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Sandy edges Hood River for 1st baseball crown

The Pioneers climb out of a 3-0 hole to down Eagles 8-3 in the 5A championship game


by: SANDY POST: PARKER LEE - Sandy players swarm Austin Carson after his game-ending catch. SALEM – After pitching the Sandy baseball team past Sherwood in the semifinals last week, ace Carson Dwyre had three days off to prepare for the Pioneers’ 5A state championship showdown against Hood River. He knew he was getting the ball in the title game, and it was no secret the Pioneers had no intentions of ever going to the bullpen in the biggest game in their history.

Armed with that knowledge, Dwyre refused to rest. Instead, he ran about 10 miles in the 72 hours leading up to Saturday’s championship, just to keep his endurance up.

If Dwyre wants to take a break now, he has earned it.

Dwyre went the distance and threw a complete-game four-hitter, leading the Pioneers to an 8-3 win and their first-ever baseball state championship.

“When we got that last out, I couldn’t believe it,” Dwyre said. Nothing else in the world mattered at that moment. We just won state. It’s the most amazing feeling in the world.”

When the pre-game buildup and hype was finally over and Dwyre took the mound to open the game, he and the Pioneers were amped up – almost to a fault.

Three of the first five Hood River hitters singled off Dwyre. The Sandy defense, which has been one of the team’s strengths this season, committed a pair of uncharacteristic errors in the first inning. The Eagles scored two unearned runs and put up a three-spot on the Pioneers to start the game.

“I came in way too energetic and way too pumped, and I didn’t have control of anything,” Dwyre said. “We knew we had a battle on our hands and I just settled down and got back to what I usually do.”

After the first inning, Dwyre was untouchable. He didn’t allow another hit until there were two outs in the seventh inning, and no Hood River player advanced past second base again.

Despite Dwyre’s brilliance, once he settled it, Sandy still had work to do at the plate. The Pioneers responded to Hood River’s three-run first by scoring twice in their half of the first to make it a 3-2 ball game. Shortstop Bryce Tilton led off with a double to spark the inning for Sandy.

“It was big for us to come back and score a couple,” Martin said. “It showed that we weren’t going to just quit. We were going to compete, which is what we have done all year.”

The Eagles took that lead into the bottom of the fifth inning. Sandy’s star pitcher then came up big with his bat. With runners on first and second, Dwyre connected on a two-out, two-strike offering and shot a flare over the head of Hood River shortstop Skyler Hunter that found the outfield grass. Kyle Stipe scored from second to tie the game.

Rhett Schilperoort and Sam Kalar followed Dwyre with two more run-scoring singles to put the Pioneers on top. A throwing error by Hood River’s Kam Walker gave the Pioneers one more and they left the fifth inning with a 6-3 edge. Sandy added two runs in the sixth to give Dwyre a five-run cushion.

“It really came down to us getting timely hitting,” Martin said. “Run down the lineup and everybody did something to help us.”

Hood River scratched out two base runners with two outs in the top of the seventh, but Dwyre then got Alix Jimenez to pop up to the right side. Sandy first baseman Austin Carson drifted over to the Hood River dugout and reached over the railing to make the catch for the final out.

“The first-base coach was kind of in the way, but I thought the ball was going to stay in play, so I just reached over and made the play,” Carson said. “I’ve been waiting for this day to come, and it came. We are state champions.”

Carson went 2-for-4 with an RBI at the plate. Catcher Cody Welty also had two hits and an RBI. Stipe walked four times, stole two bases and scored twice.

Dwyre earned the complete-game win as he allowed four hits and one earned run in seven innings. Including Sandy’s play-in qualifier against Wilson, Dwyre posted an earned run average of 0.47 in the postseason as he allowed just 13 hits and two earned runs in 29.2 innings. He was named Most Valuable Player of the championship game.

View a photo gallery from the 5A title game at parkerlee.exposuremanager.com.