GRANTS PASS — Their year of baseball began under the leaden skies of March, and it will end wrapped in August's searing embrace.

GRANTS PASS — Their year of baseball began under the leaden skies of March, and it will end wrapped in August's searing embrace.

For many members of the Medford Mustangs, the spring season extended all the way to July with state championships. Weeks later, they returned to the diamond and committed their summer to American Legion.

There were late dinners and cancelled vacations along the way, the aftermath of a 40-game regular-season schedule.

But a funny thing happens when a close group takes on the same arduous journey, Mustangs second baseman Taylor Raff said.

"You come together as a family," Raff said. "And we really have."

Their unity showed on Thursday.

Medford (29-13) continued its hot play by pounding the Portland Eastside Barbers, 10-1, during the second day of the AAA state tournament at Agnew-Lytle Field. The Mustangs, who have won 10 straight and 13 of their last 15, are three victories away from a state title and regional berth. They'll play Corvallis — which beat Eugene, 7-6, Thursday night — at 7 tonight. Medford is 3-0 against Corvallis this year.

The path here wasn't easy.

"It was a little bit of a grind," explained Raff, who hit a triple and double. "The beginning part was kind of a struggle, but now we have pushed through it and really come together. I don't know what changed. The intensity picked up, and that was a really big thing. The offense finally came around and the pitching was great all year."

The Mustangs did a number on Portland, which entered with a 40-5 record. Medford cranked out 13 hits and used a five-run third inning to take over.

"The hitting is really coming through right now," said catcher Austin Zavala, who finished 3-for-3 with an RBI and two runs scored. "Our pitching has been phenomenal, but in the tournament so far, we've been hitting everywhere."

David Crofton went 2-for-3 with two RBIs and a run and Josh Berman 2-for-5 with two RBIs and two runs for the Mustangs.

Crofton got the ball rolling with a run-scoring double in the bottom of the second inning.

The Barbers looked to threaten in the third when Jay Rogers evened the score at 1 after a bases-loaded walk. Medford then made a pitching change, sending in Cody Coggins to replace starter Caleb Newman with two outs.

Keeping cool in the dangerous situation, the Cascade Christian standout struck out Joel Enterline.

"That was huge," Mustangs head coach Nate Mayben said. "They left nine guys on base so that obviously helped us out a lot. But getting out of that, bases loaded and two outs, that was huge. It got the momentum on our side."

Riding the wave, Medford posted five runs in the bottom of the inning. Raff began with a triple before Zavala pounded an RBI single, Bryce Rogan singled, Micah Brown was hit by a pitch and then, with the bases loaded, Crofton bashed a sacrifice fly. An ensuing RBI single, wild pitch and dropped third strike made it 6-1.

"Getting the lead early in the game is pretty much the biggest thing in baseball," Zavala said.

Things didn't get much better for Portland, which went through four different pitchers. Medford tacked on three more in the seventh while flirting with the 10-run mercy rule.

Coggins improved to 3-1 after allowing no runs, two hits and one walk and striking out four in 41/3 innings.

After the triumph, Mayben concluded his talk with the team by simply saying, "Let's keep this thing rolling."

"We are playing loose and we're having fun playing the game," Mayben said. "And you've got to do that in these situations because you can get tight. They are big games and we are just doing a good job of approaching it the right way."

The Mustangs couldn't have picked a better time to feel this way.

"Everyone is really excited right now," Zavala said. "It's kind of like how North (Medford) was in the playoffs. Everyone just has a lot of energy. After every hit we are all up and cheering. It's fun to be a part of. I think everyone just realizes we are actually a pretty good team and we've beaten most of these teams here, so why not think we can go to regionals and go farther than that?"

Portland 001 000 000 — 1 8 0

Medford 015 100 30x — 10 13 0

Lave, Evans (3) Scanlon (5), Ching (8) and Hutson, Johnson (8); Newman, Coggins (3), Glick (8) and Zavala. W — Coggins (3-1). L — Lave. 2B — M: Gillis, Raff, Crofton, Evans. 3B — M: Raff.

SALEM 11, GRANTS PASS 0 — At Grants Pass, Grants Pass completed its self-imposed demise on Thursday with its most abysmal showing of the season.

After failing to protect their home field in Wednesday's American Legion Triple-A state tournament opener, the deflated Nuggets endured a seven-inning, mercy-rule shortened loss in an elimination game at Agnew-Lytle Field.

The big blows were RBI singles from Jack Gries and Jackson Smith, while Conner Kahle roped a two-run double.

There was hope for a spark for the Nuggets when they loaded the bases with nobody out, but the opportunity was squandered with a ground out and pair of strikeouts from Dodgers' starter Andy Bevens.

Reach reporter Dan Jones at 541-776-4499, or email Find him online at