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North hustles into second round

Rob Folsom leads the charge as the Tornado blows past Tualatin

It's no mistake that junior catcher Rob Folsom finds himself in the leadoff spot for North Medford's top-ranked baseball team.

In that No. — spot, you want someone who can set the tone for the rest of the lineup, and few players can do that like Folsom.

Be it by power, poise or precision, the three-year starter has done it all in helping get North off on the right foot over the years.

Monday's Class 4A first round state playoff game with Tualatin proved to be no different as Folsom's trademark hustle got the Tornado rolling in a 10-1 triumph at Miles Field.

— If we can come out and outhustle a team, I think that puts some doubt in their mind, said Folsom, who had one of North's five stolen bases. I know that we try to get after it on the basepaths and really put the pressure on them every chance we get.

Folsom laid down a bunt on the first pitch he saw in the bottom of the first to extend his hitting streak to 37 games, dating back to last season. Two pitches later he took off for second and found himself on third as the throw by Tualatin catcher Jason Cohoon sailed into center field.

A great scoring opportunity appeared to be vanishing after two quick outs, but Folsom didn't let that happen.

When the third pitch to cleanup hitter Dustin Butler dropped in the dirt and behind a confused Cohoon, Folsom threw caution to the wind and barreled home for the game's first run ' beating the relay back to pitcher Pat Drysdale in a cloud of dust.

We work on base running every day, but you can't teach that, said ninth-year North coach Brett Wolfe. Athletically, Robbie just reacted and made a great play.

It might have seemed inconsequential at the time, but that 1-0 lead helped relieve a little tension for North and, following a walk to Butler and a stolen base, Jimmy Ulrey laced an RBI double to put the Tornado ahead to stay.

When we scored that first one, that took a lot of pressure off us and we were able to relax, said Wolfe, whose team came in determined to atone for last season's first-round upset loss to Newberg.

Monday's victory established a school record for North (24-3), and earned the Black Tornado a second-round date with Wilson, a 6-4 winner over Gresham. Wednesday's game is at 4 p.m. at Miles Field.

Tualatin (17-10) missed a great opportunity to put some doubt in the Tornado's mind when the Timberwolves loaded the bases with one out in the second. Ulrey made a heads-up play in right field with a quick cutoff and throw into the infield to keep Tualatin from going home on the final single.

Butler then bore down for a strikeout and forced a weak fly ball into no man's land behind first base, with Ulrey's diving catch halting the threat.

We had a chance to get back in the game with the bases loaded, and their kid pitched out of it, Tualatin coach Ted Rose said of Butler, who pitched a five-hitter with four strikeouts in improving to 10-0. That shows why he's a very solid pitcher.

Sparked by another hustle play, the Tornado jumped all over Tualatin with six runs on four hits and an error in the second for an 8-0 lead. Russ Vandell supplied the big hit with a two-run single, with Ulrey scoring a third run as the cutoff throw home by relief pitcher Kevin Mignano sailed wide of the plate.

Tyler Engle, Reese Lamson and Butler also had RBI efforts in the inning.

Folsom drove another nail in Tualatin's coffin with an inside-the-park homer in the third as his line-drive sailed over the head of right fielder Christian Peters.

You've got to be pretty lucky to get one of those, said Folsom, adding that his only other such homer came in his Little League days.

I knew I hit the ball well, but I knew it was flat, too, he added. Once I got to first, I saw it go between his arms and I knew I could get three, but then coach Wolfe waved me on in.

Folsom scored three runs in a 2-for-3 outing, with Ulrey and Brett Timmerman also notching two hits and an RBI. Seven Tornado players drove home at least one run.

Their (batting) lineup one through nine is as tough of a hitting team as I've seen all season, said Rose. We were overmatched today.

Tualatin....................................001 000 0 ' — 5 3

North Medford.....................261 001 x ' 10 10 2

Drysdale, Mignano (2), Hefley (4) and Cohoon; Butler and Folsom. W ' Butler (10-0). L ' Drysdale (2-1). 2B ' NM: Ulrey. HR ' NM: Folsom (9).

North Medford?s Jimmy Ulrey makes a diving catch in the second inning to prevent Tualatin from scoring with the bases loaded in Monday?s game. Mail Tribune / Roy Musitelli - Mail Tribune Roy Musitelli