North Medford second baseman Cody James fields a groundball for the final out of Friday's nonconference game against North Eugene. - Jamie Lusch

Tornado trips up Highlanders

It took a little while, but standout pitcher Matt Maurer and his North Medford teammates finally found their rhythm Friday in nonconference baseball action against North Eugene.

Maurer allowed four baserunners among his first nine batters faced before sitting down 10 in a row, and the Black Tornado used a three-run third inning to secure a 3-1 victory at North Medford High.

Maurer allowed a leadoff single in the first three innings but didn't allow another hit until an RBI single in the sixth inning in a 93-pitch effort. The senior left-hander struck out 10 and walked one in his first six innings of work this spring for the Black Tornado (2-0).

"The first few innings were definitely shaky," said Maurer. "It's been a while since I've been on the hill for a real game. After the first couple innings, I definitely settled down and got back in there and it felt comfortable again ... back to where it should be."

The effort came on the heels of another solid pitching performance by fellow senior Bradey Shipley, who struck out 11 in a 4-0 win over Wilson on Thursday.

Maurer was overpowering at times Friday while also using both sides of the plate.

"He looked a lot better than I actually expected him to look," said North senior catcher Colin Sowers. "He had good command on both sides of the plate, and it's really easy to become an effective pitcher when you can work around instead of using your power and speed to try to just blow past people. He can actually use location to be effective, and that's something he's really been working on."

Sowers sparked the Tornado's scoring surge in the third inning by legging out a leadoff single against North Eugene starter Kyle DeHaven. After a line-drive single to left field by Shipley, both runners advanced into scoring position when DeHaven stumbled on the mound and was called for a balk. Seth Brown, who transferred from Klamath Union last summer, followed with a two-run single up the middle to give North a 2-0 lead.

Cody James then sent a towering drive to left-center field that appeared destined for a double but center fielder Luke Ferrenburg ran it down in the gap. Brown, who never let up running on the play, was doubled off at first base for the second out of the inning.

Maurer followed with a flare to left field that he turned into a double with his hustle, and courtesy runner Cory Pine scored soon after on a single by Jesse Hornbrook.

Neither team managed much offense after that until the Highlanders (2-1) got their lone run in the sixth. Andrew Moore reached on a fielding error by second baseman Jeremy Scottow after a hard grounder to his right, then Maurer hit Garrett Mills with a pitch to put Moore in scoring position. After Moore advanced on a deep flyout to center fielder Cory Haggans, DeHaven dropped a single in front of a charging Brown in right field.

Scottow ended the inning with a groundball out to keep the damage to one unearned run.

Senior reliever Michael Bradshaw came on in the seventh for Maurer and was impressive in posting two quick strikeouts and a groundball out to James, who had moved from first base to second base after the pitching change.

Sowers paced North Medford by going 2-for-2 with one run and two stolen bases. The Tornado finished with seven hits, but could've easily had more had it not been for the efforts of Ferrenburg and shortstop Erik Long, who denied potential hits by Shipley, James and Michael Paxton.

"As far as pitching goes we feel like we're pretty solid," said Sowers. "Offensively, we feel like after these two games we could probably get a little more spark, but it's not like we're doing anything wrong. We just haven't been hitting as well as we could but it's nothing we should be worried about."

North Eugene 000 001 0 — 1 4 0

North Medford 003 000 x — 3 7 1

DeHaven, Harpole (4) and Lari; Maurer, Bradshaw (7) and Sowers. W — Maurer (1-0). L — DeHaven (0-1). S — Bradshaw (1). 2B — NM: Maurer.

Reach reporter Kris Henry at 541-776-4488, or e-mail

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