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Liberty holds off Crater in tourney

CENTRAL POINT — With only one returning varsity baseball player in the field, and one other from last year’s pitching rotation, Crater continued to show that it’s a work in progress Wednesday on Day 2 of the Crater Spring Break Tournament at Anhorn Field.

A slow start proved costly against Liberty, which scored three runs in the bottom of the first inning and opened a 6-1 advantage before ultimately settling for an 8-5 triumph.

Crater (0-3) closed the gap with a four-run fifth inning to make it 6-5 but the Falcons answered with two runs of their own in the sixth to right the ship.

“We were playing catch-up from the beginning,” said Crater head coach Jay Campbell. “We actually had some good quality at-bats today with some two-strike battling at the plate. We’ve seen some good arms in the three games we’ve played so far and we’ve come up short, obviously, in those games but we’re making adjustments and I think we’re improving.”

Liberty junior Renner Stecki was 4-for-4 with two runs and had an RBI double in the first inning, while Tyler Parker went 3-for-4 with one run for the Falcons (5-0), who totaled 11 hits. Liberty also beat Clackamas 6-2 on Wednesday.

Caine Smith supplied an RBI single to plate Jake Ireland in the second inning for the Comets. In the fifth, Stecki walked four straight batters to put Crater in position for a big inning. Two wild pitches and an RBI single by senior returner Gunnar Asher followed for the Comets.

Crater senior Dylan Pearce, part of last year’s rotation with Asher, struck out nine and walked two in a complete-game effort.

Also Wednesday, Clackamas edged South Salem, 3-2, and Grants Pass beat North Salem, 3-2.

Tournament play concludes today with games at 11 a.m., 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. at Anhorn Field.

Crater;010;040;0;—;5;3;4

Liberty;302;102;x;—;8;11;2

Pearce and Morgan; Stecki, Batke (5), Wise (6) and Lepley, Bafaro (3). W — Stecki. L — Pearce (0-2). 2B — L: Parker, Stecki, Akin.

RED BLUFF 5-12, SOUTH MEDFORD 1-3: At Red Bluff, Calif., South Medford’s Hunter Bradford had a two-run triple in Game 2 and Tyler Frost pitched well in relief during the opener to highlight the Panthers’ effort in the nonleague twin bill.

South Medford (0-3) took a 3-0 lead in the third inning of Game 2 after Matt DeVries scored on a bases-loaded balk and Bradford supplied a two-run triple to plate Ryan Carle and Cole Carder. Red Bluff (12-0), however, responded with a seven-run fifth inning to build an insurmountable lead.

Frost came on in relief with the bases loaded and one out in the third and got the Panthers out of the jam. He went 3⅔ innings with only one hit allowed, no walks and one strikeout. Frost also scored South’s lone run following a single by Alex Bylund, who went on to add two hits in Game 2.

FIRST GAME

South Medford;000;100;0;—;1;4;3

Red Bluff;221;000;x;—;5;9;0

DeVries, Frost (3) and Mahoney; Button, Pritchard (5) and Gamboa. W — Button. L — DeVries (0-1). 2B — RB: Button.

SECOND GAME

South Medford;003;000;0;—;3;6;3

Red Bluff;001;074;x;—;12;14;1

Thompson, Carle (5) and Mahoney; Clawson, MacDonald (4) and MacDonald, Gamboa (4). W — MacDonald. L — Carle (0-2). 2B — RB: Dodero, Hendricks. 3B — SM: Bradford. HR — RB: Gamboa.

GRANTS PASS 6, NORTH SALEM 2: At Central Point, Grants Pass’ Cody Ekwall pitched a complete game with four hits and two walks allowed against nine strikeouts on Day 2 of the Crater Spring Break Tournament at Anhorn Field.

Ekwall also was 2-for-3 with two runs and two RBIs for the Cavemen (3-1), while teammate Easton Bents was 2-for-4 with two runs and Logan Zozaya went 2-for-3 with one RBI.

A bases-loaded throwing error allowed two runs to score for GP’s first lead and, after a sacrifice fly, the Cavemen scored their fourth run in the fourth inning on an errant pickoff attempt at third base.

Alex Alvarado was 2-for-3 with one run for North Salem (1-3).

Grants Pass;000;401;1;—;6;8;1

North Salem;010;100;0;—;2;4;4

Ekwall and Bjorn; Jolly, Bevens (6) and Hamilton. W — Ekwall (2-0). L — Jolly. 2B — GP: Ekwall; NS: Holden.

ASHLAND 9, BRIGHTON (Colo.) 7: At Phoenix, Ariz., Nick Sanderson’s RBI bloop double to left field put Ashland ahead in the top of the seventh inning and Steen Fredrickson secured a game-ending strikeout with two on and two out in the bottom half to preserve the rally at the Greenway Festival.

Sanderson finished 2-for-4 with one run and Jett Hamik plated a pair of runs on a groundout and a single for the Grizzlies (4-1). Caleb Bell’s sacrifice fly RBI preceded Sanderson’s flare that was lost in the sun.

Connor Reynolds had a three-run home run for Brighton in the fourth inning but was tagged with the loss after moving to the mound from shortstop in the seventh. His chance at redemption in the bottom of the seventh fell short when Fredrickson struck him out to end the threat.

Ashland next plays Evergreen High of Colorado at 1 p.m. today at Greenway High.

Ashland;015;000;3;—;9;7;0

Brighton;013;300;0;—;7;12;7

Millgram, Jes. Carroll (4), Fredrickson (7) and Hamik; Treio, Pepin (5), Reynolds (7) and Farmer. W — Jes. Carroll (1-0). L — Reynolds. 2B — A: Jer. Carroll, Sanderson. HR — B: Reynolds.