Sherwood claims the Class 5A state championship with an 11-4 win over Bend

by: DAN BROOD - THE CHAMPS ARE HERE -- The Sherwood High School baseball players and coaches gather with the state championship trophy following their 11-4 win over Bend in Saturday's title contest.KEIZER — You can call them “The Comeback Kids.”

After all, with their penchant for rallying for victory in postseason play, that name would be very fitting.

You can also call them “The Never-Say-Die Bowmen”.

Once again, very fitting.

But, now, there’s something else you can call them — state champions.

The Sherwood High School baseball team capped off its wild postseason run by rallying for an 11-4 win over Bend in the OSAA Class 5A state championship game played Saturday at Volcanoes Stadium.

“Honestly, this means the world to us,” said Sherwood junior Riley Moore, who was the winning pitcher in the championship game. “We dreamed of this. To make it here is a huge accomplishment.”

“We wanted to win state, and we did it,” Sherwood senior catcher Jacob Urbach said with a smile. “We don’t die. This was a total team effort.”by: DAN BROOD - WINNING PITCHER -- Sherwood High School junior Riley Moore fires a pitch to the plate during Saturday's Class 5A state championship game. Moore picked up his second win in postseason play.

“This means a lot to us,” said Sherwood senior third baseman Alex Barzee, who drove in four runs in the championship game. “After we won in football, we wanted to get one in baseball, too. After those first three games in the playoffs, we knew we could do it.”

“This is incredible,” Sherwood senior second baseman Colton Waker said. “To win in my last game, and to win the championship, it’s just unreal.”

Bend, the No. 2 team out of the Intermountain Conference, finished its season with a final overall record of 20-9.

With the victory, Sherwood, the Northwest Oregon Conference champion, ended its season with a final mark of 25-6, while also winning its second Class 5A state title in the past three seasons. The title game win also capped off a remarkable postseason trek for the Bowmen, which saw them have to come from behind to win all four of their state playoff games.

“These playoffs were magical,” Sherwood coach Jon Strohmaier said. “This was a completely different team from 2011. In 2011, we had a group that was all together for three years. This year, we kind of just rode it out. With about a month left in the season, we figured we had a shot. Why not us?”

“This season made me realize why I love baseball so much,” Urbach said. “I enjoyed every single day.”

The Bowmen, who had to come from behind to get one-run playoff wins over Crescent Valley, Hermiston and Redmond just to make it to Saturday’s game, found themselves in a familiar position early on in the title tilt, as Bend struck quickly.

by: DAN BROOD - YEAH -- Sherwood senior Logan Dix (left) and Zak Taylor celebrate after they both scored on a two-run single by Alex Barzee in Saturday's state championship game.Lava Bear senior Justin Erlandson hit the first pitch of the bottom of the first inning to right field for a double. He ended up scoring on a single by senior Jonah Koski to give Bend an early 1-0 lead. Junior Sami Godlove, who walked earlier in the frame, scored on a sacrifice fly by senior Lucas DeGaetano to up the Lava Bear’s lead to 2-0 at the end of the first inning.

That didn’t seem to bother the Bowmen.

“We’re used to having to fight our way back,” Sherwood senior Joseph Balfour said.

Still, the Bowmen looked to be struggling on offense as they tried to battle their way back. Sherwood went down in order in both the second and third innings. In the top of the fourth, the Bowmen got a leadoff infield single by Balfour. Urbach followed with a sacrifice bunt, with Balfour moving up to second base on the play. Balfour then advanced to third base when Bend committed an error on a ball hit by sophomore Zak Taylor.

But Lava Bear starting pitcher Caleb Gardner recorded back-to-back strikeouts to get out of the jam unscathed.

However, Moore, and the Sherwood defense, kept Bend from adding onto its lead, keeping the score at 2-0 going into the bottom of the fifth inning.

by: DAN BROOD - HUSTLING -- Sherwood senior second baseman Colton Waker (left) and senior right fielder Anthony Sherwood converge on the ball during the Class 5A state championship contest. But that’s when the Lava Bears were able to strike again. Koski led off the frame with a single to center. He stole second base and then scored on junior Nathan Miller’s two-out single to up the Bend lead to 3-0.

That left the Bowmen to face a three-run deficit with only two innings remaining.

“I thought we were dead in the water a couple of times,” Strohmaier said. “But we preached to the kids not to panic. We’ve been there before.”

And, then, there’s also Sherwood’s unyielding attitude.

“We don’t die,” Barzee said, repeating what turned out to be the Bowmen’s motto during the latter part of the postseason.

No, they don’t. In fact, the Bowmen came out screaming and kicking in the sixth inning.

Balfour led off the frame with a line-drive single to left field. The next two Sherwood batters popped out, but senior Joseph Chamberlain, in a pinch-hitting role, drew a walk to keep the inning alive.

