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North Medford climbs into first with SOC sweep

EAGLE POINT -- North Medford High pitcher Jarred Pagnini was there when the Black Tornado needed him most on Saturday.

Twice.

Pagnini played pivotal roles in both games of a crucial Southern Oregon Conference baseball doubleheader sweep over Eagle Point.

The wins gave the fourth-ranked Black Tornado (21-2, 11-1 SOC) sole possession of the conference lead.

Pagnini, a junior right-hander, picked up his seventh win against no losses in the first game and a save in the second as North Medford won 4-1 and 3-1 at The Yard.

Pagnini allowed seven hits and struck out 12 in the opener. North Medford rallied for three runs in the top of the eighth to win.

In the second game, Pagnini entered the game in relief of starter Nate Mayben with the bases loaded and one out in the seventh inning. He inherited a 2-and-0 count to Eagles' power hitter Jake Kleker.

Pagnini promptly struck out Kleker and Matt Holte to preserve the second-game win.

North Medford can clinch its second straight SOC title with a sweep over Crater next Saturday at Anhorn Field.

I felt great coming in, said Pagnini of his second-game appearance. My arm didn't feel sore, and I came in and threw all fastballs.

I had pretty good velocity going, and I didn't want to go with the curveball. It wasn't working as well today.

Pagnini's fastball, sailing toward home plate between 80 and 85 miles per hour, appeared untouchable.

I think Nate (Mayben) pitched very well, but he started guiding the ball a little in the seventh, said North Medford coach Brett Wolfe. I felt our best chance at that point was to go to Jarred. But Nate pitched pretty well overall.

North scored single runs in the first, third and seventh innings of the second game. Mayben doubled and scored on a single by Jason Brownell.

In the third inning, Colby Gonzales pulled a home run to right field for a 2-0 North lead.

North Medford's final run came in the seventh when Pagnini doubled and scored on a single by Phillip De La Cruz.

Eagle Point scored its run in the fifth on a single by Nick Newmann and a single by Jason Wisenhunt.

The Eagles appeared ready to finally break through against Mayben in the bottom of the seventh when Mike Newmann walked and Nick Newmann singled. Wisenhunt then singled to load the bases.

Mayben then threw two straight balls to Kleker, sending Wolfe to the mound to change pitchers. Enter Pagnini.

I had a lot of pop with my fastball and curveball, but I started squeezing it too hard in the seventh inning, said Mayben. I think I was trying a little too hard.

In the opening game, Jim Pickrel of North Medford had three hits in three at-bats and drove in two runs. He had a two-run double in the top of the eighth inning following Mayben's double off the right-center field wall earlier in the inning.

I felt pretty good at the plate, said Pickrel. I hit a curveball (for the double). I knew the pitcher (Nick Newmann) had pretty good control and a good curveball. I was ready to hit.

Brownell and De La Cruz both had two hits in the second game for North Medford.

I'm pleased with the way our kids battled to win two games, said Wolfe. You have to win close games like we did today if you are going to be in it.

We've been scoring a lot of runs lately, and we haven't had a lot of close games. This was a good experience for us.

Kleker and Wisenhunt both had two hits for Eagle Point in the first game.

Eagle Point coach Tom Britton was frustrated because off missed scoring opportunities and runners left on base.

I really thought we were going to break through in the seventh innings of both games, he said.

In the seventh inning of the first game, the Eagles had B.J. McFall on first base because of an error by Mayben at shortstop. Sean Cardoza tried to drop down a bunt, but North's alert infield turned it into a 4-6-3 double play.

That turned the game, said Britton. It was the biggest single play. It took our momentum away.

FIRST GAME

North Medford .........001 000 03 -- 4 7 2 Eagle Point .............001 000 00 -- — 7 0

Pagnini and Brownell. N. Newmann and Cardoza. W -- Pagnini (7-0). L -- N. Newmann. 2B -- NM: Mayben, Gonzales, Pickrel, Halpin. EP: Newmann, Wisenhunt.

SECOND GAME

North Medford .........101 000 — -- — 7 0 Eagle Point ..............000 010 0 -- — 5 2

Mayben, Pagnini (7) and Brownell. M. Newmann and Cardoza. W -- Mayben (5-1). L -- M. Newmann. 2B -- NM: Mayben, Brownell, Pagnini. HR -- NM: Gonzales.