With the league championship title within their grasp, the Bruins conquered the St. Mary’s Crusaders this week for a 3-0 series sweep after playing their first game at home on Tuesday and wrapping up their last two games with a doubleheader on Thursday.

The Bruins took a 1-0 win in the first game, a 10-1 win in the second game and a 16-0 win in the third game.

“We played well and showed up with a good week of workouts,” said Bruins coach Keith Wallin. “Our pitching this week was absolutely spectacular. Our pitchers dominated and our defense behind them was just as good. This sets us up for a huge week next week.”

Tuesday away

The Bruins traveled to Medford on Tuesday to take on St. Mary’s, coming out on top at a close 1-0 after a tense, nearly runless game.

Neither team scored in the first inning as they sized each other up. Then, Andrew Burger of the Bruins scored the single run of the game in the second inning. From there it was a standoff up until things wrapped up in the seventh inning when the Bruins triumphed 1-0.

Both team’s pitchers were on point, with Roman Worthey of the Bruins pitching seven innings, gaining 17 first-pitch strikes and 10 strikeouts over the course of the game. Worthey nearly pitched a hitless game against the Crusaders, who managed one to the Bruin’s two. Burger went home with the sole RBI of the game from the second inning.

Thursday at home

The first of Thursday’s game saw the Bruins set the tempo in the first inning as the Crusaders scored the first run, only to have the Bruins follow up with a huge seven runs of their own.

The Bruins proceeded to score single runs in the second, third and fourth inning before teetering on the edge of having the game called after the fifth because of a ten-point difference.

The Crusaders stayed in the game until the seventh inning as they kept the Bruins at 10-1, a single point away from ending the game. Neither team was able to score before the end as the game wrapped up in the Bruins favor at 10-1.

Adam Shew pitched seven innings for the Bruins with 18 first-pitch strikes and 15 strikeouts. Brig Schofield and Manny Zamora tied for most RBIs with two each, while Jon Kleespies took most QABs at three. Schofield and Burger also tied for most hits and two each.

The Bruins showed no mercy in the second game as they came out with a big four unopposed runs in the first inning. Keeping the Crusaders in check, the Bruins scored another two runs in the second and then another four in the third, taking the score to 10-0.

The Bruins then topped things off with six points in the fourth inning before shutting down the Crusaders in the fifth to take a 16-0 win.

Burger pitched the majority of the game at four innings, hurling 14 first-pitch strikes and six strikeouts over the course of the game. Payton Armentrout pitched the remaining inning, taking a single strikeout.

Jason Vanginderen had a big game with six runs batted in and tied for most hits at four with Worthey. Kleespies had the most QABs at four, along with two walks.

Playoff preparations

With a 21-1 overall record and a 15-game win streak, the Bruins have been hovering near the top of the OSAA 3A rankings as they prepare to seize the league title next week when they face Sutherland.

The Bruins currently only require a single win against Sutherland to secure the league title, pending the results of Sutherland’s Friday night match.

If Sutherland loses to South Umpqua, the Bruins win the league title by default. South Umpqua defeated Sutherland in their first game on Tuesday, 18-7.

Meanwhile, the Bruins have been bouncing between being ranked first and third in the OSAA rankings this week as they defeated St. Mary’s, with ranking affected by not only their own record this year but also their opponent’s records.

As the Bruins are bound for the state, it’s now a matter of getting a few additional games in before rankings are frozen to earn a higher spot.

Currently, the Bruins have scheduled additional games against Lost River on May 15 and Hidden Valley on May 17. Lost River is a 2A school and was last ranked at No. 18, while Hidden Valley is 4A and ranked No. 3.

A high OSAA rank has its benefits once a team enters the playoffs. When ranks are frozen, higher ranked teams stand a better chance of hosting playoff games, which would be a big boon to the Bruins, who may need to travel as far as Portland to face some of their 3A opponents.

The Bruins face Sutherland on Tuesday away starting at 5 p.m. After that, the Bruins return to play their final pair of league games at home on Thursday starting at 3 p.m.

The Bruins then break for a week before they begin facing non-league opponents as they prepare for their run at the state title.

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