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PREP BASEBALL: South stuns GP with 7th-inning rally

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No. 10-ranked Panthers get walk-off hit by Mitchell to cap comeback

South Medford baseball coach Josh Moody has been preaching to his players to focus on playing every pitch, from the top of the first to the bottom of the seventh.

While everything in between wasn’t always stellar for the 10th-ranked Panthers, they definitely took heed of that advice Tuesday in a pivotal Southwest Conference clash with Grants Pass at Harry & David Field.

South Medford trailed the entire game before rallying with two runs in the bottom of the seventh to steal a 5-4 victory over the visiting Cavemen on a walk-off single by freshman pinch-hitter Cooper Mitchell.

“It was a hard-fought win,” Moody said. “They were ahead of us in the standings and it wasn’t looking good there for a while. Every game is a playoff game here moving forward in this conference. Credit to Grants Pass, they showed up better than we did without a doubt, but we’ll take them whenever we can get them and however we can get them.”

The Panthers (12-3, 4-3 SWC) opened the seventh against relief pitcher Troy Osborne with a spark from senior Tanner Douglas, who drove an 0-2 pitch down the left field line for a leadoff double. Douglas previously had an RBI single in the fifth inning.

“If I could pick one guy to lead off the bottom of the seventh down one run it would be Tanner,” said Moody. “They intentionally walked him two times today but couldn’t do that in the seventh. He had a great approach and drove the ball the opposite way to get into scoring position right away for us.”

Douglas soon moved to third base on a wild pitch and, with the GP infield drawn in, Elijah Havey delivered another drive deep into the left field corner for an RBI double to tie the game at 4-all with no outs.

“That was huge not just being a sacrifice fly but tying the game up there and having a runner in scoring position with no outs,” said Moody of Havey’s hit. “We practiced all week on driving the ball to the outfield for a sacrifice fly with the infield drawn in and he did that even better for us.”

The Cavemen (9-7, 4-3) opted to intentionally walk Carson Joe to set up a force play and got what they wanted when Tosh Stupenhaus sent a roller toward second base but GP was unable to pull off a game-ending double play as Stupenhaus raced up the line and the relay throw skipped to first base.

With runners now on the corners, Moody called upon Mitchell and the freshman delivered on a 3-1 pitch by singling through the right side of the infield to set off a Panther celebration.

“He came up really big for us and drove that ball into right field,” said Moody. “We just felt like Cooper’s got pretty good bat speed and they had brought in a guy who had a lot better fastball than their starting pitcher, so he put us in the best position to help the team win.”

The fact that the move paid off made it all that more enjoyable.

“It was a great feeling,” added Moody. “Cooper’s been staying with us and waiting for his time. He hasn’t gotten many starts for us but he’s been grinding away for us as kind of a bubble guy on JV and off the bench for us on varsity. I felt really happy for him to have that ball get through there.”

Grants Pass built a 2-0 lead in the second on a two-run triple by Caleb Martinez against South starter Carson Joe that got over the head of right fielder Jackson Robertson.

The Panthers cut their deficit in half in the third behind a leadoff single from Cameron Sewell, who eventually scored on a wild pitch.

The Cavemen went back up 4-1 in the fourth on an RBI single by Tyler Ireland that got away from left fielder Gannon Jones and also allowed Jackson Tunick to score.

In the fifth, South Medford turned a double play to escape a jam and then tallied two unearned runs to pull within 4-3, with Joe joining Douglas in posting an RBI single.

Sewell finished 2-for-4 with two runs and Douglas was 2-for-2 with two runs and one RBI for South, while Luke Baker was 2-for-3 with a run for GP.

Grants Pass0202000—473

South Medford0010202—594

Ireland, Osborne (6) and Osborne, Carnes (6); Joe, Sewell (7) and Havey. W — Sewell (1-0). L — Osborne. 2B — SM: Douglas, Havey. 3B — GP: Martinez.

NORTH MEDFORD 7, SOUTH EUGENE 2: At Eugene, North Medford backed Aiden Horsley’s solid outing on the mound with 13 hits en route to the Southwest Conference road triumph.

Horsley pitched six innings, allowing two runs — one earned — on five hits, two walks and a couple hit batters.

North Medford’s Johnny King went 3-for-4 with a double, an RBI and two runs scored while Jeremiah Robbins and Trey Newmann both finished 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI. Frankie Rutigliano also scored twice for the Black Tornado (9-9, 3-4 SWC).

South Eugene dropped to 6-10 overall and 1-6 in the SWC.

North Medford1021012—7131

South Eugene0010010—251

Horsley, King (7) and Robbins; Hadley, Lea (6) and Reeves. W — Horsley (2-3). L — Hadley. 2B — NM: Robbins, King, Horsley, Newmann; SE: Mueller, Bush.

CASCADE CHRISTIAN 17, SUTHERLIN 14: Top-ranked Cascade Christian rallied behind an eight-run sixth inning to remain unbeaten in Far West League play at Lithia & Driveway Fields.

The Challengers (14-1, 4-0 FWL) scored five runs in the bottom of the fifth to trim the lead by Sutherlin (5-9, 0-4) to 13-9, then batted around the lineup again in the sixth to take the lead.

Cole Shields had a three-run double to clear the bases in the sixth, while Jack Knips supplied a triple and Keith Reed and Cody Reece added consecutive RBI doubles.

Shileds finished 2-for-3 with three runs and four RBIs, Triston Wallace was 3-for-3 with three runs and two RBIs and Owen Thompson 2-for-4 with one run and two RBIs for the Challengers.

Sutherlin0034601—14126

Cascade Christian400058x—17132

Fultz, Flora (5) and McKnight; Thompson, A. Moody (4), Letendre (5) and Wallace. W — Letendre. L — Flora. 2B — S: Menks, Lepre; CC: Knips, Reece, Reid, Shields, Wallace. 3B — CC: Knips, Shields.

SOUTH UMPQUA 11, ST. MARY’S 0, 5 inn.: At Myrtle Creek, after seeing its first two batters reach base, St. Mary’s was unable to generate the offense it needed to keep pace with host South Umpqua in the Far West League contest.

The Crusaders (9-4, 2-2 FWL) fell behind early after the Lancers (11-4, 1-3) scored seven total runs over the first two innings and were the beneficiaries of six St. Mary’s errors.

The game lasted just five innings by virtue of the 10-run mercy rule.

St. Mary’s00000—036

South Umpqua4304x—11120

T. Johnson, Russo (3) and Lawrence; Lamb and Horton. W — Lamb. L — T. Johnson (4-1). 2B — SU: Jenks, Reedy, J. Johnson. 3B — SU: Lamb.

Photo by Denise Baratta. South Medford players react as the game ties 4-4 in the seventh inning Tuesday against Grants Pass.
Photo by Denise Baratta. South Medford's Tanner Douglas takes advantage of a Grants Pass error at second base to advance to third in the fifth inning Tuesday.
Photo by Denise Baratta. South Medford's Carson Joe pitches Tuesday against Grants Pass at Harry & David Field.
Photo by Denise Baratta. Elijah Havey runs to third base on a fielder's choice in the seventh inning. Havey later scored the winning run for South Medford, clinching a 5-4 victory over Grants Pass.
Photo by Denise Baratta. Cameron Sewell pitches for South Medford in the seventh inning Tuesday against Grants Pass.