Sherwood smacks St. Helens for its seventh straight win

by: DAN BROOD - HOME RUN SWING -- Sherwood High School senior Travis Kotowski watches the ball take off as he blasts a two-run first-inning home run for the Bowmen in their 8-1 win at St. Helens on Monday. ST. HELENS — Better.

And better.

That’s just the way the Sherwood High School baseball team was hoping things would go.

The Bowmen are hoping to keep getting better — although, they already looked pretty darn impressive in Monday’s game at St. Helens.

Sherwood, getting strong pitching from junior Zak Taylor, getting solid hitting all game and playing flawless on defense, ran to an 8-1 win over the Lions in a Northwest Oregon Conference game played at St. Helens High School.

“We’re really getting things together,” Taylor said after the victory. “Everyone is just doing their job. No one is trying to do too much, and everyone is buying into the program.”

“We’re starting to turn the corner,” Sherwood coach Jon Strohmaier said. “We still have some work to do, but I’m hoping we’re right on schedule. We’ll see.”

by: DAN BROOD - BRINGING THE HEAT -- Sherwood High School junior Zak Taylor fires a pitch to the plate during the Bowmen's 8-1 win at St. Helens. With the loss, St. Helens fell to 3-6 in conference play and to 5-11 on the season to that point. With the win, their seventh straight, the Bowmen improved their conference-leading NWOC record to 8-1 at that point (11-6 overall), giving them a two-game lead on Sandy and Wilsonville, who are tied for second at 6-3.

“It’s been good defense and pitching,” Sherwood senior first baseman Travis Kotowski said of Sherwood’s winning streak. “And we’re getting our hitting together.”

The Bowmen certainly got a good pitching performance from Taylor in Monday’s game. In six innings of work, the right-hander gave up one run on three hits while striking out six and walking one.

“I thought I through pretty well,” Taylor said. “I just tried to throw strikes, and I knew I had our defense behind me. Three up and three down is always the goal.”

“We can always trust Zak,” Kotowski said. “And we have our defense.”

“Defense and pitching will win a lot of games,” Strohmaier said.

by: DAN BROOD - SWIPING -- Sherwood senior Keegan Lawrence (21) steals second base during the Bowmen's win at St. Helens on Monday. Lawrence also went on to steal third base.Meanwhile, Kotowski and the Bowmen would give Taylor all the run support he needed in the top of the first inning.

Sherwood sophomore Adley Rutschman led off the frame with a single to center field. Rutschman then moved up to second base on a sacrifice bunt by senior Keegan Lawrence.

Kotowski then stepped up and blasted a high, carrying shot that cleared the fence in left-center field for a two-run home run, his third round-tripper of the season.

“He (St. Helens starter Bryce Mulcahy) threw me a first-pitch fastball, and I jumped on it,” Kotowski said. “It was a home-run swing, but I wasn’t trying to hit a home run.”

St. Helens got a run back in the bottom of the first inning, when senior Josh Keller drew a leadoff walk and ended up scoring on a groundout by Mulcahy. But that will be all the Lions would get all game.

The Bowmen added to their lead with a run in the top of the third inning. The speedy Lawrence drew a one-out walk. The proceeded to steal both second and third base and then scored when St. Helens committed an error on a fly ball hit by Bowmen junior Cameron DuFault, giving Sherwood a 3-1 lead.

The Bowmen kept adding on from there.

Sherwood seniors Riley Moore and Ryan Pino drew back-to-back walks to lead off the fourth inning. Both runners moved up a base on a sacrifice bunt by senior Scott Skurdahl. Moore then scored when St. Helens committed an error on a sacrifice fly by junior Dayton Vaughn. Rutschman then plated Pino with an infield single, giving the Bowmen a 5-1 lead.

by: DAN BROOD - FOR THE DEFENSE -- Sherwood senior shortstop Spencer Clay gets ready to make a throw to first for the Bowmen in their win at St. Helens.In the fifth inning, Taylor hit a one-out single to right field and he ended up scoring on a groundout by Pino. Moore, who also singled, would score on a single Skurdahl, upping the margin to 7-1.

Sherwood capped off the scoring in the top of the seventh inning, when Taylor, who was hit by a pitch with one out in the frame, crossed the plate on senior Nathan Christler’s two-out single to center field.

“I thought we had a great approach at the plate today,” Taylor said. “We jumped on the fastball.”

Sherwood, as a team, had eight hits in the win.

Rutschman went 2 for 4 at the plate with a stolen base, a run scored and an RBI. Taylor went 2 for 3 with two runs scored. Taylor also had an extremely hard-hit line-drive out to Keller in center field — after which, Lions’ left fielder Noah Weitzel said to Keller “I’ve never seen a ball hit that hard in my life.”

Kotowski, Moore, Skurdahl and Christler added one hit apiece for the Bowmen. Sherwood senior left-hander Andrew Kringlen pitched a scoreless seventh inning to complete the victory.

Prior to Monday’s game, Sherwood scored a 6-2 win over St. Helens in a game played last Thursday at Wilsonville High School.

Taylor went 3 for 3 at the plate in that game with three doubles, a run scored and two RBIs. Rutschman went 2 for 2 with a run scored and an RBI.

Senior Lucas Johnson picked up the win on the mound. In five innings of work, Johnson gave up one run on two hits while striking out 10 and walking two.

On Tuesday, Sherwood opened a three-game conference series with Liberty by scoring a 6-0 win over the Falcons in a game played at Sherwood.

Moore turned in a complete-game shutout performance on the mound for the Bowmen in the victory. In sevein innings of work, Moore gave up four hits while striking out seven and walking two.

Taylor paced the offense with a home run and two RBIs. Rutschman scored a pair of runs.

The teams were scheduled to play the second game of the series Wednesday at Liberty. Results of that game weren’t available when The Times went to press.

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