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By Dan Brood 

This past spring, the Sherwood High School baseball team boasted a powerful one-two pitching punch. 

But this wasn’t just any one-two punch.

It was a lefty-righty pitching punch.

It was a one-two punch from the same family — in fact, from the same bedroom.

To be more precise, the one-two punch was comprised by brothers in arms. 

And those arms helped power the Bowmen to their best season at the Class 6A level.

Ian Umlandt and Nolan Umlandt led the way for the Sherwood squad, while also enjoying a tight-knit brotherly bond — playing a full season together at the varsity level for the first time — as they held down the top two spots on the Bowmen pitching staff.

“It was cool,” Ian Umlandt, a 2022 Sherwood graduate, said this month as he sat in the third-base dugout at Sherwood High School. “His freshman year, my junior year, the whole COVID-shortened year, was also really cool. But I think this year was much more meaningful. We got a full season, we got the playoffs. We had the opportunities to really prove ourselves, and (Nolan) really took a big step forward. He stepped into a huge leadership role this year — on the mound, at the plate. He stepped up and played shortstop almost all season, after our starting shortstop got hurt. It was cool to see.”

“It meant a lot,” said Nolan Umlandt, a Sherwood junior-to-be. “This past year meant a lot more than the COVID season, because we got to the playoffs. This year was really special. We had a great group of guys. We had a lot of talent. So, to come out and get one more last year with my brother was really big, especially since we performed well. It was a lot of fun, especially in the playoffs.”

The Bowmen went 24-6 this spring, reaching the quarterfinal round of the playoffs for the first time in Class 6A. While they definitely got plenty of help from their talented, determined teammates, the Umlandt brothers played a major part in that success.

“Top to bottom, the 2022 team is the best team we've ever rolled out at Sherwood, but Ian and Nolan put us on another level with their abilities on the mound,” Sherwood head coach Nate Hickok said. “They are both relentless competitors and workers, and continuously pursue their potential.”

Ian, a left-hander, had a 7-0 win-loss record with an earned-run average of 1.12. In 69 innings, he gave up 33 hits while striking out 118 batters and walking just 15. At the plate, Ian, who mainly played first base when he wasn’t pitching, had a .427 batting average with nine doubles, four triples, two home runs, eight stolen bases, 33 runs and 30 RBIs in 96 at-bats.

Ian was named the Pacific Conference player of the year and earned first-team all-conference accolades as a pitcher and a first baseman. He was a first-team Class 6A all-state selection as a pitcher.

Nolan, a right-hander, had an 8-1 pitching record with an 0.62 ERA. In 62 and one-third innings, he gave up 30 hits while striking out 90 batters and walking 15. At the plate, Nolan, who primarily played shortstop when he wasn’t pitching, hit for a .267 average with seven doubles, two triples, a home run, seven stolen bases, 19 runs and 14 RBIs in 86 at-bats.

Nolan was a first-team all-Pacific Conference pick as a pitcher and an infielder.

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The Umlandt brothers stepped up even more for the Bowmen in the playoffs. Ian struck out 15 batters in six innings in a 4-3 first-round win over Gresham. Nolan threw a three-hit shutout, striking out eight, in a nail-biting 1-0 second-round victory over neighboring Tualatin. Nolan also accounted for the lone Bowmen run, with a home run, in a 2-1 quarterfinal loss to Lakeridge and standout pitcher Paul Wilson. 

Despite the gaudy season statistics and the clutch postseason performances, getting the chance to play a full season together seems to be what meant the most to the Umlandt brothers.

“Between the two of us, it was cool to share those 12 weeks together,” Ian said. “Especially with him being two years younger than me. He’s an underclassman, and for him to work hard enough to start is really special.”

Baseball from the beginning

For older brother Ian Umlandt, baseball was best. That was the case for him even back when he was young — very young.

“I probably played T-ball when I was four or five,” he said. “Baseball was my first love. I still have the video games. I had 2K11. So, I was seven or eight years old when it came out. I’ve got so many baseball cards from when I was younger. It was everything baseball. I was a fourth-grader waking up early to turn on SportsCenter, not turning on a cartoon or something like that. I wasn’t a typical young kid, because it was just eat, sleep, breathe baseball.”

Younger brother Nolan Umlandt wanted to follow in his brother’s footsteps while developing his own love for the sport.

