South stumbles in pivotal clash
Fifth-ranked South Medford missed its chance to move into a lead position in the Southwest Conference baseball race Saturday, with visiting Roseburg scoring 5-1 and 9-6 wins over the Panthers in a doubleheader moved to Lithia & Driveway Fields due to previous rain this week.
The Panthers (9-3, 1-3 SWC) had high hopes heading into the weekend but were just unable to put their best foot forward against a Roseburg team certain to contend for the SWC title.
“They got five full practices in this week and we got one, and it showed,” said South Medford head coach Josh Moody, noting Roseburg’s turf baseball field and indoor hitting facility at Legion Field coming in handy during a week of rainy conditions across the state.
“That can be a little frustrating as a coach to get our guys prepared when you just can’t do too much,” he added.
South Medford built a 1-0 lead in the first inning of Game 1 but couldn’t generate any other runs in a good pitching battle between Indians senior Dominic Tatone and Panthers senior Tanner Douglas. Tatone wound up striking out nine with four walks and four hits allowed in five innings, while Douglas struck out eight with five walks and three hits allowed in six innings.
“You’ve got to tip your hat to their senior lefty Tatone,” Moody said. “He’s got three pitches that he throws for strikes and he’s a high school veteran who knows what he’s doing and we didn’t string enough quality at-bats together against him.”
Jace Miller singled and worked his way around the bases on a stolen base, Roseburg error and wild pitch in the first for South.
Roseburg responded with a leadoff single by Tatone in the second and ensuing triple by Nathan Wayman, who enjoyed a big afternoon at the plate Saturday. Wayman, a senior, added a two-run single in the sixth inning to give his team a 4-1 advantage.
Miller finished 2-for-4 with one run and Kaleb Long was 2-for-3 for South.
“We knew that we had our work cut out for us going into these games,” Moody said. “The ball just didn’t fall for us and we didn’t execute the way that we needed to. A few small things ended up costing us big in Game 1 and then they just ended up outplaying us in Game 2.”
Roseburg led 4-0 in the nightcap until South Medford struck for three runs in the bottom of the second inning.
Elijah Havey got the surge started by drawing a leadoff walk against Roseburg starter Austin Takahashi and, after an error, Long singled to load the bases. The Panthers were then able to capitalize on RBI efforts from Jake Mason, Tosh Stupenhaus and Tristan Mallari to make it 4-3.
Roseburg answered the challenge with five straight runs over the next four innings before South staged a last-ditch comeback effort in the bottom of the seventh.
After Mallari reached on an error to lead off the seventh, Cameron Sewell doubled to put both runners in scoring position, who obliged by enjoying a little extra windy day to left field at L&D Fields with a three-run home run off Takahashi.
With the score at 9-6, Roseburg brought in junior Parker Burke — son of former major leaguer Jamie Burke — and he earned the save by inducing groundouts by Douglas and Havey before a game-ending flyout by Carson Joe.
Long also finished 2-for-3 in the nightcap for South, while Wayman had a two-run homer in Game 2 to highlight a 3-for-4 effort with three RBIs for Roseburg. Takahashi was also 3-for-5 with one RBI in the nightcap.
“They beat us in the box score and in effort and intensity and focus,” Moody said. “We just didn’t show up the way we needed to.”
Saturday’s losses make Tuesday’s matchup against North Medford at Harry & David Field that much more important for the Panthers as they battle for SWC position.
“In terms of playing for that conference title, a lot of it is now out of our control,” Moody said, “so we’ve just got to get ready for Tuesday and do what we can to win that game and then hopefully we get some help from somebody else.”
Tatone, White (6) and Hubbard; Douglas, Mallari (7) and Havey. W — Tatone. L — Douglas (3-1). 3B — R: Wayman.
Takahashi, Burke (7) and Hubbard; Joe, Robertson (4), Sewell (7) and Long. W — Takahashi. L — Joe (3-2). S — Burke. 2B — R: Gillespie, Kincaid, Wayman 2; SM: Sewell, Havey. 3B — R: Hubbard. HR — R: Wayman; SM: Miller.
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