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CENTRAL POINT — Although a bit unconventional, Evan Erskine and Taylor Tibbets both came up with clutch plays that got the Crater baseball team off to the right start on Thursday.
Tibbets drove in a game-tying run on an error in the bottom of the seventh to open the door later for Erskine's game-winning, bases-loaded walk as the Comets edged Thurston, 3-2 in nine innings, in their opener at Anhorn Field.
The Comets (1-0) generated plenty of baserunners in the ninth inning, and they would need every last one to set up Erskine.
Taylor Pardee began the Comets' frame with a single and Tibbets was intentionally walked. Tanner Ryerson loaded the bases by reaching safely on a bunt slapped down the first base line that was misplayed by Thurston's first baseman.
Crater's Paul Turner grounded to Thurston's first baseman, who immediately threw home to force Pardee out at the plate. Tyler Aplin put another ball in play for the Comets but the Colts' third baseman denied Crater again with another forceout at home. Erskine then halted the stalemate without even putting the ball in play by cajoling a walk.
Earlier, Tibbets was able to force extra innings after Anthony Martin's double scored Ty Fox to put the Comets on the scoreboard. After Pardee's grounder advanced Joey Caballero to third base, Tibbets tied the game 2-all on a bobbled grounder to the shortstop.
Both the Colts and the Comets loaded the bases in the eighth inning. Thurston escaped its jam by forcing Martin to groundout, while the Comets forced another inning with a double play.
Fox gave up two unearned runs in five innings on two hits with three walks and five strikeouts. Blake Fahndrich picked up the victory with four innings in relief, yielding one hit against six walks and three strikeouts.
Martin went 2-for-4 for the Comets.
Thurston 001 100 000 — 2 3 4
Crater 000 000 201 — 3 6 3
Watson, Hutchinson (5), Clift (7) and Hallett; Fox, Fahndrich (6) and Aplin. W — Fahndrich (1-0). L — Clift. 2B — T: Clift, Watson; C: Erskine, Martin.
NORTH MEDFORD 8, HENLEY 1 — Host North Medford pitcher Colton Westfall surrendered one run in a complete-game effort and fellow sophomore Josh Berman belted a two-run home run as the Black Tornado overcame three errors for the nonleague win.
Westfall struck out eight with one walk and allowed just two hits against the Hornets (1-1), while Berman was 2-for-3 with three RBIs and one run scored. Henley's lone run was unearned.
Jared Evans also went 2-for-3 for the Tornado, while Taylor Raff added a double, drew three walks and scored once.
Henley starting pitcher Josh Overstreet struck out seven and walked four in five innings.
Henley 001 000 0 — 1 2 3
North Medford 100 403 x — 8 8 3
Overstreet, Mitchell (6) and Hilyard; Westfall and Zavala. W — Westfall (1-0). L — Overstreet (0-1). 2B — NM: Raff, Berman. HR — NM: Berman (1).
SOUTH MEDFORD 10, KLAMATH UNION 0, 5 inn. — Joe Cooney pitched a two-hitter with six strikeouts and one walk for South Medford in the season-opening win at Harry & David Field.
Jimmy Sporer helped break the game open during a five-run third inning with a two-run single that upped his total to three RBIs overall for the Panthers (1-0). Sporer also had two stolen bases.
Klamath Union 000 00 — 0 2 3
South Medford 145 0x — 10 8 0
Albert, Bradford (3) and Whisler; J. Cooney and White. W — Cooney (1-0). L — Albert. 2B — KU: Paschal; SM: Walker, Breeze.
SHELDON 8, GRANTS PASS 0 — At Eugene, Sheldon used a three-run home run by Gaje McDaniel during a five-run sixth inning to separate from Grants Pass in its season opener.
Cameron Mathews went 2-for-2 for the Cavemen (0-1).
Sheldon pitcher Brett Nielsen tossed a three-hit shutout to go with six strikeouts and three walks.
Grants Pass 000 000 0 — 0 3 2
Sheldon 010 115 x — 8 10 1
Ingledue, Polder (4) and Leenknecht; Nielsen and McDaniel. W — Nielsen. L — Ingledue (0-1). 2B — S: McDaniel, Bellamy. HR — S: McDaniel.
PHOENIX 13, ST. MARY'S 8 — Bailey Baker hit a bases-loaded triple to key a five-run sixth inning and lead visiting Phoenix to the nonconference win.
The Pirates (2-0) bolted to a 7-1 advantage but St. Mary's tallied three runs in the fourth and four in the fifth to take an 8-7 lead.
Baker went 2-for-3 with five RBIs and scored twice. Justin McCreadie was 3-for-3 with a pair of doubles, three runs and an RBI.
Phoenix 051 105 1 — 13 10 1
St. Mary's 001 340 0 — 8 12 6
Hutchinson, Reynoso (5) and McCreadie; Isola, Hammond (3), Gomez (7) and Seus. W — Reynoso (1-0). L — Hammond. 2B — P: Pond, McCreadie 2; SM: Hammond. 3B — P: Baker; SM: Hough. HR — SM: Seus.