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PREP ROUNDUP: Ashland falls short against South

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6A Panthers use third-inning surge to separate from 5A Grizzlies

Ashland baseball coach Nick Hall wanted to see exactly where his Grizzlies were at as they gear up for what he hopes will be a long run in the Class 5A state playoffs.

Featuring some good as well as some room for improvement, Ashland got just that in a 6-1 setback against South Medford at North Mountain Park on Wednesday.

The Panthers (19-3), ranked No. 7 in the 6A coaches poll, played as the home team after the game originally set to be played at Harry & David Field was moved to Ashland earlier in the day. It was the 10th straight win for South Medford, while Ashland dropped to 15-5 overall.

“I think we need to see those good teams and get those kind of looks at it as a test for us just to see where we’re at when it comes to competing,” said Hall, whose team is No. 8 in the 5A coaches poll. “We’ve got playoff games to look forward to in a couple weeks and obviously they’re pretty tough and their lineup is tough top to bottom.”

Ashland opened the scoring in the third inning, with Ben Bleicker drawing a one-out walk and advancing to third on a single by Keller Bloodworth and walk to Elam Wright that loaded the bases against South Medford starter Kyle Cope. Jackson Rosenthal supplied a sacrifice fly to center field to make it 1-0 in favor of the Grizzlies, but Cope induced another flyout by Jackson Kemper to limit the threat.

That proved to be the story of the day for Ashland, which was unable to string together hits to put further pressure on the Panthers. A combination of Cope, Jackson Robertson and Tristan Mallari limited the Grizzlies to four total hits.

“Honestly, when we are doing our best, we’re able to manufacture some stuff and get momentum going that way,” said Hall. “If we’re forced to get a few hits in a row — like we needed today — that’s really when we struggle, so we’re just trying to figure out ways of getting guys on early in the inning to give us an opportunity rather than with one or two outs.”

South Medford was able to do exactly what Hall aspires for his Grizzlies to accomplish when the Panthers provided an immediate answer in the bottom of the third. South was able to break the game open with three runs on four of the Panthers’ five hits to go with a walk.

“We had a good answer there in that bottom half and ended up winning that inning,” said South Medford coach Josh Moody. “I’m always talking to my guys about winning the inning and that even if they score, it doesn’t mean you can’t go out and win that inning.”

After a one-out walk to Cope, Cameron Sewell deposited a pitch by Rosenthal into left center for South’s first hit of the game.

Evan Rhoden then came on in relief of Rosenthal but Jace Miller blooped a single over the shortstop to load the bases and then Tanner Douglas followed with a go-ahead two-run single to right field.

“Tanner had a really good at-bat,” said Moody. “He got down 0-2 and fouled off three pitches and it ended up being 2-2 before he got a pitch that he could put in play and drove it to right field for a two-run single.”

Miller was thrown out at home trying to score on the play from first, but an ensuing RBI single by Elijah Havey allowed the Panthers to boost their advantage to 3-1.

South Medford tacked on another run in the fourth when Carson Joe scored on a fielder’s choice by Robertson. The Panthers later scored two more insurance runs in the fifth inning after Miller came home on an error and Havey scored following a single by Kaleb Long.

“They just did a good job of taking advantage of every little thing that we gave them,” said Hall, who was otherwise pleased with the pitching turned in by Rosenthal, Rhoden, Gabe Brabec and Bloodworth.

Added Moody: “(Ashland’s) got some good young arms that Nick ran out there. It was a good test for us.”

“On our end it was really good to get some of our top guys up there to face the top of part of their lineup,” continued Hall. “That’s as good of a top part of a lineup as we’ll see, so we can take some positives out of that. Offensively, though, we’ve got some work to do.”

Ashland plays a doubleheader at Willamette on Saturday before wrapping up Midwestern League play with two games next week at Crater. The Grizzlies are in a second-place tie with the Wolverines at 10-2 in MWL play.

South Medford has its own big weekend to prepare for, with the Panthers playing a doubleheader at Grants Pass with Southwest Conference title implications. South Medford and Roseburg are tied 10-3 in the SWC, with the Cavemen striving to shake things up and clinch a potential playoff berth.

“We gave ourselves the chance to be here and that’s all you can ask for,” said Moody. “We’re looking forward to Saturday. Obviously, Grants Pass is fighting for a playoff spot and playoff rankings so it’s a couple of big games for them as well, so we expect them to be good games.”

Ashland0010000—143

South Medford003120x—650

Rosenthal, Rhoden (3), Brabec (5), Bloodworth (6) and Wright; Cope, Robertson (4), Mallari (7) and Long. W — Robertson. L — Rosenthal.

HIDDEN VALLEY 18, PHOENIX 1, 5 inn.: At Murphy, second-ranked Hidden Valley took advantage of multiple Phoenix defensive miscues to pull away in a 14-run fourth inning and hand the Pirates their eighth straight Skyline Conference loss.

Phoenix (6-15, 4-9 Skyline) scored its lone run in the top of the fourth when Julius Bolstad knocked in Ryan Watts on a groundout.

Hidden Valley (21-2, 11-2) limited Phoenix to two hits — a double by Andrew Hull and a single by Chance Sherrell.