“I saw him do it, so I probably wanted to do the same thing,” he said. “We were just a family that loved baseball. My dad loved baseball. We just kept doing it every day. I went out with my dad and my brother. He took us hitting and stuff like that. And it just fell into what we loved to do, and we just kept on doing it.”

Years before they got to play together on the Sherwood varsity team, the Umlandt brothers got the opportunity to play for the same squad — of course, with positive results.

“We played Pioneer baseball, where we were on the same team for two years,” Ian said. “We won our Pioneer League championship. We were in Tualatin then, and then we jumped over to Sherwood to play JBO (Junior Baseball Organization). We played one year together in Sherwood, when he was a second-grader playing on our fourth-grade team. That was the last time, before last year, when we were on the same team.”

Freshmen fitting in

Ian and Nolan Umlandt both received their first varsity action at Sherwood when they were freshmen. 

Although with Ian, who played as a freshman for the 2019 Sherwood team that went 17-11, he had to be convinced to join the Bowmen squad. 

“I originally wasn’t going to play high school baseball,” he said. “I was just going to stick with our club team and do spring national events, but I’m glad that I changed my mind. (Pitcher) Braden Thorn and (shortstop) Anthony Garrett, those were a couple of the guys that I talked to, and (they) helped me change my mind. And I’m glad that I did, because what it turned in to was something special.” 

Special, but not without some anxiety along the way. 

“The big thing was, well, first, it was very uncomfortable,” Ian said. “We had 14 seniors that year, one junior and me. So, it was a team of guys who had been around. We had guys who had played with Adley (Rutschman) and Zak (Taylor) their freshman and sophomore years. So, for me to step in, I had to prove myself.”

He did, proving to be a key left-handed pitcher for that team, especially late in the season.

“Over time, it became something that was really special,” Ian said. “I was able to contribute toward the end of the year, in a big way. There are a few relationships with some of those guys. Braden Thorn (who went on to play at Linfield University), he’s incredible, and there’s a couple other guys who I still reach out to. It was special, and I’m grateful for the opportunity that I had.”

Two years later, Nolan got that same opportunity, although it was during the 2021 shortened season.

“I played left field most of the year,” he said. “I did get DH’ed for most of the year, so I only had like seven at-bats throughout the year, but I was our main guy out of the bullpen. I got 12 innings in league, with a 0.00 ERA. It was a little tough to compete as a freshman, but I’m glad I got to contribute on defense. I really enjoyed that.”

Did it help having an older brother who went through the same thing?

“Honestly, I don’t remember a lot of advice,” Nolan said. “But I knew I wasn’t going to just walk in and play. I had to prove myself, and, obviously, me being Ian’s younger brother, some people knew I had some baseball talent, but I still had to come out and respond. I wish I could have hit more, but it was still a really good freshman year, and I’m glad I got to play that year on varsity.”

“I think the big thing I remember telling him was to be patient, your opportunity will come,” Ian said. “We saw that a lot this year. Some younger guys, some freshmen like Connor Parry, were super patient all year, and when he got a chance to throw and hit, he just exploded.

“My freshman year, I spent the first five weeks on the bench. But we had a couple guys quit, a couple get hurt, and the next day, I was hitting sixth and DH’ing. Everything can change in one day. It’s baseball — you’re going to get your opportunity at some point.”

Brotherly advice

While Nolan Umlandt might not remember getting a lot of advice from his older brother as a Sherwood freshman, he’s quick to point out that it has been extremely beneficial to have an older brother as a fellow pitcher. 

“He’s definitely helped me a lot,” Nolan said. “It’s been good to have him, because I’ve learned a lot, how to be mature and how to be smarter on the field. It’s really helped a lot, especially with my development throughout the years.”

Meanwhile, Ian Umlandt, even as the older brother, admits that he’s also learned from his younger sibling.

“I watched him pitch all year as our No. 2 starter, but he might have even been better than me on the mound this year,” Ian said. “During the high school season, he was our lock-down starter all year. I know he didn’t pitch as many innings as I did, but he was consistent all year. 

“You watch him and he just attacks hitters. The big thing I’ve learned from him is that you’re in control on the mound, but he just attacked hitters. He had a lot of 9- or 10-pitch innings. He just attacked, attacked, attacked and tried not to do too much. That’s something I struggled with at times, so that’s something I picked up from watching him.” 

Sibling rivalry

While Ian and Nolan Umlandt help each other when it comes to pitching, they both say there’s also a friendly sibling rivalry they share.

