Panthers pull off upset of Westview

Almost two weeks ago, South Medford wasn't certain it would even advance into the Class 6A state baseball playoffs.

The Panthers rescued their postseason hopes by salvaging the second-game of a doubleheader against Grants Pass in the final Southwest Conference contest.

On Friday, South Medford did what no other squad in school history has accomplished — reaching the state semifinals with a shocking 11-6 victory at Tigard High School over sixth-ranked Westview, a team the Panthers lost to 13-3 earlier in the season.

"The talk was we didn't even deserve to be in the playoffs," said South Medford first-year coach Ray Smith. "We've showed if you play the game right you give yourself a chance and good things can happen.

"The last couple of weeks, we've established a confidence level with our backs to the wall coming down the stretch."

Now the Panthers (15-12), the No. 3 seed from the SWC, will host either second-ranked Lake Oswego or No. 4 Tualatin in the semifinals at Harry & David Field on Tuesday. Lake Oswego and Tualatin play their quarterfinal round game today.

Probably the key to the Panthers' victory was getting off to a good start against Wildcat starter Zack Reser.

South Medford took a 2-0 lead in the first inning. Brandon Dollarhide opened the game with a single, was sacrificed to second by Josh Havird and scored on Dylan Albertson's RBI double down the rightfield line. Albertson went to third on an errant throw on the play and scored on a ground out by Kyle Seutter.

The second inning really established the Panthers' chances when they sent 11 batters to the plate and scored six runs to go up 8-0. The big hit was a bases-loaded double by Ryan Wellock that scored three runs.

"To jump on them that early settled us down a little bit," said Smith. "These kids have not been in this situation before. To answer with six runs in the second made us believe we could win this game. We settled down and made the plays from there."

Probably the biggest play was a double play to quell Westview's three-run outburst in the fourth inning.

South starting pitcher, sophomore Sean Pearson, lost his control by walking four straight batters after getting the first out in the fourth. Reliable Andrew Phillips was summoned in relief, but the first batter, Carson Kelley, hit a two-run single up the middle to cut Westview's deficit to 8-5.

Then Corey Smith hit a hard shot to second baseman Havird, which was turned into a double play.

"It was huge to get out of that inning with only three runs," said the Panthers' coach. "I thought there might be a lot more in that situation. We knew Westview would make a run. There were a couple of tense moments when we thought they might jump back in the game."

Phillips, who has settled into his relief role after being a spot starter earlier in the season, retired the Wildcats in order in the fifth and again in the seventh.

Dylan Albertson went 3-for-3 with three RBIs and scored two runs to pace South.

South Medford 260 003 0 — 11 12 2

Westview 002 301 0 — 6 6 2

Pearson, Phillips (4) and Fitzsimmons; Reser, Kelley (2) and White. W — Phillips (7-3). L — Reser. 2B — SM: Dollarhide, Wellock, D. Albertson; W: Smith.

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