Brett Wolfe doesn't pay much attention to state rankings. If he did, the North Medford baseball coach would have realized there was added significance to his team's nonconference doubleheader sweep of Tualatin Thursday.
North Medford is ranked No. 1 in the coaches' poll, and it defeated No. 3 Tualatin, 9-3 and 7-0, getting complete game pitching efforts from Andrew Jones and Zack Earle.
Wolfe was happy to hear of the rankings but allowed, "It only matters at the end. We were just excited to play ... We knew they were a good club, and we wanted the chance to compete against them."
The Black Tornado, like most teams around the state, has had its season open in fits and starts due to rainy weather. Still, it improved to 5-0 with its first home games and has two more slated Saturday, beginning at noon against Wilson.
North broke out new uniforms for its home opener and was "still pulling price tags off," said Wolfe.
In a sense, they unwrapped something else in Earle. The senior starting shortstop has worked with the pitchers for four years under Wolfe, but this marked his first start.
In the second game, Earle gave up five hits, struck out three and didn't walk anyone. He didn't give up more than one hit in an inning and didn't face more than four batters in a frame.
He had been groomed to fill in in relief and to spot start, and this chance came as front-line starter Matt Maurer patiently works his way into form following basketball.
"We don't like to take him out of his shortstop spot because he plays so well," said Wolfe. "But he throws the ball about 81 or 82 (mph), throws it at the knees on the black and has a nasty curveball and nice change-up.
"We wanted to look at him anyway as a starter. It was good for us."
North scratched across a couple of runs in the early going against heralded Mitch Lambson, then broke loose for five in the sixth inning to settle matters.
Lambson, a hard-throwing left-hander, is headed to Arizona State.
In the second, Jones reached on an error and scored following singles by Kody Stevens, Blake Mitchell and Maurer.
In the third, Hayden Wolfe walked and later scored on a sacrifice fly by Colin Sowers.
In the sixth, Maurer had a two-run single and Earle tripled in another run.
Maurer, who finished with three RBIs, Mitchell and Bostwick each had two hits.
In Game 1, Jones (2-0) was sharp as well, utilizing his three pitches effectively in scattering six hits and giving up only one earned run. He struck out six and walked two.
A six-run second inning gave the Tornado plenty of cushion.
Stevens had a two-run double and Jones a two-run single in the frame.
Sowers was 3-for-4, Jones had two hits and four RBIs and Stevens two hits and three RBIs.
Tualatin 000 001 2 — 3 6 1
North Medford 060 102 x —9 11 3
Ma. Lambson, George (5) and Grill, Popma (6); Jones and Sowers. W — Jones (2-0). L — Ma. Lambson. 2B — NM: Wolfe, Stevens, Sowers.
Tualatin 000 000 0 — 0 5 3
North Medford 011 005 x — 7 10 2
Mi. Lambson, Pas (6) and Grill; Earle and Sowers. W — Earle (1-0). L — Lambson. 2B — T: McPherson, NM: Bostwick, Mitchell. 3B — T: Symonds, NM: Earle.
COACH BOB NATIONAL INVITATIONAL — At Anthem, Ariz., South Medford split a pair of games against two Colorado schools, defeating Centaurus 20-4 and losing to Wheat Ridge 8-3.
The Panthers had 14 hits in the five-inning Game 1 against Centaurus, led by Bo Walker's 3-for-3 effort. Steven Lines was 3-for-5 and Josh Camp and Brent Reordan were both 2-for-3 with two RBIs. A.J. Palazzolo was 2-for-4 with three RBIs and D.J. Titus was 2-for-5 with two RBIs.
South (5-3) scored 12 runs against three Centaurus pitchers in the first inning.
Lines was 2-for-4 with two RBIs in Game 2 but Wheat Ridge took advantage of eight hits and five Panther errors to get the win.
South is 3-3 at the 35-team Coach Bob National Invitational and faces Lewis Palmer (Colo.) at 8 a.m. today in the finale.
South Medford (12)24 02 — 20 14 0
Centaurus 000 04 — 4 5 7
Rolie, Titus (4), Palazzolo (5) and Reordan; Matosky, Allan (1), Dias (1), Torres (3) and Dondelinger. W — Rolie (2-0). L — Matosky. 2B — SM: Walker, Camp, Reordan. C: Schrader (2).
