Most athletes know what they eat the day before a competition can have an effect on their performance.
Claremore senior Brooks Sherl and his family took advantage of Monday’s rainout by celebrating his 18th birthday with a trip to Osaka Steakhouse and Sushi Bar in Tulsa, and it is safe to say he ate well.
The steak and chicken Sherl devoured at the restaurant seemed to give him a boost at the plate less than 24 hours later, for he blasted three-consecutive home runs — all to right field — in leading the Zebras to shutout wins of 21-0 and 12-0 over Will Rogers in a District 5A-4 doubleheader Tuesday night at American Legion Park. Both games lasted only three innings each.
“I saw the ball well, and I hit the ball well,” said Sherl, who now has four career homers. “That’s really all there was to it. I didn’t change anything up, and I didn’t try to do too much. I just made contact and hit the ball far.”
His first two homers came in the first inning of Game 1, and he delivered the third in the opening frame of Game 2.
Claremore coach Jim Sherl, Brooks’ father, said though his oldest son isn’t a power hitter with lots of home runs to his name, he has gained some extra motivation in recent weeks from his brother Gannon, who is a sophomore on the team.
Gannon Sherl recently challenged Brooks Sherl to a competition to see who could hit the most home runs this season, and he held the lead for 14 days after notching one on March 9 at Skiatook.
After Tuesday, though, Brooks Sherl holds a comfortable advantage of 3-1. He had an opportunity at No. 4 but popped out to the pitcher on his final at-bat.
“There’s been some trash talk going on at home,” Jim Sherl said, “but I imagine that’ll be reversed a little bit. “I think his first three at-bats, he got up there and saw the ball well, tried to put it in play and squared it up and hit it out of the park. I think the fourth time he tried to hit a home run, and it showed.
“It’s pretty rare to see someone hit three in-a-row like that, and I think it was on about four pitches. I don’t think he saw a lot of pitches, he just saw it and put the good part of the bat on it.”
Like many sibling rivalries, Brooks and Gannon Sherl have grown closer together while constantly competing to be the better brother.
That is the beauty of what sports gives families like the Sherls. Regardless of who hits the most home runs, their desire to top one another won’t evaporate any time soon.
“Me and Gannon always compete in everything we do; we’re both very competitive,” Brooks Sherl said. “We like to win, but we both really hate to lose, and we just have little side bets and competitions going on. You don’t get to play baseball with your brother and have your dad be the coach very much, and it’s awesome.”
Although Gannon Sherl lost the home runs lead, his overall performance was far from disappointing.
He pitched the full three innings of Game 1, striking out five while allowing one hit and a walk on 44 pitches. In Game 2, he went 2-for-3 at the plate with a 2-RBI double that scored Derek Scuggins and Kio Penn in the third inning.
“He came out the first outing and was a little nervous and amped up, but we wanted to get him back out there and get him comfortable and let him get a few innings,” Jim Sherl said of his son’s performance on the mound.
The Zebras (8-2, 4-0 5A-4) finished with 20 hits overall and four doubles to go along with the three homers.
In addition to Brooks Sherl, Easton Phillips and Hunter Walters managed multiple hits in Game 1 with three and two, respectively. Phillips had four RBIs while Walters added three.
Gannon Sherl and Ethan Grimett were the team’s only multihit finishers of Game 2, registering two apiece while combining for four RBIs.
Phillips transferred his success to the mound in the second contest, throwing a perfect game with seven strikeouts on 41 pitches through three innings.
“Easton, that’s his second outing now, and he’s had two very good outings for us,” Jim Sherl said. “He’s a guy who is going to go out and throw strikes. The guys were teasing him about it, but I think he threw a perfect game. It was only a three-inning game, but still.
“Any time we get our guys to go up there and throw strikes, it gives us a chance.”
Claremore hosts Booker T. Washington at 10 a.m. Thursday on the opening day of the Tiger/Zebra Classic.