“Oh yeah, we had our banquet a few weeks ago, and our coach was talking about all the team and individual records that we set,” Ian said. “I set the school record for strikeouts, and Nolan just threw out there, ‘I’m going to break it next year.’ There’s always been a competitive, sibling rivalry.”

It’s a rivalry that pushes them both.

“It’s definitely motivation. I always want to be better than him,” Nolan said with a smile. “It helps me set better, higher goals. It’s always been that way. When we were younger, it was who could hit the ball farthest off a tee, who could do this, who could do that. It’s kind of grown on us throughout the years. We were kind of racing to 90 miles per hour on the mound, and he beat me to that. 

“It’s just a competitive atmosphere. That’s what we like to do — to compete and challenge each other, and go after it.” 

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“I’m glad that he’s got two more years, because he always wants to be better,” Ian said. “That’s what’s going to make him really, really good, especially when he goes to college. He’s got some colleges that are interested in him, and that’s what they’re going to love, because he’s so competitive. I know a lot of guys would crumble into the shadows of having an older brother, but he just took off and embraced it.”

Pitching style

While they’re brothers, and both successful on the mound, Ian and Nolan Umlandt have very different pitching styles.

The biggest difference, of course, comes from the fact that Ian is left-handed — at least when it comes to pitching. 

“We don’t know how that happened. My grandpa is left-handed, but he’s the only left-handed person in our entire family,” he said. “But I do most things with my right hand. So, I’m kind of ambidextrous. I’m more coordinated with my right hand. I write and eat and do everything with my right hand, but I throw with my left hand. I got lucky.”

And he throws the baseball very, very well with his left hand.

“Being a lefty is a little bit easier. You can get away with a little bit more,” Ian said. “I don’t feel like I have any true weakness. I think the big thing for me, going forward, will be getting stronger and getting my velocity up a couple ticks. I finished this season at 89-91 (mph) in my last start. That’s pretty good for a left-handed pitcher.”

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But for Ian, being successful on the mound comes from more than just throwing at high velocity.

“I throw a curveball, a slider, a four-seam fastball and I throw a circle changeup,” he said. “I love throwing the circle changeup early in counts to right-handed hitters, to get ground balls. I love attacking early with the fastball and saying, ‘Here’s the fastball, and if you can hit it, then there you go, and I tip my cap to you.’ But if not, I’m ahead 0-1, 0-2, 1-2 in counts and then I put guys away with sliders. I didn’t need my slider a lot in the high school season, but I used my curveball a lot.”

Meanwhile, it’s no secret how the right-handed Nolan Umlandt is going to approach hitters.

“I’m really aggressive. I don’t bow down to any hitter, no matter how good you are,” he said. “I just attack guys. I’ll throw any pitch at any time, any count. I will get ahead of you, and I will bury you. I just love to see a hitter just put his head down and walk back to the dugout.”

Nolan gets a smile — a smile of determination — on his face when he talks about being on the mound.

“I love it,” he said. “It’s awesome, especially when you’re in control of the game and it’s in your hands.”

Hanging out at home

To say that Ian and Nolan Umlandt are just as close off the field as they are on the field might be an understatement.

“We share a room. We have bunk beds, actually,” said Ian, who occupies the top bunk. “We’ve had bunk beds for the past three, four years now. All of high school we’ve had bunk beds. So, it will probably be a little weird for him, and he’ll probably enjoy it, when I move out.”

“It’s pretty cool,” Nolan said. “Honestly, sometimes you want your own room. I’ve argued with my parents about that for a little while now. But it’s been fun. It keeps us really close, and it’s easy to get along, most of the times. I really don’t have any problems.”

No problems, but plenty of togetherness.

“We’ve just grown up together, and baseball has brought us closer together than ever,” Nolan said. “We’ve stayed connected, especially playing baseball here together. We’re together every day after school, before school, lifting, we talk about the game, how it went, what we need to do better, as teammates, as leaders, how we can help improve our team. That’s one of the reasons why I think we were so good this year — we had such a great connection with everybody.”

“Everything outside the house, we’ve always done together, whether that’s baseball, hanging out with friends, going to the field and playing wiffle ball, workouts — everything has always been done together,” Ian said. “The nice thing is that we’re so close in age that there was never a huge skill gap. There was just a physicality gap a few times, but everything is so easy to do together. We have our bouts. We have a younger brother (13-year-old Lincoln, who also plays baseball), and he has his own room.”