Nate Vidlak earned the win on the mound, and accounted for two of Hidden Valley’s six extra-base hits.

Phoenix00010—125

Hidden Valley220(14)x—18121

Hull, Sousa (4) and Shilts; Vidlak, Matthew (5) and Elzy. W — Vidlak. L — Hull. 2B — P: Hull; HV: Vidlak, Kennedy 2. 3B — HV: Vidlak, Zehe. HR — HV: Stone.

Softball

HIDDEN VALLEY 11, PHOENIX 1, 5 inn.: At Murphy, Raelyssa Goff walked and scored on a passed ball in the first inning but Phoenix could only muster two hits against Briella Jacob in dropping the Skyline Conference contest.

Paityn Croy had a double in the second inning and Carsyn Gallegos singled in the fourth for the Pirates (8-14, 6-7 Skyline).

Jianna Bents went 3-for-4 with a three-run triple in the first inning and Bailey Sandquist also drove in three runs, highlighted by a two-run double for Hidden Valley (10-10, 7-6). Georgia Beck also went 2-for-3 with two RIBs for the Mustangs.

Phoenix10000—121

Hidden Valley42212—1180

Goff and Gilmore; Jacob and Bents. W — Jacob. L — Goff. 2B — P: Croy; HV: Sandquist. 3B — HV: Bents.

Girls Golf

SWC/MVC REGIONALS: At McKenzie Bridge, South Medford’s Claire Spence and North Medford’s Hailie Kelton qualified for state based on their season totals and finished among the top 15 individuals during the regional tournament Tuesday at Tokatee Golf Club.

Sheldon’s Corinne Lillywhite earned medalist honors at the regional with a 74, and the Irish finished as the tourney champs to join regular-season champion Grants Pass at next week’s Class 6A state tournament.

Spence, a sophomore, posted a 108 to finish 13th, one spot ahead of Kelton, also a sophomore, at 109.

TEAM SCORES: Sheldon 380, Bend 400, Sprague 417, West Salem 430, North Medford 461.

INDIVIDUAL RESULTS (Top 5): 1, Corinne Lillywhite, Sheldon, 74; T2, Makai Kalberg, Bend, and Madelyn Dustin, South Salem, 79; 4, Thyra Altvatter, Mountain View, 85; 5, Madalyn Neufeld, Sprague, 92.

Local Scores

NORTH MEDFORD (461): Hailie Kelton 109, Avery Clark 111, Aaliyah Rojas-Andrade 120, Aubrielle Sherbourne 121.

SOUTH MEDFORD (INC): Claire Spence 108, Avery Allred 113.

4A/3A/2A/1A DISTRICT 3: At Bandon, St. Mary’s senior Riley Hammericksen finished runner-up in the individual competition but joined junior Brigit O’Connell in helping power the Crusaders to the team title in the district championship at Bandon Crossings Golf Club on Tuesday.

Hammericksen held the individual lead after posting a 75 on Day 1 but Marist’s Sandhya Vaikuntam matched that total on Day 2 to pull off a comeback for medalist honors. Vaikuntam finished at 152 over the two days, while Hammericksen came in at 156.

O’Connell placed fourth overall at 171 and the Crusaders also saw sophomore Chelsea Horn finish seventh (190) and junior Lucy Maxwell wind up 11th (205) to round out the St. Mary’s effort. The Crusaders finished with a two-day total of 722 to edge Marist by eight strokes for the team crown.

Ruby Rector finished 13th with a 209 to pace Phoenix.

TEAM SCORES (Top 2): St. Mary’s 363-359—722, Marist 376-354 730.

INDIVIDUAL RESULTS (Top 5): 1, Sandhya Vaikuntam, Marist, 77-75—152; 2, Riley Hammericksen, St. Mary’s, 75-81—156; 3, Esha Reddy, Marist, 87-80—167; 4, Brigit O’Connell, St. Mary’s, 89-82—171; 5, Jazzmine Diaz, Hidden Valley, 89-92—181.

Local Scores

ST. MARY’S (722): Riley Hammericksen 75-81—156, Brigit O’Connell 89-82—171, Chelsea Horn 96-94—190, Lucy Maxwell 103-102—205.

PHOENIX (1,062): Ruby Rector 102-107—209, Ava Robinson 128-137—265, Ami Safaoy 144-140—284, Lily Bulux 154-151—304.

ROGUE RIVER (1,276): Isabelle Yauch 125-123—248, Rebecca Waldo 158-158—316, Klover Heffley 167-153—320, Sophia Dame 206-186—392.

Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneAshland's Elam Wright tags out South Medford's Jace Miller at home plate in the bottom of the third inning.
Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneSouth Medford's Jace Miller dives into second base during the fifth inning against Ashland on Wednesday.
Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneSouth Medford's Elijah Havey connects for an RBI at North Mountain Park in Ashland Wednesday.
Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneSouth Medford second baseman Cameron Sewell makes a play for an out during the sixth inning.
Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneSouth Medford's Kaleb Long tags out Ashland's Tripp Repp trying to steal home during the fourth inning.
Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneSouth Medford shortstop Jace Miller makes a play for an out during the fifth inning.