SALEM — Destiny was in the South Medford dugout during a Class 6A opening-round state playoff baseball game Saturday.
There were plenty of heroics to go around as the Panthers outlasted North Salem 7-5 in 14 innings in a cold, wet ballgame at sloppy Barrick Field.
The victory gives South Medford (13-12), the Southwest Conference No. 3 seed, a second-round home game at 4 p.m. Tuesday at Harry & David Field against Wilson. The Trojans (13-14), the PIL runner-up, defeated McMinnville 10-3 in the opening round on Friday.
The Panthers used strong pitching performances from Sean Pearson and Andrew Phillips, a game-tying pinch-hit home run from Cody Albertson and clutch fielding from shortstop Ryan Wellock to register their first playoff victory since 2006.
"We had to battle the elements and a good team," said South Medford first-year coach Ray Smith. "It was a back-and-forth game from the start. We settled down and got after it. We made a lot of great defensive plays to finish out the ballgame in a difficult environment."
The Panthers were down to their last strike when Albertson cracked a 2-2 pitch for a two-run homer over the 370-foot mark in left-center field to cap a three-run rally and even the score at 4-all in the seventh.
"Everybody in the park knew that ball was gone," said Smith. "He crushed it. It was a no-doubter."
Neither team scored again until South Medford pushed across a run in the 13th inning when Ryan Kuykendall singled to left with two outs and Austin Reames brought him home with a double. Reames was thrown out trying to stretch the hit into a triple to end the Panthers' at-bat.
But Central Valley League player of the year Cole Ferguson opened the bottom of the 13th with a home run over the center field fence to knot the score 5-5.
The Panthers responded in the 14th when Casey Kline was hit by a pitch to start the frame and Wellock executed a sacrifice bunt. Brandon Dollarhide legged out a bunt single and moved to second on a steal to put runners at second and third with one out. Josh Havird's groundout scored Kline, and Dollarhide went to third. Dylan Albertson followed with an infield single to the hole on the left side that brought home Dollarhide and gave South Medford a 7-5 lead.
The Panthers had to sweat out the bottom of the inning when North Salem put runners on second and third with one out, but Phillips induced a pair of groundballs that Wellock took care of to end the game.
South starter Pearson threw 138 pitches in 10 complete innings. The junior right-hander allowed six hits, struck out eight and surrendered one earned run. Phillips closed out the game by just giving up one run.
"Pearson gave us a chance to win," said Smith. "And Andrew has always responded in tough spots all year long. He threw strikes and made them put the ball in play."
Kuykendall, the only Panther batter with two hits, went 2-for-3.
"I used 17 kids and pulled out every card we had," said Smith. "We used all our nine lives today."
South Medford 000 010 300 000 12 — 7 10 3
North Salem 000 301 000 000 10 — 5 11 7
Pearson, Phillips (11) and Fitzsimmons; Hamilton, Rodriguez (11) and Ferguson. W — Phillips (5-3). L — Rodriguez. 2B — SM: Reames; NS: Gallasko, Hamilton, Madden. HR — SM: C. Albertson (2); NS: Ferguson.
GRANTS PASS 3, FOREST GROVE 2 — At Forest Grove, senior Brandon Drury hit the go-ahead home run to lead off the seventh and pitched the last 11/3 innings to pick up the win for Grants Pass in the Class 6A state playoff game.
The Cavemen (12-16), the Southwest Conference's No. 4 seed, survived Forest Grove's sixth-inning rally to earn a second-round road trip to fifth-ranked Barlow (23-3) on Tuesday.
Drury went 2-for-4 with an RBI and scored twice, Brock Dean went 2-for-3 with a solo homer and Tyler Spencer went 2-for-4 with an RBI to lead Grants Pass' 11-hit attack.
For Forest Grove (14-12), David Makus went 1-for-3 with an RBI double in the sixth that helped the Vikings tie the game after a 45-minute rain delay.
Spencer started for the Cavemen on the mound and surrendered two runs on three hits in 52/3 innings. He struck out nine.
Forest Grove pitcher Eric Huson went the distance, striking out three without a walk.