Barzee then stepped up and came through with one of the big plays of the game for the Bowmen, as he ripped a 2-2 pitch for a line-drive double down the right-field line, with the ball landing barely in fair territory. Balfour and junior pinch runner Keegan Lawrence both scored on the hit to cut the lead to 3-2.

by: DAN BROOD - WE'RE NO. 1 -- Sherwood senior Jacob Urbach (center) knows the Bowmen finished in the top spot in the state.“I just tried to put it in play,” Barzee said. “It was a fastball away, and I went with the pitch. I watched it the whole way. When it hit fair, I was ecstatic.”

After Barzee’s two-run double, Bend called on DeGaetano to take the mound in relief, but he had troubles finding the strike zone. Senior Logan Ballarché and Moore each drew a walk on four pitches to load the bases. Senior Anthony Sherwood followed with another four-pitch walk, bringing home Barzee to tie the game at 3-3.

After another Bend pitching change, Sherwood senior Cyrus Mooney walked on a 3-2 pitching driving in Ballarché to give the Bowmen their first lead of the game, at 4-3.

Bend tried to answer back in its half of the sixth, loading the bases with two outs. But Waker fielded a ground ball off the bat of DeGaetano and made the throw to first to end the inning. It was the second time in the game that Waker made a play to end an inning in a pressure situation.

“I wasn’t nervous at all,” he said. “I was just doing my part for the team. Everyone gives it their all.”

The Bowmen then broke things open in the top of the seventh inning, scoring seven runs in the frame.

Urbach, leading off the inning, was hit by a pitch. Taylor then singled to right and junior Jake Reimer drew a walk to load the bases with no outs. Barzee then came up with his second big hit of the game, as he singled to left field, driving in senior pinch runner Logan Dix and Taylor to up the Sherwood lead to 6-3.

“There were no outs and they were playing their infield in,” Barzee said. “So I just tried to hit it hard.”

by: DAN BROOD - VICTORY SPEECH -- Sherwood High School baseball coach Jon Strohmaier talks to his team following the state title-game win. Ballarché and Moore then drew back-to-back walks, bringing in Reimer to make the score 7-3. With one out in the frame and the bases loaded, Mooney drew a walk, driving in Barzee. Balfour then drove in both Ballarché and Moore with a single to center field, upping the lead to 10-3. Mooney then scored when Bend committed a throwing error on a ball hit by Taylor, capping off the big inning and giving Sherwood an 11-3 lead.

Bend cut the lead to 11-4 after senior Kyle Bailey scored on a sacrifice fly by Erlandson in the seventh inning. But, with two outs in the frame, Godlove hit a grounder to Taylor at shortstop. The sophomore made a strong throw to first for the final out of the game, igniting Sherwood’s championship celebration.

“I was thinking ‘just don’t mess up,’” Taylor said with a smile. “Then it was crazy. It was relief and happiness.”

“Joe (Balfour) and I made a promise that we’d meet at the bottom of the dog pile after we won,” Urbach said. “And we did.”

“It was just excitement,” Balfour said. “To reach this achievement with this team was great. We never had any doubts.”

“This means everything to us,” Mooney said. “We saw the team in 2011 do it and how much hard work they put in. It was like déja vu this year, but it was better, because we did it.”

Moore, making his third start of the preseason, picked up the pitching victory. In five innings of work, he gave up three runs on seven hits while striking out five and walking two.

“I think I did my part,” he said. “I made some mistakes early, but, after the first inning, I told myself to do my best and not let them score again.”

“Riley didn’t have his best stuff today, but he really battled,” Strohmaier said. “He did a great job.”

by: DAN BROOD - THE BEST -- Sherwood High School senior Alex Barzee leads the celebration following the Bowmen's win over Bend in Saturday's state title game.Balfour pitched the final two innings in relief to get the save. He closed out all four of Sherwood’s playoff games, getting two wins and two saves.

Sherwood, as a team, had seven hits in the contest. Barzee led the way, going 2 for 4 at the plate with a double, two runs scored and four RBIs.

“It’s a good way to end things up,” he said.

“He had two huge hits,” Strohmaier said. “There was one time where I didn’t know if he’d be able to hit varsity pitching, but he had a phenomenal year.”

Balfour went 3 for 5 at the plate with a run scored and two RBIs. Taylor went 2 for 5 with a run scored. Mooney drew a pair of bases-loaded walks for two RBIs.

The Bowmen also played their usual brand of strong defense, highlighted by Ballarché’s run-saving diving catch in left field in the bottom of the fifth inning.

For Bend, Koski went 3 for 3 at the plate with a run scored and an RBI. Junior Dalton Hurd went 3 for 4.

Other members of the state championship Sherwood team include senior Charlie Paul, senior TJ Haimoto, junior Spencer Clay and senior Jordan Morales.

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