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Crater, South Medford battle to split

Saturday at Crater High, South Medford and Crater battled to a split with just three runs denting the scoreboard in 22 innings of play.

The Comets (17-5 overall, 8-4 SOC) claimed Game 1, 2-0, behind Janelle Cristofaro's four-hit, nine-strikeout pitching gem. But the freshman-laden Panthers (6-6 SOC) kept their postseason hopes alive with a 1-0, 15-inning victory in Game 2.

"This is an incredible conference," said first-year South head coach Greg Baker. "It's unforgiving."

Cristofaro and Darci Byrne matched up in the opener, and Crater used two sixth-inning runs to prevail.

Brandy Wolter, Crystal Huntley and Angie Wright smacked consecutive singles to generate one run, and Huntley scored the second on a Panther throwing error.

Cristofaro, only a freshman, walked none and improved to 9-0.

"She's such a competitor," said first-year Comets head coach Chris Arnold. "You just feel real confident with her out on the mound."

In Game 2, Jenni Bittle and Byrne waged a classic pitching duel.

Both fired shutouts through 14 innings before Bittle finally blinked in the top of the 15th.

Christin Palazzolo reached on an error and eventually scored after an Alex Jordall single and a Crater throwing error.

Jennifer Mendenhall relieved Byrne to close the door in the bottom of the inning. In all, Byrne, a junior, pitched 20 innings and recorded 17 strikeouts - 13 of which came in Game 2 - while permitting a single earned run.

"Above and beyond the call of duty from a pitcher," Baker said. "Her maturation and composure have come so far in this season."

A season after finishing 1-13 and last in the SOC, South enters the last week of the regular season tied for fourth place with Grants Pass and in playoff contention.

"Today's split with Crater was the type of win we needed for the program," Baker said. "The ladies learned how to win today."

In doubleheaders next Saturday, the Panthers travel to second-place Roseburg (9-3 SOC), while the third-place Comets need one win at first-place North Medford (11-1) to clinch one of the conference's four postseason berths.

FIRST GAME

South Medford ................................ 000 000 0 - 0 4 4Crater ............................................... 000 002 x - 2 5 2

Byrne and Conley; Cristofaro and Thomas. W - Cristofaro (9-0). L - Byrne. 2B - SM: Conley.

SECOND GAME

South Medford ............... 000 000 000 000 001 - — 6 2Crater ............................. 000 000 000 000 000 - 0 8 4

Byrne, Mendenhall (14) and Conley; Bittle and Thomas. W - Byrne. L - Bittle (8-4). Sv - Mendenhall.

Pitchers Keri Sevano (11-1) and Krystal Young (6-3) were nearly untouchable on the mound for the Black Tornado (16-5 overall, 11-1 SOC), with Sevano firing a two-hitter in the opener and Young tossing North's first no-hitter of the season in Game 2.

The Eagles (1-11 SOC) permitted just seven hits to the Tornado in the doubleheader, and Game — starter Jamie Williams gave up only three hits, three walks and no earned runs in a complete-game effort.

Brittany Hilyer's single was misplayed by Eagle Point in the third inning of the opener, allowing Darcy Cordell to score the lone run.

North generated three runs in the third and another in the fourth to provide Young, who struck out five and walked one, more than enough support in Game 2.

The Tornado can do no worse than a tie for the conference championship with one doubleheader remaining on the schedule.

FIRST GAME

Eagle Point ....................................... 000 000 0 - 0 2 2North Medford ................................. 001 000 x - — 3 1

Williams and A. Mapes; Sevano and Hilyer. W - Sevano (11-1). L - Williams. 2B - EP: A. Mapes.

SECOND GAME

Eagle Point ....................................... 000 000 0 - 0 0 2North Medford ................................. 003 100 x - 4 4 1

Jeeninga, Heider (6) and A. Mapes; Young and Hillyer. W - Young (6-3). L - Jeeninga.

Brooke Charles picked up the pitching win in the opener - her eighth on the season - giving up five hits and striking out seven.

Amy Durbin led the Cavers with two hits.

In the nightcap, Laura Mitchell singled in the third inning and came around to score when her hit got past the centerfielder.

Justine Berda and Claire Highfield each had two hits for Grants Pass, which outhit the Indians 12-5 over both games.

FIRST GAME

Grants Pass.......................................000 000 0 - 0 5 2Roseburg...........................................020 000 x - 2 2 0

Morton and Richard; Charles and Schruth. W - Charles (8-2). L - Morton.

SECOND GAME

Grants Pass.......................................000 000 0 - 0 7 2Roseburg...........................................001 000 x - — 3 0

Gallego and Richard; Jones and Schruth. W - Jones (7-2). L - Gallego.

Baseball

Russ Vandell had a scintillating day at the plate for North, going 5-for-7 with a seventh-inning, two-run homer off the foul pole in Game — that proved to be the game-winner.

Eagle Point rallied with four runs in the bottom of the seventh off back-to-back, two-run doubles by Ricky O'Callahan and Kevin Gray. With one out and the tying run at the plate, McArthur came on in relief to notch two straight strikeouts.

North (19-3, 9-3 SOC) packed a punch in Game 2 with homers by Tyler Engle and McArthur as the Tornado breezed past the Eagles (1-11 SOC).

Brett Timmerman went 3-for-4 in the opener and McArthur 3-for-4 in the nightcap for North, while O'Callahan had two hits for Eagle Point in Game — and Ryan Augino went 2-for-3 in Game 2.

FIRST GAME

North Medford................................200 300 2 - 7 11 1Eagle Point........................................000 010 4 - 5 7 1

Kircher, McArthur (7) and Folsom; Depuy, Sands (2) and O'Callahan. W - Kircher (6-2). L - Sands (0-1). 2B - NM: Folsom, Butler, Timmerman; EP: O'Callahan, Gray. HR - NM: Vandell (1).

SECOND GAME

North Medford..............................014 020 — - 10 10 0Eagle Point........................................010 000 0 - — 6 3

McArthur and Folsom; Dunbar, Snow (3), Cruz (5) and O'Callahan. W - McArthur (7-1). L - Dunbar (0-1). 2B - NM: McArthur; EP: Ringrose. HR - NM: Engle (1), McArthur (3).