The top-ranked North Medford baseball team asks a lot of junior Andrew Jones.
If the Black Tornado is handing the ball over for a big game, Jones typically gets the call to duty.
If it needs to get something going offensively, Jones as the No. 3 hitter is sure to be involved.
And to help stabilize an already solid defense, Jones certainly is a calm presence at second base.
It's a lot to ask of one player, but Jones wouldn't have it any other way.
The right-hander got the call Tuesday in the second round of the Class 6A state playoffs, and did not disappoint in allowing only four hits and one earned run in seven innings to lead North Medford to a 4-2 win over No. 10 Lake Oswego.
"I love being put in situations that you have to come through," said Jones, who improved his record to 9-0.
The Black Tornado (24-3) advance to face third-ranked Jesuit in the quarterfinals at 4:30 p.m. Friday at North Medford High. The Crusaders, who beat Tigard 5-4 in eight innings Tuesday, bounced North from the state playoffs last year.
"That's going to be a real big one," Jones said of Friday's game.
Jones spent last summer as one of the top pitchers for the North Medford Mavericks, who finished as runners-up at the American Legion A Northwest Regional. He was tabbed as starting pitcher in the state and regional championship games, and carried that confidence over into Tuesday's contest.
"He's very poised," said North Medford coach Brett Wolfe. "He's been through this whole thing before."
Jones struck out five Lakers (19-7) to offset two walks, and received solid backing with 10 groundball outs and three deep putouts by center fielder Jordan Bostwick.
"We were focused and had a good scouting report," Jones said of Tuesday's outing. "The coaches told us who their strong hitters were and we knew what pitch and when to throw it, so I credit them a lot."
Jones also received a mid-inning adjustment on his mechanics from assistant coach Paul White early in the game after struggling a bit with his curveball, and the results were instant as his command from that point kept the Lakers on their heels.
"His ball actually had a real good downhill plane, which makes it very difficult to pick up," said Wolfe. "He didn't have his curveball working early but because his fastball was down in the zone, he was able to get by that first inning or two."
It also helped that North Medford was able to scratch its way to a run in three of the first four innings.
"As a pitcher, you've got to love pitching for this team," said Jones. "You know they're going to put runs on the board. As long as you can hold (opposing teams) to three runs and under, we've got a real good chance to win."
Bostwick scored the Tornado's first run in the first inning off Three Rivers League pitcher of the year Jared Van Hoon. On a close play at the plate, the junior barrelled through Lake Oswego catcher Jeff Kremer on an RBI single by Logan Odom.
North scored again in the second inning after Aaron Marlia and Zack Earle led off the inning with singles. After a strikeout, Hayden Wolfe grounded into what appeared destined to be an inning-ending double play to third baseman Asai Moto, but second baseman Cam Yates dropped the initial throw to allow Marlia to score.
North made it 3-0 in the fourth inning, when Yates' third error of the game allowed Marlia to reach base on a dropped pop fly. After stealing second, Marlia came around to score on an RBI single by Earle.
Lake Oswego rallied in the fifth on an RBI single by Three Rivers League player of the year Matt Stutes, but the Lakers got a little greedy on the play at the plate and wound up running themselves out of the inning. After Hayden Wolfe's relay from left field bounced off Bruhns, the senior catcher quickly regrouped to throw out Moto at third on a nice short-hop scoop and tag by Earle.
Earle also figured prominently in the sixth inning, committing North's lone error to allow Alex Freeman to reach base as a leadoff batter. Freeman eventually advanced to third base with only one out and scored on a groundout by Bennett Frazier to Earle deep in the hole.
"Zack Earle made the play of the game right there," said coach Wolfe. "If we don't throw that kid out, it's 3-2 and they have the tying run on."
Shea Bedortha allowed North some breathing room in the bottom of the sixth when his two-out triple set the stage for pinch-runner Blake Mitchell to score on a wild pitch by Van Hoon.
Bedortha also made two fine plays at first base to thwart the Lakers in the top of the seventh, with Jones finishing the game in style when Moto couldn't handle a knee-buckling curveball.
Lake Oswego 000 011 0 — 2 4 3
North Medford 110 101 x — 4 7 1
Van Hoon and Kremer; Jones and Bruhns. W — Jones (9-0). L — Van Hoon. 2B — LO: Wesner, Kremer; NM: Odom. 3B — S. Bedortha.
Reach reporter Kris Henry at 776-4488, or e-mail email@example.com