PREP BASEBALL: Panthers sweep series with Tornado
It took nearly three hours but the end result was definitely worth the wait for the 10th-ranked South Medford baseball team Saturday, with the Panthers holding on for an 8-6 win over host North Medford in a nail-biter to open a Southwest Conference doubleheader.
South Medford went on to secure a sweep of the Black Tornado in the three-game series between the crosstown rivals in Game 2 with a 6-0 triumph.
“I’ve got a lot of respect for their ballclub and how they play the game,” Panthers coach Josh Moody of North Medford said. “Anytime you get in a rivalry game, you never know what’s going to happen, so getting two wins on the road was huge for us today.”
The opening game featured a top-tier pitching matchup between South Medford’s Tanner Douglas and North Medford’s Trey Newmann, but each player made the most noise early in the batter’s box.
Douglas supplied a two-run double in the top of the first inning to help the Panthers (14-3, 6-3 SWC) build an early lead. After Aiden Horsley singled and eventually scored on a passed ball that featured a pileup at the plate with Douglas, Newmann ripped a two-run single to put momentum back on the side of the Black Tornado (9-11, 3-6).
“We did all that with two outs and I thought gave our kids confidence to win the game,” said North Medford coach Kerry Curtis, “but we struggle at times when we lose momentum and can’t get it back, and that happened again a little today.”
Each pitcher tossed a scoreless second inning, but Douglas was back at it again in the third, following singles by Cameron Sewell and Jace Miller with another two-run double to put South Medford back in the driver’s seat.
“We kind of didn’t look back from there,” said Moody, whose team went on to lead 7-3 through 5 1/2 innings.
“It’s always nice to have a two-way guy like that,” the coach added of Douglas. “When your ace on the mound is also your No. 3 hitter and he’s on base at over .650 on the season, that’s a guy who helps you win games. Tanner’s our senior leader and catalyst and I don’t think we get to here without him.”
Miller’s two-run single in the fourth and RBI walks drawn by Sewell and Miller in the fifth allowed the Panthers to build their biggest advantage, but North absolutely wasn’t going to give in without a fight.
Horsley’s RBI single in the fifth instantly got a run back for the Black Tornado, and an RBI single by Johnny King in the sixth made it 7-5. Horsley injured his hamstring on his fifth-inning single and tried to play through it before ultimately having to leave the game in the sixth inning.
“That’s a big loss for us,” said Curtis, adding that the junior standout may be sidelined for the rest of the season. “He’s solid at the plate and in the outfield for us and is one of our main pitchers so that’s gonna hurt.”
South Medford was able to load the bases again in the seventh inning and get an RBI groundout from Douglas for a little cushion that became all that more important as North chipped away in the home half of the seventh.
Davis Carr plated a run in the seventh with a one-out single on the first pitch from Sewell in relief and, after Kellen Willer was hit by a pitch, suddenly the Black Tornado had the tying runs on base. Undaunted, Sewell settled in and struck out Aidan Becksted to clinch a marathon opener that lasted nearly three hours for his fourth save.
“We did a really good job of just competing and not being complacent with a lead,” Moody noted. “We ended up adding a few runs on there and in the seventh they had the winning run at the plate so getting those extra runs were definitely huge.”
King and Newmann each finished with two hits for North in the opener, while Sewell went 3-for-4 to pace South.
In Game 2, Sewell allowed only two hits in a complete-game shutout in his first start this spring. The junior right-hander struck out five with no walks in 84 pitches.
Frankie Rutigliano had a single in the first inning and Colton Morgan singled in the second for the Tornado.
“We had three baserunners the whole second game,” said Curtis. “It’s pretty tough to get anything accomplished when you have three baserunners. We’re not going to make any excuses on our end, we just need to play better.”
“We’re kind of a Jekyll and Hyde team right now and it’s which team is going to show up,” added the coach. “We showed against Summit last week (in a 4-3 win) how good of a team we can be, we just need to be more consistent.”
Jackson Robertson doubled off the left field wall in the third inning and went on to score the game’s first run when a relay throw to try and nab him at second base went off target and Robertson wound up safe on a play at the plate.
Cooper Mitchell later drew a bases-loaded walk in the fourth, Sewell slapped a two-run single and Douglas was hit by a pitch to plate another run for a 5-0 advantage.
South tallied its final run in the seventh behind a leadoff double by Douglas, an error and a double play that Douglas scored on.
Douglas, Joe (6), Sewell (7) and Havey; Newmann, King (5) and Robbins. W — Douglas (4-1). L — Newmann. S — Sewell (4). 2B — SM: Douglas 2; NM: Robbins.
Sewell and Long, Havey (7); Rutigliano, Carr (4) and Robbins. W — Sewell (1-0). L — Rutigliano. 2B — SM: Robertson, Douglas.
ASHLAND 10-4, SPRINGFIELD 5-2: At Springfield, Ashland starting pitchers Gabe Brabec and Evan Rhoden combined for 22 strikeouts in a pair of complete-game efforts to help the Grizzlies keep pace in the race for the Midwestern League title.
Brabec struck out 13 as he allowed six hits and three earned runs in the opener, while Rhoden followed it up with a nine-strikeout performance, scattering four hits and allowing a pair of runs.
Keller Bloodworth hit a three-run triple as part of a seven-run second for Ashland (15-3, 10-2) in Game 1. Tripp Repp went 3-for-4 with two RBIs in the opener, while adding a second double on the day and an RBI in Game 2.
Mateo Moore had an RBI in both games, while Jackson Kemper scored a pair of runs in Game 1.
Roemen, Leas (3) and Vest; Brabec and Wright. W — Brabec. L — Roemen. 2B — S: Oviatt, Vest; A: Repp. 3B — A: Bloodworth. HR — S: Sattler.
Hinton, Laird (2) and Vest; Rhoden and Wright. W — Rhoden. L — Hinton. 2B — A: Repp.
MAZAMA 4-10, PHOENIX 2-2: At Klamath Falls, Phoenix starters Karver Wolowicz and Julius Bolstad both struck out eight but the Pirates’ offense could only muster a pair of runs in both ends of the Skyline doubleheader.
Wolowicz allowed five hits while walking two in Game 1, while Bolstad limited Mazama (11-8, 7-2 Skyline) to four hits.
Jackson Shilts had a pair of hits in each game, while driving in one of the Pirates’ runs in the nightcap. Chance Sherrell and Cory Cunningham both had two hits in the opener for Phoenix (6-10, 4-4).
Andrew Hull was 2-for-4 with an RBI and Ryan Watts had a triple and reached base four times in Game 2.
Wolowicz and Hull; Ford, Doss (4) and McGuire. W — Doss. L — Wolowicz. 2B — P: Sherrell; M: Bolanos, Hubble.
Bolstad, Sousa (6) and Hull; Davis and McGuire. W — Davis. L — Bolstad. 2B — P: Wolowicz; M: Davis, Bolanos, Raebel, Doss, Heaton. 3B — P: Watts.