SMITHERS – The 1970’s hit “Long Time” by Boston certainly comes to mind when trying to find the perfect soundtrack to the Sherman High School Baseball season. It was 1997 when the Tide last tasted a Region 3 Section 3 Championship. Aaron Pettry was the Tide skipper 17 seasons ago. It would be his sons Jeremiah (head) and Matthew (assistant) leading the squad on Monday night as Sherman defeated No. 5 ranked Valley (Fayette) for the section crown, 4-2.
After defeating Van in extra innings last week to open section play, the Tide fell to the Greyhounds, 5-3. This left the marron and gold in a “do or die” situation that found them facing Valley in two straight games and needing to win both to advance.
John Hunter took the mound it that first meeting for Sherman. Hunter had jammed his thumb on his pitching hand in game one of the double header on Saturday. The first team All Coalfield Conference and Class A All State selection hurled 10 gutsy innings as the Tide pulled out the win, 7-6 in 11 frames. The four hour marathon logged over four hundred combined pitches to complete. Tyler Stewart, Aaron Lowe, Trevor Fauber and Jacob Barnette all stroked RBI hits to support their senior southpaw. The Tide had life. They were invigorated as they now knew they could beat the Greyhounds after dropping three straight to the Smithers Bombers. In the regular season, Valley squeaked by Sherman twice by two runs with one going to extras.
After the game, Tide head coach Jeremiah Pettry felt good about Aaron Lowe taking the mound for the title game. “Aaron has pitched and hit well all season. We have confidence that he will give us a chance to win. We feel good about our pitching matchup and we need to play good defense behind our guy.”
Lowe did not disappoint his skipper on Monday. The 6-foot 150 pound lefty left it all on the bump on this night and hit his spots while challenging the middle of the Greyhound lineup as if he somehow knew his teammates had his back on this night. Lowe tossed a gem, hurling a complete game no-hitter to send his team to regional action as Sherman took the game, 4-2.
“I leaned on my fastball tonight. I felt like I was getting stronger as the game went on,” said the junior. “I had to settle down in the sixth because my pitches were coming in high. Once I took a deep breath and relaxed, I got the ball back down in the zone. My teammates played well behind me and gave me a lot of support tonight.”
No example of that was better than the play in the sixth made by second baseman Tyler Stewart and infielder Jacob Barnett, who was playing first base on this night as John Hunter was patrolling real estate in centerfield. On the play, Stewart ranged left to scoop up a sharp daisy cutter off of the bat of Valley’s Damaria Davis. Stewart flicked the ball, off balance and ranging into the grass on a one hopper to Barnett who scooped the ball effortlessly out of the dirt to save at least one run. The play was as pretty as any you could see at any level.
“I was trying to stretch and stay in front of the ball,” said Barnette. “Tyler made a great play just fielding that ball.” Barnett contributed two RBIs on the day to add to his work with the glove. It is worthy of noting that Bailey Kirk did a remarkable job of corralling the occasional curve ball in the dirt for Sherman. The Tide catcher made tremendous strides as a freshman and will be an experienced backstop for future Tide hurlers to connect with.
For Lowe, it was a masterful performance in the most stressful situation. He took control of the game while fanning 11 Greyhounds as Valley put two unearned runs on the board in the third. Lowe helped his own cause with an RBI in the sixth, that helped seal the deal.
Sherman hits the road and will face Man on Monday for Regional bragging rights and a shot at the State Tournament. Sherman split during the regular season with the Hillbillies.
So, did coach Pettry call his father after the game as he was unable to attend? “I did call him and left a message. I look forward to sharing the news with him. I am so proud of the boys for never giving up and fighting hard. They deserve this.”
Assistant coach Mathew Pettry was reflective about the win. “I was a player on the 1997 Sherman team that last won a baseball sectional championship. This championship has been more enjoyable seeing this team see the rewards of their hard work and spirit. They have accomplished so much over this past season with wins over three ranked teams, there is so much more they can accomplish if they keep playing this hard and keep this level of enthusiasm.”
Sherman 0 0 0 0 3 1 x — 4 4 2
Valley 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 — 2 0 2
SHERMAN HITTING – John Hunter 2-4 with a double and triple, Jacob Barnette went 1-3 with two RBIs, Bailey Kirk 1-3, Aaron Lowe RBI
SHERMAN PITCHING – Aaron Lowe (WP) 7 IP, 0ER, 0 hits and 11 strikeouts
VALLEY PITCHING – Raeshawn Breckenridge (LP)