Miscues hinder North in Sheldon sweep
Good teams have a way of making you do uncharacteristic things, and North Medford’s baseball team has historically been on the positive end of that scenario.
On Saturday, however, the tables were turned by defending Class 6A state champion Sheldon, which repeatedly applied pressure to the Black Tornado and secured a three-game series sweep with 3-1 and 12-4 victories at North Medford High.
On Tuesday, Sheldon won 8-0 after four Black Tornado errors resulted in eight unearned runs in the Southwest Conference clash.
The weekend brought a little more of the same, as North Medford (10-7, 7-5 SWC) committed four errors in a close first game to cut into a solid start by sophomore left-hander Larson Kindreich, who allowed one earned run in six innings.
The nightcap didn’t get any better as eight Tornado errors helped pave the way for a sweep by Sheldon (12-5, 11-1).
“We did enough to win Game 1,” said North Medford head coach Brett Wolfe. “Larson pitched really well but we opened the door defensively and therefore they walked through it like a good team will do. Game 2 kind of mirrored that.”
Sheldon supplied its own misfortune in Game 2 as the Tornado scored all of its runs in a fourth inning that featured a dropped fly ball, three walks, two wild pitches, one passed ball and a throwing error.
North’s Berry Hunt had his team’s only hit of the game toward the end of the rally and his pinch-runner, fellow senior Dallas Casebier, scored the go-ahead run at 4-3 when he stole third base and the throw by catcher Sam Olsson escaped into left field.
Even with that momentum on its side, North Medford couldn’t capitalize as Sheldon roared back with two runs in the top of the fifth to take control for good. Sheldon’s rally included a hard-hit single by Olsson and an ensuing RBI triple by Dylan Dudley that resulted in him scoring after second baseman Tate Cowden relayed the ball over the head of third baseman Dakota Adams.
The wheels came off from that point on for North Medford, with Sheldon scoring seven times in the sixth inning — all with two outs — on six hits and four walks and more Tornado miscues.
“It’s disappointing because you don’t like to work that hard and then show like that,” said Wolfe, “but they’re kids and they’re not professionals and you learn good lessons from it. We’ve just got to take care of those three outs an inning and let the rest happen because I think we’re good enough offensively to put balls in play and move guys around, and we’re good enough on the mound.”
Kindreich allowed 10 hits with no walks or strikeouts in the opener, and helped his own cause by picking off three baserunners. The sophomore also had half of his team’s hits, going 2-for-3 with one run scored after a Sheldon error.
Hunt allowed 12 hits with two walks and two strikeouts and had North’s only hit in Game 2.
“We’ve been struggling trying to put some hits together, whether you score with two outs on them or just score period,” admitted Wolfe. “We’ve been struggling to put a game or two together offensively.”
Given the landscape of the SWC, however, North Medford remained in contention for the top spot thanks in large part to its cross-town rival, with South Medford sweeping the three-game series this week against Roseburg. The Black Tornado and Indians each stand tied for second place at 7-5, four games behind Sheldon, heading into next week’s key series between the long-time rivals.
Wolfe said he expects his players to adjust and move on as they move deeper into the SWC schedule.
“These kids are good kids and defensively we’re a lot more solid than what we’re putting on the field,” said the coach. “We work really hard so I expect us to fully bounce back and compete because that’s the kind of character we have.”
J. Herbert, Diehl (6) and Olsson; L. Kindreich, Casebier (7) and Wolff. W — Herbert. L — L. Kindreich (3-1). 2B — NM: Wolff.
Dudley, Strom (4), P. Herbert (5) and Olsson, Hansen (6); Hunt, Casebier (6), Collins (6) and Wolff. W — P. Herbert. L — Hunt (1-4). 3B — S: Dudley.
Reach reporter Kris Henry at 541-776-4488, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.facebook.com/krishenryMT or www.twitter.com/Kris_Henry