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PREP BASEBALL: South Medford streaks by North Medford

South Medford’s baseball team saw its winning streak over North Medford blossom to 10 games Saturday, but it certainly didn’t come easy in the crosstown rivalry.

The Panthers held on for a 4-2 triumph to open the Southwest Conference doubleheader at North Medford High, then used a seven-run rally in the seventh inning to push past the Black Tornado for a 9-8 win in the nightcap that wrapped up a three-game sweep this season.

“That was two fun ballgames,” said first-year South Medford coach Josh Moody, whose team moved to 9-9 overall and 5-4 in SWC play. “I would say it’s fun because we came out on the winning side, but they were both just competitive games. It was fun.”

North Medford (8-10, 3-6) found itself in prime position to snap its drought against the Panthers and salvage a split with a 5-2 lead in the nightcap heading into the final frame, but South didn’t relent.

A leadoff walk to Bennett Smith got the rally started and was followed by a single by Chase Costanti. After reliever Cody Borraggine came on in place of Ryan Sandoval, who was limited to only 25 pitches Saturday, Trevor Marthoski walked to load the bases. A wild pitch made it 5-3, then Steven Ledendecker tied the game with his two-run single.

The Tornado then opted to intentionally walk sophomore standout Bennett Thompson, and an error on a grounder by Giovanni Bottero again loaded the bases. That’s when Zac Ankeny put his team on top with a two-run single. Charlie Campbell followed with an RBI single and Bottero eventually scored on another error to put South’s lead at 9-5.

“I’ve been preaching all year to these guys to just play every pitch and if we do that we’re not ever out of it,” said Moody. “I just told them to focus on every pitch and not give in and, if we do that, we can live with the results. We ended up putting a couple basehits together and it was fun to watch.”

North Medford showed its own character in the bottom of the frame, scoring three runs on a two-out, two-run double by Borraggine and RBI single by Ryan Kloek before the Panthers were able to end the threat by nabbing Kloek in a rundown between first base and second base for the final out.

Regardless of the outcomes, Tornado coach Brett Wolfe said he was proud of how his team battled through the adversity.

“That’s a tough inning for young kids, to come through and give up a three-run lead and not only that, to give up seven runs,” said Wolfe of Game 2. “That’s tough, but the thing I’ll take pride in is they came back and scored three runs in the bottom of that inning and didn’t give up and competed.”

“Give (South) credit,” he added. “They battled and put the ball in play and we kicked it around a little and gave an extra out or two and the next thing you know there were three or four runs on the board.”

Borraggine finished 3-for-4 with two runs and two RBIs in the nightcap, while Brady Buchanan drove in two runs and Jeremiah Huffman scored twice for North.

Starting pitcher Jett Carpenter tossed five hitless innings with one strikeout and four walks before being removed after experiencing pain below his pitching shoulder.

In the opener, South Medford sophomore pitcher Blake Shields wasn’t at his best, according to Moody, but he was able to fend off North Medford’s lineup by allowing five hits with two walks and three strikeouts in five innings.

Thompson helped nail down the win by tossing two scoreless innings in relief, allowing one hit with two strikeouts, for the first of his two saves on the day.

The Panthers built a 4-0 cushion thanks to a three-run fifth inning that saw Shields score after an error and Ledendecker provide a two-run single.

The Tornado cut its deficit in half in the bottom of the fifth when Taven Passey scored Borraggine on a sacrifice fly and Sandoval scored after an error on a Huffman grounder, but that was as close as North would get.

Thompson finished 2-for-4 with one run for South, while Borraggine was 2-for-4 and Jett Carpenter finished 2-for-3 for the Tornado.

North’s AJ Balsiger joined Shields in keeping the game scoreless through three innings and Wolfe credited the junior with mixing his pitches well to lift the Tornado’s chances in the opener.

“He really gave us a good opportunity in Game 1,” said the coach, “we just left too many on in scoring position. He had good command, great velocity and no real fear in his first varsity start against a crosstown rival.”

FIRST GAME

South Medford0001300—452

North Medford0000200—272

Shields, Thompson (6) and Thompson, Ledendecker (6); Balsiger, Borraggine (5) and Passey. W — Shields (3-3). L — Balsiger (0-1). S — Thompson (2).