A bright future

While Ian and Nolan Umlandt enjoyed and benefited from their time together on the Sherwood varsity baseball team, those days are over, as Ian will be playing at the University of Oregon in the upcoming school year.

But both brothers are looking forward to the future.

“I’m off to Eugene,” Ian said with a smile. “I committed pretty early. I committed my sophomore summer, about two months after COVID hit. I had to wait until November of 2021 to actually sign (his national letter of intent). That was a pretty long wait. The commitment is a verbal agreement. Nothing is official until you sign. So, it was a little nerve-racking at times. But you just work on yourself, and continue to do the things that you do, and trust that everything will fall into place.”

Ian added that the University of Oregon was the right place for him to have that happen.

“It’s close to home,” he said. “I’m the oldest of four. For my parents, grandparents, friends and family, it’s a quick drive to come down and watch. I love the fit. The pitching coach, Jake Angier, is incredible, and he has a huge track record of being successful with the arms. The head coach, Mark Wasikowski, is a guy I can’t wait to play for. He’s a guy that you know that you’ll be ready to go to war with every day.”

While Ian also excelled with the bat and the glove while playing at Sherwood, he’s anxiously awaiting to see what he can do when he gets to concentrate solely on pitching.

“I’ve never really had the opportunity to focus just on pitching, and there’s so much that goes into it,” he said. “There’s your strength work, and you have to throw, you have to do long toss, there’s your full warm-up, all your mobility work. Oh, it takes forever. So, to actually be able to put all of my time and focus on that is more refreshing. I’m looking forward to the opportunity to be consistent. It’s an everyday thing when you leave for college — weights and practice and throwing, every day.”

Meanwhile, Nolan is looking forward to his junior year at Sherwood, where he is striving to take on more of a leadership role with what should be a talented Bowmen squad.

“I’m really excited,” he said. “Me and (senior-to-be outfielder) Nick Gribble, we’re really going to hold down this team. I’m excited to see what we can do. We’ve got a whole lot of talent returning. I think we’re going to be really good again.”

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While he is looking to help the Bowmen win in 2023, Nolan is also looking to improve his game on the mound.

“I definitely look to get stronger,” he said. “After I get done throwing this summer, I’m going to hit the weights harder than I did this past winter and try to put on more weight, try to get to 185 or 190 (pounds) and work on my strength and mobility. I’m looking to get to high 80s or low 90s next year, as a junior. That’s what I’m shooting for.”

Hickok, the Sherwood coach and a former Bowmen three-sport star, sees big things ahead for both Umlandt brothers. 

“In my opinion, what separates Ian from other great high school players is his abilities as a leader. He set the standard for the athletes in our program, and I’m looking forward to seeing Nolan take on that role in the future,” Hickok said. 

“Personally, I’m dreading not having Ian in the lineup every day next year, but I can’t wait to see all that he’ll accomplish at U of O and beyond. I have a feeling that Nolan will be following a similar trajectory.”

Teammates? Opponents?

While no one knows what the future holds, there are some intriguing possibilities for the Umlandt brothers. 

They might one day find themselves as teammates once again in the college ranks, or they could find themselves in opposite dugouts on a college field. Both of those scenarios are OK with the Umlandts.

“I definitely thought about both, playing together or playing against each other,” Nolan said. “It would be really cool to play together. Playing against each other would be even cooler, starting against each other. We’ll just have to wait and see. I still have a lot of time to figure it out.”

“My future is a little more set in stone. But he’s going to have the opportunity and the choice, probably in the next few months, or the next year or so, to pick out where he wants to go to school and what fits best for him,” Ian said. “I know we’d both love to play together again. I know he’s not a fan of the cold, wet climate, so he’d probably thrive going somewhere warm, but in general, I think we both would love that. We build off of each other. We were on the same field every inning this entire year. We could be roommates again, too.”

Whatever the future holds, Sherwood baseball will always have a place in the hearts of the Umlandt brothers. 

“I love Coach Hick (Hickok). I love how much he puts in to our team. He’s stuck with this team and this city for a long time,” Nolan said. “I’m excited to help lead a really good group of guys who just want to win and get better.”

“Sherwood baseball absolutely has meant a lot to me,” Ian said. “These three-and-a-half years were just incredible, and I’m forever grateful for what Sherwood baseball has given me. And I hope one day I can give back. I’d love coaching, and I can’t wait to one day be a coach at whatever level. I’m forever indebted for what Sherwood baseball, the coaching staff and the community has meant, and the support they’ve given me.”

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