Panthers pull off key sweep of No. 10 South Eugene
Pitchers Ricky Boortz and Blake Shields turned in gritty complete-game efforts against one of the top teams in the state and the South Medford offense capitalized on its opportunities enough to give the Panthers their biggest Southwest Conference sweep of the season, 9-6 and 6-3 over 10th-ranked South Eugene on Saturday at Harry & David Field.
Boortz held the Axe to six runs, two earned, on six hits in his 99-pitch Game 1 effort, and Shields limited the visitors to three runs, zero earned, in an efficient 85-pitch outing in Game 2, as the Panthers (12-10, 8-4 SWC) earned their fifth and sixth straight league wins to climb within a game of first-place Roseburg in the SWC standings.
“That sort of scrambles things around a little bit (in the SWC),” South Medford head coach Josh Moody said. “A lot of weird things would have to happen here but we set ourselves up so that if we win out, we’re kind of in the hunt for that top spot.”
In the opener, South Eugene jumped out in front by scoring three runs on three hits in the top of the first, but the Panthers came right back with four runs in the bottom of the inning, three on a bases-clearing double just inside the foul line in right by Bennett Smith.
A pair of RBI singles by Bennett Thompson and Giovanni Bottero helped the Panthers increase their lead to 7-3 in the second, and that proved to be enough for Boortz, who struck out five and walked one.
“(Boortz) really found his curve ball and change-up and was able to throw three pitches for strikes,” Moody said. “He kept them off balance throughout the rest of the game.”
Thompson was 3-for-4 with two RBIs and two runs scored in the opener, and Steven Ledendecker 2-for-4 with two runs scored.
In the second game, South Eugene (15-7, 8-4) again drew first blood by scoring two runs in the top of the third, and the Panthers again bounced back quickly, this time erupting for five runs in the bottom of the third on two singles, a sacrifice fly, two walks and a hit by pitch.
The big inning began with back to back walks followed by a hit batter to load the bases. Chase Costanti then delivered an RBI single, Ledendecker hit a sac fly to center and Thompson kept the rally going with his own run-scoring single.
Smith went 2-for-2 with an RBI and a run scored, and Shields struck out three with a walk.
“We got down early on the scoreboard but didn’t get down on ourselves,” Moody said. “That was probably the best our offense has been all season against two good pitchers.”
Miller and Brown; Boortz and Thompson. W — Boortz. L — Miller. 2B — SM: Smith. 3B — SE: Boettcher.
Robertson and Edwards; Shields and Thompson. W — Shields. L — Robertson. 2B — SE: Miller.
CHURCHILL 10-10, EAGLE POINT 7-9: At Eagle Point, Eagle Point rallied with two runs in the bottom of the seventh inning of the opening game but was unable to capitalize on multiple opportunities with runners in scoring position in extra innings.
With the score knotted 7-all in the bottom of the eighth, the Eagles (5-7, 8-11 Midwestern League) squandered their best chance after loading the bases with no outs.
Skylar Gaudern finished 3-for-3, Kyler Kendrick 4-for-6 and Kolbi Blevins 2-for-4 with two RBIs. Darin Marsh hit two doubles and tallied a pair of runs.
In the nightcap, Eagle Point stormed out to a 5-0 lead against one of the state’s top pitchers in Beau Burnett but the Lancers (20-3, 11-3) answered with five of their own and wound up taking a 10-6 lead into the bottom of the seventh.
The Eagles scored three runs in the bottom of the frame but stranded the tying run at third base.
Marsh finished 3-for-5 with a two RBIs and a run while Jake Leeper went 2-for-3 with a run.
Lydon, Tofte (3), White (7) and Jones; Gaudern, Fontana (8), Lund (10) and Kendrick. W — White. L — Lund. 2B — C: Jones; EP: Marsh 2, Blevins.
Burnett, White (6), Townsend (7) and Crowson, Jones (6); Foulon, Marsh (6) and Kendrick. W — Burnett. L — Foulon. 2B — C: Weiskind, Lydon. 3B — EP: Blevins, Page. HR — C: Estrella.
PHOENIX 6-5, HIDDEN VALLEY 2-7: At Phoenix, Liam Serean continued his dominance at the mound for the Phoenix, helping it snap Skyline Conference-leading Hidden Valley’s eight-game winning streak before the Mustangs rallied for the win in the nightcap.
Serean, who has allowed just one earned run all season in Skyline play, pitched a complete game and struck out eight, allowing two runs — none earned — on six hits and two walks.
He was backed by timely two-out, two-run singles from both Freedom Martinez and Kade Beer in the second and third innings, respectively.
Both Martinez and Beer finished 2-for-3 while Brandon Zanni went 2-for-4, scored twice and knocked in a run for the Pirates (12-11, 6-6 Skyline).
In the top of the seventh inning of Game 2 with the Pirates ahead 5-3, the Mustangs’ Sam Vidlak hit the go-ahead three-run triple during a four-run frame, propelling Hidden Valley (21-2, 10-2) to the win.
Beer went 2-for-4 with two RBIs, Serean 2-for-2 with two walks, Mason Stella 2-for-4 and Nik Goff 2-for-3 with a run scored.
Vidlak added a two-run triple in the first inning and finished 3-for-5.
Harry and Iwamizu; Serean and Zanni. W — Serean (7-1). L — Harry. 2B — P: Zanni.
Shults, S. Vidlak (5), Hill (5) and Iwamizu; Martinez, Stella (7) and Merriman. W — Hill. L — Martinez (4-4). 3B — HV: S. Vidlak 2.