Grants Pass caught Medford napping in the early going Tuesday night, but the Mustangs returned to form with a vengeance to salvage a doubleheader split with the last-place Nuggets in American Legion AAA play.

Grants Pass caught Medford napping in the early going Tuesday night, but the Mustangs returned to form with a vengeance to salvage a doubleheader split with the last-place Nuggets in American Legion AAA play.

After Crater High graduate Craig Kathol kept the Mustangs off balance to earn a 4-3 win for the Nuggets in the opener, Medford turned up the heat in the nightcap with 15 hits in a 20-0, five-inning rout at Harry & David Field.

Second baseman Dan Katayama was 6-for-8 with four RBIs in the twin bill to pace the Mustangs (34-8, 13-3 Area 4), who wrapped up the league title with last Friday's sweep of Roseburg.

Grants Pass wrapped up its season 9-22 overall and 2-14 in Area 4 play.

"The first game we played just for play and the second game we came back and really played hard, with focus," said Katayama, an exchange student from Brazil. "We did our job and played our game the second game. The first game we played their game."

Kathol only had three strikeouts and allowed eight hits in the opener, but routinely found a way to get out of just about any jam that came his way to pace Grants Pass. His lone rough patch came in the sixth inning, when Medford tallied all three of its runs.

Cody James reached safely on his second hit of the game on a chopper to shortstop Dylan Armanino and advanced on a check-swing single to left field by Matt Maurer. After a fielder's choice grounder by Garrett Tygerson, Lucas Stone dropped a two-run double down the left field line.

Kathol responded with a strikeout of Bradey Shipley, but erred seconds later when he scooped up Nick Hall's bunt attempt and sailed the two-out throw out of the reach of first baseman Taylor Bars. With his lead down to 4-3, Kathol got out of further damage when Colin Sowers flied out to right field.

James drew a two-out walk in the seventh to give Medford some hope of a comeback, but Maurer followed with a fielder's choice groundout to cap a lethargic effort by the host team.

Katayama said Mustangs manager Sandee Kensinger only had one comment for his team between games: Figure it out.

With Shipley cruising on the mound in Game 2, Medford gave him plenty of support. The Mustangs scored four runs in the first, three more in the second and a whopping 13 in the fourth to put the game well out of reach.

"When the team is playing together like that, we always play good," said Katayama. "When we're playing our game, it's a Mustang game and all about family and having fun."

James plated Sowers with the game's first run and Tygerson followed with an RBI double. With the bases loaded, Kameron Kaufman laced a two-run single past Bars at first base for a 4-0 lead.

Seth Brown and Maurer each had RBI efforts in the second, and a fielding error by third baseman Casey Miller allowed another run to score.

The Nuggets were forced to use three pitchers in the 13-run fourth inning that included only seven Medford hits and a combined eight walks by the trio of Mike Suthann, Micah Schmidt and Ray Madrigal. Madrigal actually started the game but was replaced by Suthann in the second before returning in the fourth.

Suthann walked the bases loaded with one out, then walked Sowers to plate a run and end his time on the mound. Katayama greeted Schmidt with a two-run single, and Brown followed with a sacrifice fly RBI. Isaac Rolie walked in his return to the Mustangs after a 28-game absence due to an ankle injury and Maurer singled to load the bases again. After an RBI single by Tygerson, Stone upped his hitting streak to 12 games with a three-run double to the left field corner.

A single by Kaufman and a walk to Bohn loaded the bases once more, and Sowers and Katayama followed with consecutive two-run doubles to put Medford up 20-0.

The run production was more than enough for Shipley, who struck out seven in his five innings and only allowed a fourth-inning single by Armanino and a fifth-inning single by Suthann.

Medford already owns an automatic berth in the state tournament, which begins next Wednesday at Kiger Stadium in Klamath Falls. The Mustangs will be seeking their 12th state championship.

Roseburg (22-10, 9-7) and Eugene (31-15, 9-7) will play in the best-of-three super regionals this week to earn a spot in the state tournament. As the tourney host, Klamath Falls (26-18, 6-8) is already assured a spot in the tourney but will also be playing in the super regionals, which begin Friday.

FIRST GAME

Grants Pass Nuggets 300 100 0 — 4 5 2

Medford Mustangs 000 003 0 — 3 8 2

Kathol and Schmidt; Bradshaw, Tygerson (4) and Sowers. W — Kathol. L — Bradshaw (3-1). 2B — GP: Suthann; M: Stone. 3B — M: Katayama.

SECOND GAME

Grants Pass Nuggets 000 00 — 0 2 3

Medford Mustangs 430 (13)x — 20 15 0

Madrigal, Suthann (2), Schmidt (4), Madrigal (4) and McCready; Shipley and Kaufman. W — Shipley (4-1). L — Madrigal. 2B — M: Tygerson, Stone, Sowers, Katayama.

Reach reporter Kris Henry at 541-776-4488, or e-mail khenry@mailtribune.com