North Medford sophomore Matt Maurer enjoyed his time on the mound last year, but he entered this season energized by the prospect of being able to step back into the batter's box after a one-year hiatus.

North Medford sophomore Matt Maurer enjoyed his time on the mound last year, but he entered this season energized by the prospect of being able to step back into the batter's box after a one-year hiatus.

If South Medford baseball fans had their druthers on Saturday, the left-hander wouldn't have been in either spot at Harry & David Field.

Maurer struck out 11 and allowed only two hits in a 6-0 victory to open Saturday's doubleheader.

He then stepped to the plate in the nightcap and slapped three doubles to help the top-ranked Black Tornado to a season sweep of the Panthers with a 12-4 triumph.

Overall, Maurer went 4-for-7 — all doubles — with one RBI and five runs scored (combined between him and courtesy runner Sharif Young).

"Taking the ball opposite field has been my work this year because I've always tried to pull it," said Maurer, who credited work with North assistant coach Paul White and head coach Brett Wolfe for his success at the plate. "Just finding a pitch to hit and going opposite field was the biggest part of everything today."

In comparison, South Medford managed only two extra-base efforts and eight hits overall.

North Medford improved to 20-0 overall and 9-0 in SWC play, while South Medford dropped to 9-11 and 1-8 with its eighth straight loss.

"We've kinda hit a crossroads," said South Medford coach Tom Britton. "There's some issues that we need to address, but the thing that's really hurting us is we're not producing. A lot of it is because we're banged up, and a lot of it is we've got some kids that just haven't stepped up and gotten the job done."

Such a dilemma wasn't a problem for North, with seven different players driving in at least one run in the nightcap and at least six players getting a hit in each game.

The Black Tornado blew Game 1 wide open with five runs in the sixth inning.

Kody Stevens got things going with a double and Blake Mitchell followed a Colin Sowers walk with an RBI double. Maurer was then intentionally walked to load the bases, but pinch-hitter Steve Cole's sacrifice fly made it 3-0.

Zack Earle then reached safely on an error by shortstop John Adamson as another run scored for North, and Hayden Wolfe hit an RBI single to center field that was misplayed by Brandon Dollarhide to allow another run and give North a 6-0 advantage.

The sixth-inning surge put a damper on the pitching performance of South's Mitchell Britton, who had done well to slow the Tornado to that point.

"That's kinda been our nemesis this year," said coach Britton. "In tight ballgames, we just can't seem to hold it together."

And to hear Maurer tell it, that's all he was trying to do on the mound in Game 1: hold it together for his teammates.

"Mitchell threw very well and kept us off balance," said Maurer. "My goal was just to keep us close because I figured our bats will awaken sometime."

Only Steven Lines and Adamson were able to get a hit off Maurer on Saturday, with the latter's single in the fourth giving South its only legitimate scoring opportunity. Griff Boyd followed with a walk, and both runners were sacrificed into scoring position by Brett Reordan. South couldn't capitalize from there, however, as Maurer struck out Isaac Rolie and was supported by a brilliant defensive play at second base by Andrew Jones to rob Mike Williamson.

"That's where you've gotta get something, but give Maurer credit and give North credit," said coach Britton. "They handled themselves very well in pressure situations. They're just a tough team to beat because they're strong in all areas."

That strength showed in Game 2 as North pounded out 13 hits and took advantage of the Panthers' depleted pitching corps. Boyd got the start but was ineffective thanks to a virus running through the team that also claimed the services of Josh Camp and Mark Smith.

Rolie, brought up from the JV squad on Saturday, was thrown back into the mix in Game 2 after mopping up in the opener, and Mitchell Britton was asked to return to the mound before finally giving way to Adamson to finish things off.

No matter who pitched, North Medford teed off. Earle was 3-for-4 with three runs and one RBI, while Hayden Wolfe had two RBIs and Mitchell was 2-for-5 with two RBIs.

Adamson had two hits of his own in Game 2, but the true bright spot for the Panthers was D.J. Titus. The senior blasted a three-run home run in the bottom of the fifth to keep North from ending the game by virtue of the 10-run mercy rule — the first HR allowed by Jones all season — and added a leadoff triple in the seventh and scored on a fly ball by Lines.

FIRST GAME

North Medford 001 005 0 — 6 7 0

South Medford 000 000 0 — 0 2 2

Maurer and Sowers; Britton, Rolie (6) and Williamson. W — Maurer (6-0). L — Britton. 2B — NM: Maurer, Stevens, Mitchell.

SECOND GAME

North Medford 112 062 0 — 12 13 2

South Medford 000 030 1 — 4 6 2

Jones and Sowers; Boyd, Rolie (3), Britton (5), Adamson (6) and Williamson. W — Jones (7-0). L — Boyd. 2B — NM: Maurer 3, Stevens, Sowers. 3B — NM: Earle, Mitchell; SM: Titus. HR — SM: Titus.

Reach reporter Kris Henry at 776-4488, or e-mail khenry@mailtribune.com