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Maddox delivers as South gains split

delivers as South gains split

— Photo by Bob Pennell

Luck aids Panthers

South Medford baseball coach Pete Whisler felt like the unlucky gambler who lost all of his money on the blackjack table only to win it back on one desperate spin of the roulette wheel on his way out the door.

Whisler's Panthers were outplayed most of the way in a Southern Oregon Conference doubleheader against Roseburg Tuesday at Miles Field. The Indians rolled to a 4-1 victory in the SOC opener for both teams and led 4-1 through five innings of the nightcap.

But the Panthers tied the second game in the seventh and then hit the jackpot in the eighth when Jimmie -- who was batting just .095 heading into the twin bill -- smoked a liner to center field that scored winning pitcher Tony Conklin, cementing a 5-4 South Medford victory.

We got lucky -- pure and simple, said Whisler, whose team saw its overall record move to 7-3. When you go through the motions like we did today against a good team like Roseburg, you don't deserve to win. But we'll take the one win and see if can build on it.

After committing seven errors in the first game, South made another error as well as a catcher's interference in the first inning of the second game, enabling the Indians to generate a 4-0 advantage.

But Chuck Shine, who was guilty of the catcher's interference, slammed a solo homer to left field in the third and Conklin singled home Josh Tompkins -- who had doubled -- in the sixth to make it 4-2.

In the bottom of the seventh, sophomore Matt Smith led off with a single and Shine followed with a walk. After David Thrapp sacrificed the runners to second and third, Ryan Heil hit an RBI groundout that scored Smith and made it 4-3.

And then, with Roseburg pitcher John Zumwalt needing just one more out to complete an Indians sweep, Brett Haag hit a ball to the outfield that should have been caught. But Roseburg center fielder Colton Frost got a late jump on the ball and it dropped in for a single, tying the game at 4 and sending it to extra innings.

I thought the game was over right there, Haag admitted afterward. But as I got to first base I looked up and saw the ball drop into shallow center. I was really surprised.

One inning later Conklin doubled off Indians reliever Nick Bowers and followed with his game-winning hit that rolled to the center field fence.

entered the doubleheader with just two hits in 21 at-bats.

I was looking for anything to drive and I got the perfect pitch -- a fastball down the middle, said.

Whisler called aside seconds before he went to the plate and told him, You're going to get the game-winning hit in the gap and end this thing right now. Now go up there and do it.

Said Whisler after the game: Jimmie's had a rough year at the plate but he's way too good of a hitter to be batting under .100. He carried this team toward the end of last season. I had a feeling Jimmie was going to come through in this situation.

Conklin, meanwhile, finished with a six-hitter with five strikeouts and three walks. He dodged a potentially lethal bullet in the fifth inning when he worked himself out a bases-loaded, no-out jam with Roseburg holding a 4-1 lead.

Ole Sheldon, Roseburg's No. — hitter, hit into a 5-2-3 double play and Matt Liston flew out to right field to end the threat.

One more hit in that situation and you're looking at a blowout, Conklin said. I was hoping for the double play and I got it.

Roseburg coach Ron Goodell was understandably unhappy with the split.

We let them off the hook, he said. We let them back in it little by little in that second game and they finally got us.

The split left Roseburg with an overall record to 8-3.

FIRST GAME

Roseburg

.......................202 000 0 -- 4 6 — South Medford

..............100 000 0 -- — 4 7

McInerney and Smith; Empio and Shine. W -- McInerney (1-0). L -- Empio (2-1).

SECOND GAME

Roseburg

.............................400 000 00 -- 4 6 — South Medford

....................001 001 21 -- 5 10 3

Conklin and Shine; Zumwalt, Bowers (8) and Smith. W -- Conklin (2-2). L -- Bowers (1-1). 2B -- SM: Tompkins. JR -- SM: Shine.

South Medford catcher Chuck Shine, left, tags out Roseburg runner Matt Liston - Maddox