SECOND GAME

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North Medford0100313—884

Boortz, Ledendecker (5), Thompson (7) and Thompson, Ledendecker (7); Carpenter, Sandoval (6), Borraggine (7), Dunlevy (7) and Passey. W — Ledendecker (1-0). L — Borraggine (2-4). S — Thompson (3). 2B — NM: Borraggine 2.

GRANTS PASS 5-13, SHELDON 2-12: At Grants Pass, host Grants Pass rallied from a 12-5 deficit with six runs in the sixth inning and one each in the seventh and eighth innings in Game 2 to sweep Sheldon for its first SWC wins.

Payton Calabro had a home run and four RBIs and Kolby Dinkel was 4-for-5 with three doubles and three RBIs to lead the Cavemen (10-10, 2-7 SWC) to a rally in the nightcap.

Cade King allowed six hits with six strikeouts through 62/3 innings in the opener to deny Sheldon (7-12, 2-7), with Braeden Bellum going 2-for-3 with two RBIs.

FIRST GAME

Sheldon0010001—262

Grants Pass140000x—5110

Wagers, Boyd (2) and Lugo; King, Calabro (7) and Hood. W — King. L — Wagers. 2B — S: Morgan; GP: King, Bellum.

SECOND GAME

Sheldon52031100—12100

Grants Pass40100611—13143

Prickel, Laugworth (6), Haffiner (7) and Lugo; Knight, Bellum (1), Calabro (4), Tobin (7) and Hood. W — Tobin. L — Haffiner. 2B — S: Bynum 2, Aiker; GP: Dinkel 3, Durler 2. 3B — GP: Tobin. HR — Calabro.

ASHLAND 5-10, SPRINGFIELD 2-8: At Springfield, Eli Westrick tossed a four-hitter in the opener for Ashland and the Grizzlies pulled away in the nightcap to complete the Midwestern League road sweep.

Westrick allowed one earned run and struck out six in going the distance in Game 1.

Nate Carter went 2-3, scored a run and drove in what proved to be the winning run in the third inning — scoring Dane Reynolds, who had reached on an error.

Reynolds went 2-3 and scored two runs for the Grizzlies (12-8, 7-5 MWL).

In Game 2, Evan McLennan picked up the victory by pitching four innings in relief against Springfield (3-18, 2-10).

Carter went 2-4 with three runs scored and an RBI and McLennan contributed two hits, two runs and one RBI.

Ashland broke a 6-all tie by scoring four runs in the fourth inning. McLennan, Carter and Traber Burns all delievered RBI singles in the winning outburst.

FIRST GAME

Ashland0210011—561

Springfield0100010—244

Westrick and Drieling; Endicott and King. W — Westrick. L — Endicott. 2B — A: Reynolds.

SECOND GAME

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Springfield1231100—8112

Amann, McLennan (4) and Drieling; Irvin, Sharr (5) and King. W — McLennan. L — Irvin. 2B — S: Klym, Born 2.

PHOENIX 5-1, HENLEY 1-3: At Talent, Phoenix got standout starting pitching from Liam Serean and Freedom Martinez to score a split and nearly accomplish more in Skyline Conference play at Hagler-James Field.

Serean scattered five hits with nine strikeouts and six walks in six innings to win the opener, with Ethan Humble tossing a perfect seventh inning for Phoenix (11-9, 5-4 Sky).

In Game 2, Martinez struck out 12, walked three and allowed seven hits to fall short in a good matchup with Hayden Rasica of Henley (16-2, 8-1), whose line was the same as Martinez’s save for six hits allowed.

AJ Stanfield, Kade Beer and Logan Jenkins each had RBIs and Martinez capped off a five-run first inning in Game 1 with his two-run single.

Phoenix’s lone run in Game 2 came in the fourth after Brandon Zanni walked and eventually scored on a two-out single by Colton Merriman.

John Tacchini’s two-run single in the third inning proved to be the deciding runs for Henley.

FIRST GAME

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Phoenix500000x—560

Hudson and Loney; Serean, Humble (7) and Zanni. W — Serean (4-2). L — Hudson.

SECOND GAME

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Phoenix0001000—161

Hay. Rasica and Loney; Martinez and Merriman. W — Hay. Raysica. L — Martinez (3-2).

Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneNorth’s Ryan Sandoval connects for an RBI in game one.
Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneSouth’s Blake Shields connects for a base hit in game one.