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The Wildcats jump on the Foxes early and ride Keenan Sanford's pitching to victory.

PMG PHOTO: MILES VANCE - Wilsonville seniors Matthew Gomez (right) and Austin Lowery celebrate after Gomez's diving catch in right field ended the third inning of their team's 3-0 win over Silverton in the first round of the Class 5A state playoffs at Wilsonville High School on Wednesday, May 25.It wasn't perfect.

It wasn't always pretty.

But "it" — in this case, the Wilsonville baseball team's playoff opener against Silverton — was what it needed to be: a win.

The Wildcats, hosting the Silver Foxes in the first round of the Class 5A state playoffs at Wilsonville High School on Wednesday, May 25, started fast, got a top-notch pitching performance from senior Keenan Sanford and played stellar defense to pace their 3-0 victory.

"It's great to get a playoff win, especially round one at home," said senior shortstop Cole Hubka, who went 1 for 3 at the plate and scored his team's first run, and also recorded four assists. "It's always good to get off to a great start."

"Obviously, there's a little more we could have done in that game," said senior catcher Max Bledy, who went 1 for 1 at the plate with one run scored and two walks. "We're hoping to get three more (wins) and play on June 4, but it's a lot of fun playing with these guys."

It's especially fun when you get a pitching performance like the one Sanford provided. He threw all seven innings, shutting Silverton out on four hits and two hit batters while striking out seven.

"I felt great," Sanford said. "The defense behind me, they kind of saved me sometimes — Matthew Gomez made a hell of a catch. But like I said last time, I can just pump strikes and know these guys are going to back me up. These guys are studs."

"He was fantastic today," Bledy said of Sanford. "That was one of the most fun games I've ever got to catch. He was just painting corners, hitting that low pitch. It was a lot of fun today."

With the win, the team's sixth straight and 18th in its last 19 games, second-ranked Wilsonville improved to 24-3 overall after winning the Northwest Oregon Conference. No. 15 Silverton, meanwhile, saw its three-game winning streak snapped and ended its year at 15-12 after tying for fourth in the Mid-Willamette Conference.

While Wilsonville started fast and controlled the game throughout, the Wildcats didn't exactly light it up with their bats, either. They managed just three hits off Silverton senior starter Robert Brockamp (he threw five innings and allowed three runs on three hits and four walks while striking out three) and junior reliever Joshua Ritchey (one inning with no runs on no hits and one walk with no strikeouts).

But in the end, none of that mattered after the first inning. Hubka got things started when he led off with an infield single, took second on an error, stole third and scored on a Brockamp wild pitch.

Bledy and senior Rochne Beecham then walked back-to-back with one out, and freshman Mark Wiepert followed with an RBI double to center field while junior Will Hemsley added a groundout to plate Beecham to give their team a 3-0 lead.

While Silverton didn't score, it's not like the Foxes didn't have their chances. They got the leadoff runner aboard and sacrificed them to second in both the second and third innings, but failed to score each time.

The Foxes then got two singles in the fifth, but failed to score again, and after that, Sanford shut the door, setting down Silverton's final six batters in order.

While Wilsonville wasn't at its offensive best against Silverton, the Wildcats got the "W" and know they'll be better in games to come.

"I feel like defensively, we just need to keep doing what we're doing," Sanford said. "Offensively, (we just need to) have discipline at the plate, make the pitcher work, extend at-bats, get deep into their bullpen and we'll be OK."

"We've got a hell of a defense and a hell of an offense," Bledy said. "If we just do our jobs all the way through, I'm pretty confident in this team."

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