Athletic directors at the Class 5A level have proven to be the most invested in controlling their own playoff destiny since a switch to the...
Nearly half of North Medford's hits went for extra bases as the Black Tornado baseball team pulled off a sweep of South Medford in a Southern Oregon Hybrid twin bill on Saturday.
Fourth-ranked North Medford had seven of its 14 hits go for extra bases in an 8-3 victory in Game 1, then tacked on two more — including a grand slam by Josh Berman — en route to an 11-1, five-inning victory in Game 2.
No one was on top of the ball more than North Medford senior Hayden Evans, who lined out to center field in his first at-bat but didn't make an out for the rest of the doubleheader in finishing 5-for-6 with three runs and two RBIs.
The 6-foot-2 Evans smacked three doubles in the opener and likely would've had another in his last at-bat of the nightcap had it not gone as a walk-off single with the bases loaded in the bottom of the fifth.
"Everything today looked pretty fat," said Evans, who raised his batting average to .419. "In the pregame I felt pretty confident and I was just taking good swings. I'm just seeing it well for this time of the year."
The hardest hit ball by Evans likely came in his first at-bat with runners on the corners when he hit a laser to center fielder Jimmy Sporer that didn't get more than 9 feet off the ground and was in Sporer's mitt within a blink of an eye.
"What Hayden's been doing is working really hard in practice and I'm proud of him," said North Medford head coach Brett Wolfe. "He's a senior and he's a leader, and he can hit with power."
That ability certainly spread throughout the Tornado's lineup on Saturday, with junior catcher Austin Zavala sporting a triple and double in a 3-for-6 showing that included two runs and two RBIs and No. 7 hitter Berman going yard for the second time this year.
All helped keep the pressure off pitchers Micah Brown and David Crofton, who each went the distance to help North Medford (12-2, 3-0 SOH) secure a three-game series sweep of the No. 9 Panthers (8-5, 0-3) for the fifth time in the past seven years.
South Medford swept the Black Tornado last season and had won four of the last five meetings after snapping a run of 14 straight by North Medford from 2007-11.
"This was big for us," said Evans. "Last year kinda lit a fire under us and we needed this one bad, so it was a good win."
North Medford senior Taylor Raff combined to go 3-for-5 with four runs and one RBI, Brown had a two-run single in Game 2, Crofton scored one and plated one in each game and Berman finished 3-for-4 with three runs and four RBIs.
South Medford scored first in both games, using a bases-loaded walk to Brady Breeze in Game 1 and a single by Joe Cooney that scored Brandon Lupton in Game 2 to provide a lift, but runs were few and far between after that.
Panthers senior Pat Alexander slapped a two-run single to center field in the fifth inning of the opener but bad luck came calling on South moments later after junior Nate Walker singled for the third time off Brown but was hurt after a back pick attempt by Zavala.
Walker jabbed his right foot toward the bag at first base and the awkward attempt left him writhing in pain with an apparent Achilles' heel injury. He was unable to put any weight on the leg following the mishap.
"He's hurting pretty good and I sure hope it works out for him," said South Medford head coach Ray Smith, whose team was already minus starting catcher Austin White and played Game 2 without Sporer due to a pulled hamstring.
South Medford 010 020 0 — 3 9 2
North Medford 023 210 x — 8 14 1
Newman, Carle (4) and J. Cooney; Brown and Zavala. W — Brown (2-0). L — Newman (4-1). 2B — SM: Wallan, Breeze; NM: H. Evans 3, Gillis, J. Evans, Crofton. 3B — NM: Zavala.
South Medford 100 00 — 1 5 0
North Medford 006 41 — 11 8 1
Lupton, Carle (4) and Burton, W. Cooney (5); Crofton and Zavala. W — Crofton (2-2). L — Lupton (2-1). 2B — NM: Zavala. HR — NM: Berman (2).
Reach reporter Kris Henry at 541-776-4488, email@example.com, www.facebook.com/krishenryMT or www.twitter.com/Kris_Henry