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...
Crater pitchers Nolan Bastendorff and Dylan Pearce combined to limit North Medford to seven hits in the twin bill and the Comets used some timely, opportunistic offense to earn a Southern Oregon Hybrid baseball sweep on Saturday.
Bastendorff struck out seven, walked two and allowed four hits in a complete-game effort to help Crater to a 6-1 victory in the opener at North Medford High. In the nightcap, Pearce held the Black Tornado to three hits with a career-high 11 strikeouts and two walks for a 4-3 triumph.
In last weekend's sweep of South Medford, North Medford blasted 22 hits in 11 innings and nine of those went for extra bases.
"Both those kids did a great job of being able to locate today and mix pitches," said Crater head coach Jay Campbell. "That's the name of the game. They both were effective early in the count and gave us some opportunities to call some different pitches in different situations and that was huge, obviously."
"I felt like we were able to keep them on their heels a little bit today," added Campbell, "and it was all by the ability of our kids to get ahead and throw breaking balls and offspeed pitches for strikes. Anytime you can mix it up like that and add in location, you have a good chance to win."
Saturday's sweep snapped a four-game winning streak by second-ranked North Medford (13-4, 4-2 SOH) that included a 7-3 win over Crater on Tuesday to open this week's three-game series.The Comets, who played nonleague teams Ashland and Eagle Point last week, improved to 11-6 and 2-1 after turning things around from a shaky performance earlier this week.
"After Tuesday we were not happy with our approach and we knew that we had three days to get a lot better and that was the whole thing for us," said Campbell. "We knew we had the ability to go over there (to North Medford) and get two wins but we had to play well in all three aspects of the game because North's a very good ballclub."
Crater struck first in the opener with a pair of runs in its first at-bat. Tyler Aplin smacked a leadoff double and after Evan Erskine was hit by a pitch, both baserunners advanced on a balk by starting pitcher Micah Brown. Anthony Martin followed with an RBI groundout and Ty Fox plated a second run with a sacrifice fly.
North Medford senior leader Taylor Raff answered with a leadoff home run in the bottom of the first against Bastendorff but scoring chances were few and far between after that as the junior right-hander buckled down.
After the Comets tacked on a pair of runs in the fourth to go up 4-1, Bastendorff got out of a jam in the bottom of the frame with runners at second and third when he induced a pop-up by Jared Evans and then struck out Josh Berman.
Crater broke the game open in the fifth with a two-run single by senior Taylor Pardee.
"We were able to get timely hits and solid defense and good pitching and those three things are what we focus on for every game," said Campbell.
Aplin finished 2-for-2 in the opener for Crater and reached base all four times, while David Crofton was 2-for-2 for North Medford.
The Black Tornado built a 3-1 lead in the bottom of the fifth in Game 2 after Troy Fowler reached on a throwing error by Fox, Raff was walked and Austin Zavala belted a two-run double off Pearce.
The Comets immediately answered with three runs to regain the advantage in the sixth, with a throwing error by Berman allowing Aplin to reach safely before an RBI double by Martin. North Medford then brought in Colton Westfall to relieve Crofton on the mound but a throwing error by Brown on a grounder by Fox allowed Martin to tie the game at 3-all.
Blake Fahndrich followed with a fielder's choice to Raff at shortstop but the relay throw to first on the double-play attempt by Brown missed its mark and allowed Fahndrich to advance to second. Taylor Tibbets then followed with a single to center field for the go-ahead run.
The sophomore Pearce made all that hold up as he retired the last seven hitters in a row, five by strikeout.
Crater 200 220 0 — 6 6 0
North Medford 100 000 0 — 1 4 3
Bastendorff and Aplin; Brown, B. Pearson (5) and Zavala. W — Bastendorff (3-1). L — Brown (2-1). 2B — C: Fox, Aplin. HR — NM: Raff (1).
Crater 010 003 0 — 4 3 1
North Medford 010 020 0 — 3 3 4
Pearce and Aplin; Crofton, Westfall (6), Gillis (7) and Zavala. W — Pearce (3-0). L — Westfall (6-1). 2B — C: Martin, Fox; NM: Zavala.
Reach reporter Kris Henry at 541-776-4488, email@example.com, www.facebook.com/krishenryMT or www.twitter.com/Kris_Henry