Black Tornado blows into final

TUALATIN — They did it again.

Four days after scoring five runs in their final at-bat to beat No. 3 Jesuit, top-ranked North Medford scored three runs in their final at-bat to beat host Tualatin 8-5 in the semifinals of the Class 6A baseball state playoffs Tuesday.

Senior Darren Bruhns scored the eventual winning run after a passed ball with two out in the seventh and the Tornado added two more insurance runs to support freshman pitcher Matt Maurer, who earned the win in a long relief appearance.

With the win, North (26-3) earned a trip to the state title game Saturday at Volcanoes Stadium in Keizer.

"This is an amazing feeling," Bruhns said. "We're on an emotional roller coaster, especially after that game on Friday."

"This is such a great group, they're really like my own sons," North coach Brett Wolfe said. "I'm tremendously proud to see them get to the state final. They deserve to be here."

North had 10 hits and no errors. Tualatin had eight hits and no errors.

The Tornado will play Westview, an 8-7 winner over West Linn in extra innings Tuesday, in the title game. North Medford will be aiming to win the city's first state title since 1984.

North played its way into trouble in the opening two innings when starting pitcher Andrew Jones gave up five runs in just 11/3 innings. Tualatin catcher John Grill hit a three-run homer in the first inning and the Timberwolves scored twice in the second before Wolfe went to Maurer, who pitched 71/3 innings in the Jesuit game.

Maurer, a lefty, held Tualatin to just three hits thereafter.

"He saved my butt," Jones said. "He had a great performance, just like he did against Jesuit."

"This was my best pitching of the season," Maurer said. "I had my best focus out there on the mound. It's gotta be the playoff pressure that brought it out."

Trailing 5-0, North worked its way back with two runs in the third and three more in the fourth. Sophomore Hayden Wolfe had three RBIs in the two innings. With the score at 5-all, the teams dueled into the seventh, when North got three consecutive one-out singles.

The third single seemed destined to score the sophomore Wolfe from second, but a strong throw nailed him at home. That left Bruhns at third, talking to his head coach.

"I told him I was gonna get in there," Bruhns said. On the second pitch, the ball got past Grill and Bruhns raced home for a 6-5 lead. Jordan Bostwick and Jones also scored.

Tualatin had the tying run at the plate with two out in the seventh, but a ground out ended the game and started a wild celebration.

"I hate being ahead 5-0," Grill said after the game. "I'd rather be ahead 2-1 or be tied at that part of the game.

"We thought we had them and then some momentum switched and it was hard to get it back."

Despite being shelled, Jones is the likely starter for Saturday's final, Brett Wolfe said.

"He's our guy," Bruhns said. "He'll get his confidence back and he'll be back."

North Medford 002 300 3 — 8 10 0

Tualatin 320 000 0 — 5 8 0

Jones, Maurer (2) and Bruhns; Lambson and Grill. W — Maurer (7-2). L — Lambson. 2B — NM: Bruhns, Odom, Wolfe; T: Ma. Lambson. HR — T: Grill.

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