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Tornado slides by Pelicans

Hits and runs have been a little hard to come by for the North Medford High baseball team this season, but the Black Tornado went on the offensive Tuesday.

Darren Bruhns pounded out three hits and Zach Earl, Abe Eubank and Tyler Lake belted two each as the Tornado romped to an 11-6 Southern Oregon Conference victory over Klamath Union on a cloudy, cold and windy afternoon at the new Harry and David Field.

North Medford (6-5, 5-2 SOC) entered the game hitting just .260 as a team but raised its average a few points by whacking a dozen hits.

We had a nasty virus go through our entire team at the start of the season, North Medford coach Brett Wolfe said. You don't like to make excuses, but for a two-week period we had two or three guys missing practice every day. It's hard to put the pieces together in that situation.

But we're healthy now and the kids are playing with confidence.

— None more so than Bruhns, the Tornado's standout junior catcher and leadoff hitter. Bruhns drilled a double to kick-start a three-run first inning for North Medford and by the end of the day he had gone 3-for-3, scored four runs and driven in one.

Bruhns also drew a walk, stole a base and ' on defense ' he picked off one Klamath Union baserunner and nearly nailed another.

I got a lot of pitches on the outer half of the plate and I took them to the opposite field, Bruhns said. I've had some tough luck with some balls hit right at people but I've stayed patient and today I found some holes.

Klamath Union, which starts six underclassmen, hung tough early. The Pelicans rocked North Medford pitcher Trevor McCleery for seven hits in the first three innings ' including a home run to left center by sophomore Jake Waardenburg ' and trailed just 5-4 at that juncture.

But the Tornado extended its lead to 6-4 in the fourth when Bruhns walked and scurried home on a throwing error by Klamath Union catcher Mark Cruz. The miscue occurred when Earl put down a perfect bunt and Cruz threw wildly to first attempting to throw him out.

North Medford then put the hammer down in the fifth when it tallied five runs on four hits in padding its lead to 11-4. Singles by Tyler Lake and Dustin Shipley were followed by a Bruhns RBI single, an Earl walk and Eubank's two-run single.

Klamath compounded its woes by committing two errors in North Medford's big inning.

We've played a lot of people tough, but we're a young team and we make mistakes at crucial times, said Klamath Union first-year coach Matt Miles, whose Pels fell to 0-6 in the SOC and 1-10 overall. We missed the cutoff man twice in that (fifth) inning, which advanced runners, plus we made two other errors.

We're still learning how to win.

The bright spot for Klamath was Waardenburg, a 6-foot-3, 180-pounder who not only homered but also pitched well in relief of starter and loser Aaron Montgomery. Leaning on a zippy fastball, Waardenburg struck out the first two batters he faced ' Logan Odom and Lake ' after North Medford had scored two runs, loaded the bases and threatened to generate a huge second inning.

Waardenburg allowed just one hit ' Earl's bunt ' and struck out five of the first 10 batters he faced before the Tornado finally got to him in the fifth.

He's a 15-year-old kid with a lot of potential, Miles said. We think he could be a (pro) prospect.

North Medford meets archrival South Medford in a doubleheader Saturday at Harry and David Field.

Klamath Union.......................211 002 0 ' 6 13 2

North Medford.....................320 150 x ' 11 12 3

Montgomery, Waardenberg (2), Montgomery (5) and M. Cruz; McCleery and Bruhns. W ' McCleery (3-2). L ' Montgomery. 2B ' KU: Wilhite, M. Cruz; NM ' Bruhns. HR ' KU: Waardenberg.

Tornado slides by Pelicans "dhunt@mailtribune.com.

North Medford junior Darren Bruhns, right, rolls past the tag of Klamath Union catcher Mark Cruz to score during Tuesday?s SOC affair.