Grants Pass 001 010 1 — 3 11 1
Forest Grove 000 002 0 — 2 3 0
Spencer, Drury (6) and Brown; Huson and Bohanan. W — Drury (6-2). L — Huson. 2B — GP: Drury, Cantiello; FG: Makus. HR — GP: Drury (3), Dean (4).
ROSEBURG 17, CENTENNIAL 2 — At Roseburg, Josh Graham, Derek Priestley and Micah Audiss all hit two-run home runs and pitcher Brandon Jackson recorded 12 strikeouts as top-ranked Roseburg dismantled Centennial (11-16) in a Class 6A state playoff game at Legion Field.
All three of the Indians' homers came in the fifth inning, when Roseburg recorded 11 runs on eight hits.
Jackson, who improved to 8-1, allowed five hits, two unearned runs and three walks.
Vince Ampi was 2-for-3 with two doubles and four RBIs and Johnny Farrington added a two-run triple for Roseburg (22-2), which hosts Clackamas (20-6) on Tuesday.
Centennial 000 020 0 — 2 5 3
Roseburg 100 4(11)1 x — 17 14 1
Nickerson, Lewis (3), Chandler (4), Hopps (5), Wolf (6) and Bell; Jackson and Ampi. W — Jackson (8-1). L — Nickerson. 2B — R: Ampi 2, Priestley. 3B — R: Farrington. HR — R: Graham, Priestley, Audiss.
Class 4A Baseball
PHOENIX 6, TAFT 3 — At McMinnville, Justin Bohn had quite a day for Phoenix in an opening-round playoff victory that was moved from Taft's home field in Lincoln City because of wet conditions.
Bohn went 4-for-4, scored three runs, stole three bases and had one RBI. Additionally, the junior closed out the game with 11/3 innings of shutout relief.
Tim Keith was sharp on the mound in just his third varsity start for the Pirates (16-10). The sophomore left-hander struck out nine in 52/3 innings and allowed one earned run.
Phoenix got off to a good start by scoring two runs in the first inning. Bohn opened the game with a single and stole second. Kameron Kaufman delivered a one-out RBI double and Dan Katayama followed with a run-scoring single up the middle.
The Pirates broke a 2-all tie in the fourth with two more runs. Joey Ortiz walked and Bohn connected for an RBI double. Bohn went to third on the play and scored what proved to be the winning run on Kaufman's sacrifice fly.
In the sixth, the Pirates tacked on two more insurance runs when Bohn opened with a walk. Then with one out, Taft pitcher Jordan McNelly hit four consecutive batters to force in both runs.
Kyle Treadway, Kaufman and Katayama all contributed two hits for the Pirates.
Phoenix, the No. 3 seed from the Skyline, plays at defending state champion Astoria in a second-round game Tuesday.
Phoenix 200 202 0 — 6 12 3
Taft 110 010 0 — 3 3 2
Keith, Bohn (6) and Kaufman; Hahn, McNelly (3), Ehrenfelt (6) and Knott. W — Keith (3-0). L — McNelly. 2B — P: Bohn, Kaufman.
Class 6A Softball
TIGARD 14, SOUTH MEDFORD 4, 6 inn. — At Wilsonville, Tigard used a seven-run sixth inning to pull away in the Class 6A state playoff game at Wilsonville High.
South Medford sophomore pitcher Kylee Nunez, who finished the year 14-11, took the loss. She and freshman Kelcee Jones combined for 10 walks, including five straight during a rough stretch in the sixth.
The game was delayed for around 30 minutes in the sixth because of rain and hail. Tigard led 7-4 with two on and no outs when play resumed. After the Panthers allowed the walks, Jessica Lemiuex belted a bases-clearing triple to help seal the win.
Senior Megan Hobson hit a two-run single with two outs in the fourth inning to put South (15-12) in striking distance, trailing 4-3. Hobson scored on a balk.
Katie Aden finished 3-for-4 with a double and Chelsea Bigelow was 2-for-3 for the Tigers (16-7).
South Medford 000 301 — 4 5 4
Tigard 013 217 — 14 10 2
Nunez, K. Jones (5), Nunez (6) and Equitz; Hare, Curtis (4) and Raelin. W — Hare. L — Nunez (14-11). 2B — T: Aden, Raelin; 3B — T: Lemiuex.