Grants Pass doesn't need to win the Area 4 title to earn a spot in the American Legion AAA state tournament, but that doesn't mean the Nuggets are interested in taking it easy during the regular season.

Grants Pass doesn't need to win the Area 4 title to earn a spot in the American Legion AAA state tournament, but that doesn't mean the Nuggets are interested in taking it easy during the regular season.

As tournament hosts, Grants Pass has an automatic berth in the state tourney but the vaunted prize of a potential third straight Area 4 title is too much to look past these days.

The Nuggets took a big step toward that goal on Wednesday, using a strong pitching outing by Nolan Bastendorff to secure a 5-2 victory in the opening game of a doubleheader at Harry & David Field.

Medford could have used more but it still was able to salvage a split with a 3-2 win in the nightcap after Colton Westfall fanned eight in a complete-game effort and Bryce Rogan came through with a go-ahead double in the fifth inning.

"That was important to get a win against those guys just for our own morale, per se," said Mustangs manager Nate Mayben. "That's one of the best teams in the state that we'll see, so to be able to get a win against a team like that is good."

Winning the first game of the twin bill assured a tiebreaker advantage for Grants Pass over Medford should that come into play as the Area 4 season winds down. The Nuggets (21-6, 6-2 Area 4) earned a pair of one-run victories over the Mustangs (17-11, 6-4) on July 1 to put themselves in prime position entering Wednesday's games.

"It was a huge sweep for us last week at home," said Bastendorff, who recently graduated from Crater High. "It was still two good games against them over there, and being able to get that first one tonight was nice."

In the opener, the 6-foot-6 Bastendorff scattered six hits with three walks and three strikeouts to subdue the Mustangs. The lanky right-hander needed only 28 pitches to get through the first three scoreless innings and was in a groove until Medford finally scratched for a run in the fifth.

"The first couple innings I just breezed right through them because they chased the changeup or they were swinging on the first-pitch fastball," said Bastendorff, "I loved it."

"I was hitting spots and it was good," he added, "but they were swinging at it, too. They weren't sitting back or taking, they were aggressive today. I like throwing to aggressive guys because then they might chase something rather than guys that will sit back and run the count full."

The Nuggets staked Bastendorff to a 2-0 lead through four innings but the damage easily could've been more had Medford not been stellar on defense. With second baseman Taylor Raff leading the way, the Mustangs turned double plays in each of the first four innings — twice with the bases loaded.

"They were just in the right spot at the right time and kept turning double plays on us," said Bastendorff, who has signed to play for Crater alum Ryan Gipson in the return of baseball at Linn-Benton Community College. "It was unbelievable."

Grants Pass scored its two runs in the third inning against starter Caleb Newman on an RBI double by Marco Garmendia and a bases-loaded walk drawn by Anthony Martin. Isaiah Luzny then came in to pitch in relief and induced a double play ball to limit the damage.

The Mustangs were able to cut their deficit in half after Eric Carlson beat out an infield single and scored soon after on an RBI triple down the right field line by Micah Brown — his second of three hits in the contest.

"He just did a good piece of hitting all three times," said Bastendorff of Wednesday's main nemesis. "He'd sit back on the changeup and hit it, he'd sit back on the fastball and hit it down the line. He's just a patient, balanced hitter and he made me pay."

The Nuggets used a solo home run in the sixth inning by Easton Bents to get that run back, but Medford returned to threaten in the bottom of the inning with a one-out single by Austin Zavala, who scored to make it 3-2 on an RBI single by Brown.

Grants Pass, however, was able to nail down the victory in the top of the seventh after Josh Cowell drew a one-out walk, Garmendia followed with an RBI triple and Taylor Tibbets added an RBI double for his second hit of the game.

The Nuggets put themselves in prime position for a season sweep of the Mustangs by scoring a pair of runs in the second inning against Westfall. Martin was hit by a pitch and Kevin Olmstead singled with one out before Tanner Ryerson walked to load the bases. Joe Caballero then slapped an RBI single that second baseman Raff could only knock down as it tried to enter center field, and Olmstead later scored on a wild pitch.

Medford finally broke through against Nuggets starter Ty Fox in the bottom of the fourth, sparked by a leadoff double from Rogan. Carlson followed with an infield single and then Brown, again, came through with an RBI single through the left side of the infield.

"That was good to see," Mayben said of Brown's 5-for-6 night. "Micah's been struggling a little bit and we've been making some adjustments. We haven't had him in the lineup a little bit lately just so he can make those adjustments, but it looks like he's made them. He needs to be a guy in that lineup for us that gets the job done and he did a heckuva job today."

After Cody Coggins walked to load the bases, David Crofton grounded into a double play but Carlson was still able to score to tie it at 2-all.

In the bottom of the fifth, Fox got two quick outs before Zavala ripped a shot down the left field line for a double. Rogan, the cleanup hitter, then tore into a pitch for an RBI double off the right field fence for Medford's first lead over Grants Pass this season.

"To have them spark us, that's exactly what we need from the 3-4 spots," Mayben said of Zavala and Rogan, who entered Wednesday as the team's hitting leaders at .353 and .363, respectively. "(Rogan) had been struggling at the plate and he finally put a good swing on the baseball and drove it. That gave us the spark and the hope that we needed."

The Nuggets put a scare into Medford's lead in the top of the seventh when Ryerson sent a one-out double over Rogan's head in left field, but Westfall reared back and struck out Caballero and Paul Turner to end the game.

Westfall allowed six hits with eight strikeouts, one walk and one hit batter, while Fox allowed eight hits with two strikeouts and three walks.

Caballero was 4-for-6 with one run and one RBI for GP in the doubleheader.


Grants Pass Nuggets 002 001 2 — 5 10 1

Medford Mustangs 000 011 0 — 2 6 1

Bastendorff and Caballero; Newman, Luzny (3) and Zavala. W — Bastendorff (4-0). L — Newman (3-2). 2B — GP: Tibbets 2, Garmendia. 3B — GP: Garmendia; M: Brown.


Grants Pass Nuggets 020 000 0 — 2 6 0

Medford Mustangs 000 210 x — 3 8 0

Fox and Caballero; Westfall and Zavala. W — Westfall (3-2). L — Fox. 2B — GP: Ryerson; M: Rogan 2, Zavala.

Reach reporter Kris Henry at 541-776-4488,, or