss in between innings during the Bowmen's 4-0 state playoff win over Hermiston on Wednesday.“He battled out there,” Sherwood coach Jon Strohmaier said of Moore.

Behind Moore, Sherwood played got a spectacular defensive effort from its infielders, as well as from Taylor, who threw out a Hermiston runner on a stolen-base attempt in addition to making a hustling play on a popped-up foul ball.

“We got good pitching, played good defense and ran the bases well,” Strohmaier said. “Our infield was spectacular. They've been that way all year.”

“That gives me confidence,” Moore said of the Bowmen defense. “I know they have my back.”

“We pride ourselves in making all of the routine plays,” Clay said. “And the spectacular plays will happen.”

In addition to the solid pitching and defense, the Bowmen were also ready for hard-throwing Hermiston pitcher Nychal Gritz.

“We had a good approach to getting ahead of his fastball,” Taylor said. “We hit the ball well.”

Sherwood struck quick in Wednesday's game, getting a run in the bottom of the first inning. Senior Keegan Lawrence got things going by getting to second base after Hermiston committed a throwing error on his one-out infield single.

by: DAN BROOD - SPEED KILLS -- Sherwood senior Keegan Lawrence (right) slides safely to third base and then pops up and scores the Bowmen's first run on a throwing error on the play.The speedy Lawrence then came all the way around to score on another Bulldog throwing error following a groundout by Taylor.

The Bowmen added another run in the second. Senior Nathan Christler drew a one-out walk and he moved to second base on Hermiston throwing error on a pickoff attempt. Junior Cameron DuFault then ripped an opposite-field double down the left-field line, plating Christler to up the lead to 2-0.

Sherwood struck for two more runs in the third inning. Taylor, who led off the frame with a single, scored on a sacrifice fly by Moore. Senior Beau Curtiss, pinch running for senior Travis Kotowski, scored from third base on a wild pitch later in the frame to push the margin to 4-0.

Sherwood, as a team, had four hits in the contest. DuFault went 2 for 3 at the plate with a double and an RBI. Lawrence and Taylor had Sherwood's other hits.

Senior Tyler Booth pitched a scoreless seventh inning to wrap up the win for Sherwood.

The Bowmen, if they win at Ashland on Friday, would host Marist, Sandy or Madison Tuesday in a Class 5A state playoff semifinal contest.

For more on this contest, and Sherwood's other state playoff games, see the June 5 issue of The Times.

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