Jones sparks Tornado to road romp

There's no denying that Andrew Jones is a competitor, so when the North Medford High senior gave up a home run and, a few batters later, fell behind 2-0 to Reynolds High on Wednesday — you just knew he'd find a way to answer back.

Sure enough, Jones blasted a three-run home run in his next at-bat to kick off an unbelievable scoring surge that saw North Medford turn a 2-0 deficit into a 15-2 triumph during the second round of the Class 6A baseball state playoffs.

Jones finished the game 2-for-4 with five RBIs and struck out a season-high 10 batters to improve his record to 10-0 despite rainy and cold conditions at Reynolds Middle School in Gresham.

"I was really excited for him to jump back in there and bring the game back to us at 3-2 with the home run," said North Medford coach Brett Wolfe. "I was happy for him as well as all the other seniors who get to play another game."

The top-ranked and defending champion Black Tornado (26-2) will next play host to South Salem in Friday's quarterfinals. South Salem beat Beaverton 3-0 on Tuesday in the second round.

Wolfe said he set up the pitching rotation to ensure that Jones would be the one to face a road game, leaning on the senior's experience and gritty determination.

"He's always around the plate and that gives us a chance to get outs and go swing the bat, and that's exactly what he did today," said Wolfe.

North Medford stranded three runners in the first two innings, and Reynolds (15-10) capitalized on a couple misplaced pitches by Jones in the second inning. Shortstop Taylor Gibbs smacked a solo homer — only the fourth allowed by North pitchers all season — and Jeremy Morrow followed with a two-out double and scored on a single by Cody Cook.

Instead of pressing, the Black Tornado remained calm and simply did what it does best in the top of the third.

"You can't change your approach and we've worked on that all year because a lot of things can happen in a baseball game," said Wolfe. "Baseball's not a game where you can play tense or frustrated, especially swinging the bat, so we just took a really calm approach."

Hayden Wolfe opened the frame by reaching safely on a throwing error by Gibbs, and Jordan Bostwick followed with an infield single. Jones then came up and sent an 0-2 pitch by Cody Ching over the fence in right-center field for his first home run of the season.

"(Ching) left it up and (Jones) took it the other way and it kinda took the wind out of his sail," the coach said of the Reynolds starter. "You could see the pitcher's body language change and from there we just took off."

Kody Stevens followed with a single and, after a fly ball out, Blake Mitchell singled to keep things moving. Matt Maurer then punched an RBI single into the outfield but Mitchell was thrown out trying to advance to third. Chris Bradshaw then singled to put runners on the corners and, when Bradshaw took off for second on a stolen base attempt, Cook's throw from behind the plate sailed into center field to allow Maurer to score.

Zack Earle then drew a walk and Wolfe reached on an infield single to load the bases. Bradshaw scored on an errant pickoff attempt at third by Cook to cap the inning and give North a 6-2 advantage.

The Tornado tacked on four more runs in the top of the fourth — highlighted by Colin Sowers' first home run this season and a two-run double by Earle. Bostwick added a two-run single in a five-run sixth inning to help put away the Raiders, the No. 3 seed out of the Mount Hood Conference.

North Medford posted season-highs in hits (20) and runs (15), with Maurer going 4-for-4, Mitchell 3-for-4 and Earle 3-for-4 with three RBIs to lead the way. Bradshaw was 2-for-3 with three runs scored, Bostwick 2-for-5 with two RBIs and Wolfe 2-for-5.

Earle and Bradshaw also helped Jones' cause by turning a pair of double plays with Stevens at first base.

North Medford 006 405 0 — 15 20 0

Reynolds 020 000 0 — 2 6 3

Jones and Sowers; Ching, Swanson (4) and Cook. W — Jones (10-0). L — Ching. 2B — NM: Earle; R: Morrow. HR — NM: Jones (1), Sowers (1); R: Gibbs.

Reach reporter Kris Henry at 776-4488, or e-mail

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