GRANTS PASS — The South Medford baseball team’s memorable season came to an end Thursday in the second round of the Class 6A state playoffs.
The second-ranked Panthers made uncharacteristic errors, were unable get their base runners home and fell 7-2 to 15th-ranked Sprague in the second round of the Class 6A playoffs at Grants Pass High.
The game was moved from the Panthers’ home field, Harry and David, because of wet grounds in the aftermath of recent thunderstorms.
South Medford (22-5), which rattled off 17-straight wins and claimed the Southwest Conference title with an 18-0 record, scattered five hits in the contest and stranded nine runners — seven were in scoring position.
“I’m awfully proud of our guys,” said interim coach Scott Carle of South Medford’s season. “The dugout stayed charged up and never gave up. It was a shame we didn’t come out on top.”
Following the top half of the first inning, which was played Wednesday before a storm suspended play, the Panthers were the first to get on the scoreboard in the bottom of the first Thursday.
Jacob Melton walked, stole second and after one out, moved to third base on a ground out by Jaalen Owens and came in Jack Thompson’s double.
Things began to unravel for the Panthers thereafter with three errors in the top of the second inning which resulted in three unearned runs and a 3-1 lead for the Olympians.
In the bottom of the fourth, the Panthers had something going after a Jaylin Parnell singled and both Daniel Shenk and Sebastian Molina cajoled walks to load the bases with one out. But the next batter, Robby Carle, grounded into a double play to end the threat.
With South Medford still trailing by two runs, Shenk, who reached base with a single and moved to third base following a fielder’s choice and a passed ball, scored on a throwing error by Sprague’s third baseman, and the Panthers cut the Olympian lead to 3-2.
Sprague stymied the comeback attempt in the top of the seventh with a run-scoring double by Michael Murphy and a three-run triple from Zach Lovell that pushed the lead to 7-2.
Starting pitcher Ricky Boortz allowed four earned runs in the contest. He struck out five over 6?1/3 innings, surrendering 11 hits and four walks.
“Ricky Boortz was throwing a heck of a game,” said Carle. “He’s been doing that all year. I wish we could have given him a few more runs to even it up.”
Sprague, which takes on South Salem in the quarterfinals, was led by pitcher Alek Altringer, who allowed two runs — one earned — on four hits and struck out six. He also went 3-for-5 at the plate.
Altringer and Murphy; Boortz, Melton (7) and Thompson. W — Altringer. L — Boortz (7-2). 2B — S: Murphy, Lovell; SM: Thompson, Molina.
CASCADE CHRISTIAN 3, WARRENTON 0: Everything was working for pitcher Kyle Reece as he delivered a shutout for Cascade Christian, which advanced to the quarterfinals of the Class 3A playoffs with the victory at U.S. Cellular Community Park.
The Challengers (15-8) travel today to face Santiam Christian.
Reece’s two-hitter was accompanied by 10 strikeouts and just three walks. His defense, highlighted by the playmaking of shortstop Joel McLemore, did not commit an error behind him.
“(Kyle) did quite well, especially considering he got all warmed up and pitched to three batters last night,” said coach Cascade Christian coach David Martin, whose playoff game was originally slated for Wednesday but was postponed due to rain and lightning. “He did an outstanding job with great defense behind him. When Kyle’s on the hill, it seems like the defense plays with great confidence.”
Reece helped his own cause, scoring the contest’s first run on a ground out by Jadon Rullamas in the bottom of the first inning. Declan Payne later plated McLemore on a sacrifice fly to give the Challengers a 2-0 advantage.
McLemore finished 2-for-3 and drove home Ryan Vidlak with a bunt in the sixth inning to increase the lead to 3-0.
Warrenton of the Lewis & Clark League finished the season with a 17-5 record.
Jackson, Knight (6) and Morrow; Reece and Thompson. W — Reece (5-4). L — Jackson. 2B — CC: Reece, McLemore. 3B — W: Falls.
AMITY 8, CASCADE CHRISTIAN 1: Cascade Christian wasn’t able to get its offense in gear against Amity ace Brittnie Brown, who pitched a one-hitter and eliminated the Challengers in the opening round of the Class 3A playoffs at U.S. Cellular Community Park.
Cascade Christian, champion of the Southern Cascade League with a 9-0 record, finished the season at 16-9 overall.
Ali Modrell came up with the Challengers’ lone hit in the first inning. Modrell later came around to score on an error.
The Challengers committed five errors in the contest and fell into an early hole when Amity scored four runs in the first inning.
Freshman pitcher Katelyn Willard allowed two runs and struck out six for the Challengers, while Brown fanned 11 for eighth-ranked Amity.
Brown and Wright; Willard and Modrell. W — Brown. L — Willard (16-8). 2B — A: Wright. 3B — A: Ralston .