South Medford’s baseball team has put a slow start to the Southwest Conference season behind it.
The Panthers ran their league winning streak to four games and notched their first doubleheader sweep in five years of crosstown rival North Medford Saturday, winning 3-1 and 4-1 at Harry & David Field.
South Medford (8-5 overall) improved to 4-3 in league and climbed into a tie for second place with South Eugene, one-half game behind Sheldon.
North Medford (8-7, 4-4) is another half-game back in the tight standings.
The Panthers rode four-hit pitching in each end of the doubleheader. Junior Jack Thompson set the tone in the first game, then senior Ethan Whitney followed.
“Certainly, they carried us through,” said South coach Ray Smith. “Both those guys were pretty much in control. They worked out of some tough spots to keep us in the game. Sometimes it could have gone the other way, but they always found a way to get that out or make that pitch and do the little things they needed to. I’m pretty happy with that.”
In the opener, Thompson struck out three and walked three. He got all the runs he’d need in the first inning, when the Panthers scored twice.
Jacob Melton walked and went to second on an errant pick-off attempt. A sacrifice bunt put Melton at third base, and he scored when Jaalen Owens hit a dribbler to pitcher Tyler Seney, whose throw pulled the first baseman off the bag.
Thompson singled to leave runners at second and first. Whitney’s grounder to third was snagged by Ryan Sandoval, but his throwing error allowed Owens in to make it 2-0.
South’s other run came in the sixth, when Owens tripled in Clint Campbell, who had singled.
Jonathan Gassman had an RBI single in the fifth for North, which committed five errors.
Jaron Emerson was 2-for-2 for the Panthers, and Justin Geyer was 2-for-3 with a run for the Black Tornado.
In the second game, Whitney provided another strong pitching performance, striking out six and walking four.
Owens had two doubles, including an RBI rap in the first inning and a two-out hit in the fourth that led to South’s final run. He scored on a Whitney single.
The Panthers added two runs in the second when Clint Campbell was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded, and Owens hit a fielder’s choice to bring in a run.
Owens was 2-for-4, while Quentin Rumrey was 2-for-4 with a run for the Tornado.
“The kids are starting to turn the tables,” said Smith. “They’re starting to feel a little more confident and understand what it takes to win tough games. Today wasn’t easy. We had to make some plays and work out of some tough situations.”
Seney and Geyer; Thompson and Carle. W — Thompson (3-1). L — Seney (1-2). 3B — SM: J. Owens.
Baptiste and Geyer; Whitney and Thompson. W — Whitney (3-3). L — Baptiste. 2B — SM: J. Owens 2, Parnell. 3B — NM: Rumrey.