South Medford 000 201 0 — 3 6 5
Wheat Ridge 120 311 x — 8 8 2
Boyd, Palazzolo (4) and Williamson; Land, Nelson (7) and Trione. W — Land. L — Boyd (0-1). 2B — SM: Reordan. WR: Orms, Bauer.
GRANTS PASS 3-6, GLENCOE 1-5 — At Grants Pass, Grants Pass (3-1) earned victories in a pair of closely contested nonconference games.
Brock Dean drove in two runs with a double in the sixth inning to break a 1-1 tie in the first game, and Zach Morgan pitched the entire way, holding Glencoe to five hits while striking out eight.
Buddy Saxon was the hero in Game 2 on a wild play in the seventh inning with the score knotted at 5-5. Saxon led off with a triple to right-center field and the cutoff throw to third hit Saxon's helmet as he was sliding, sending the ball into the dugout and allowing him to score the winning run.
Grants Pass' Ryan Miller was 2-for-4 in the game, also with a triple.
Brandon Drury had a solo home run for the Cavemen in the first game.
Glencoe 010 000 0 — 1 5 0
Grants Pass 000 102 0 — 3 4 2
Burke, Heck (5) and See; Morgan and Saxon. W — Morgan (1-0) L — Heck. 2B — GP: Dean. HR — GP: Drury.
Glencoe 120 200 0 — 5 7 3
Grants Pass 320 000 1 — 6 6 0
Bond, Miller (3), Johnson (5) and Coussens; Nickleson and Saxon. W — Nickleson (2-0). L — Johnson. 2B — GL: Dempster, Degener. 3B — GP: Miller, Saxon.
TILLAMOOK 1, ILLINOIS VALLEY 0 — At Cave Junction, Illinois Valley managed just three hits in the nonconference loss.
The Cougars (2-3) threatened to tie the game in the sixth inning, pushing a runner to third base before the rally stalled.
Alex Bergman led Illinois Valley with two hits.
Tillamook 000 010 0 — 1 6 3
Illinois Valley 000 000 0 — 0 3 3
Ouverson and Stray; Anderson, Escealante (4), Carlton (6), Anderson (7) and Miles, Bergman (5). W — Ouverson. L — Escealante.
SOUTH UMPQUA 8-1, ROGUE RIVER 0-2 — At Rogue River, a 16-day layoff for Rogue River showed in the opening game of a doubleheader, but the Chieftains managed the nonconference split.
Rogue River (2-1) committed four errors and gave up 12 hits in an 8-0 loss in Game 1.
Kelly White led Rogue River by going 2-for-3.
In Game 2, the Chieftains scored two runs in the bottom of the seventh to earn the win.
Chris Burman reached on an error to start the seventh, pinch hitter Ty Darr singled and Christian Reyes laid down a sacrifice bunt to move the runners into scoring position. Burman scored on a wild pitch, and pinch runner Craig Lee scored the winning run on a sacrifice fly by Carson Frantz.
South Umpqua 003 113 0 — 8 12 0
Rogue River 000 000 0 — 0 5 4
Younker and Clack; Frantz, Burman (6) and Lee. W — Younker. L — Frantz (1-1). 2B — SU: Pettibone, Murphy. HR — SU: Cupp.
South Umpqua 000 001 0 — 1 6 0
Rogue River 000 000 2 — 2 9 2
Kennedy and Clack; Gardner and Lee. W — Gardner (1-0). L — Kennedy.
Les Schwab Tournament
WILLAMETTE 10, CASCADE CHRISTIAN 0 — At John Day, Kevan Neuhoff allowed two hits in four innings as Willamette blanked Cascade Christian on the opening day of the Les Schwab Tournament.
Jeremy Cheney allowed four hits and one earned run while striking out two in three innings for the Challengers (5-2). Cheney and Colton Cochran had the only two singles of the game for Cascade Christian.
Cascade Christian faces Molalla at 11 a.m. today as the tournament continues.
Cascade Christian 000 00 — 0 2 1
Willamette 102 25 — 10 7 2
Cheney, Artelle (4), Thomas (5) and Banks. Neuhoff, Hughes (5) and Quesenberry. W — Neuhoff. L — Cheney (2-1). 2B —W: Quesenberry. 3B — W: Maahs.