EUGENE — It was business as usual for the South Medford baseball team Saturday, and that meant piling on more Southwest Conference victories.
The Panthers pulled off the first undefeated conference run in at least a decade by sweeping a SWC-ending doubleheader at Willamette, 7-1 and 13-2 in six innings.
All this in the first games for South Medford (21-3, 18-0 SWC) since head coach Ray Smith was placed on administrative leave Wednesday by the Medford School District.
“The kids showed up and did exactly everything they’ve done every week that we’ve come out,” said Panthers interim head coach Scott Carle. “I didn’t see any nervousness, if anything they were even goofier than usual.”
Junior Ricky Boortz improved to 7-0 with another stellar pitching performance, scattering six hits with four strikeouts, no walks and one hit batter. He needed only 72 pitches in the complete-game victory.
“He was on and he looked comfortable out there today,” said Carle.
Sebastian Molina and Robby Carle each went 2-for-3 with two RBIs in Game 1 against Willamette (3-19, 2-16).
In Game 2, South Medford used an eight-run third inning to pull away from the Wolverines, getting four hits to go with seven walks in the surge.
Senior Jacob Melton went 2-for-3 with three runs and struck out eight with five hits allowed in four innings pitched before giving way to junior Bennett Smith, who closed the door with two strikeouts in two scoreless innings of relief.
Robby Carle was 2-for-3 with two runs.
The Panthers will go into the Class 6A state playoffs as the No. 2 overall seed, after Westview leapfrogged them for the top spot this weekend, beginning May 21.
Boortz and Thompson; Bracy, Moffatt (6) and Woodcook. W — Boortz (7-0). L — Bracy. 2B — SM: Owens, Letendre. HR — W: Bracy.
Melton, B. Smith (5) and Thompson; Murphy, Woods (4), Hefner (5), Lavassaur (6) and Woodcook. W — Melton (2-0). L — Murphy. 2B — SM: Carle; W: Bracy, Kovachy. 3B — SM: Melton.
NORTH MEDFORD 8-3, ROSEBURG 7-4: Zack Collins’ two-out, two-run single to center capped North Medford’s seventh-inning rally from a 7-5 deficit in Game 1, as the Black Tornado clinched an automatic berth to the Class 6A state playoffs by finishing fourth in the SWC standings before dropping the nightcap at North Medford High.
In the Game 1 comeback, Roseburg reliever Doran Gillespie plunked Ryan Kloek with the bases loaded to draw the Tornado within one, 7-6, and Collins followed with a line drive over Gillespie’s head to score Ryan Sandoval and Brady Buchanan.
Jon-o Gassman pitched four solid innings of relief to keep North Medford (13-12, 8-10 SWC) close, striking out two while surrendering one unearned run. Quinton Rumrey went 3-for-4 with two RBIs and Kloek and Collins had two hits apiece.
In Game 2, Roseburg (16-7, 12-6) went ahead for good in the top of the seventh when Garrett Russell was bunted to third and scored on a passed ball.
Mandera, Gillespie (7) and Jacks; Collins, Buchanan (2), Gassman (4) and Robbins. W — Gassman (1-0). L — Gillespie. 2B — R: Mandera; NM: Rumrey, Gassman.
Johnson and Jacks; Sandoval and Robbins. W — Johnson. L — Sandoval (4-4). 2B — R: Russell; NM: Kloek.
GRANTS PASS 4-5, SHELDON 0-1: At Grants Pass, Grants Pass gave its Class 6A state playoff hopes a boost with a Southwest Conference sweep that moved the Cavemen over Sheldon in the league standings and in the state’s power rankings.
The Cavemen (10-16, 7-11 SWC) will next play host to a play-in game Tuesday as the No. 30 seed, while Sheldon (9-16, 6-12) moved to 31st overall and also faces a play-in matchup.
THURSTON 15-15, ASHLAND 7-0: At Ashland, Ashland let a 6-0 lead slip away in the opener as Thurston rallied en route to a Midwestern League sweep at North Mountain Park.
Eli Westrick and Nate Carter both hit doubles to help the Grizzlies (1-25, 1-20 MWL) score four runs in the first inning of Game 1. Ashland eventually led 7-2 heading into the fourth before the Colts (21-5, 20-1) erupted for seven runs on only three hits, including a triple and three-run double by No. 7 hitter Trevor Duran.
In Game 2, Ashland’s Evan McLennan provided a highlight with a double as Thurston pitcher Andrew Ward held the Grizzlies scoreless on two hits through the first four innings.
M. Burke, Fisher (2), Stedman (6) and Cist; Westrick, Amman (5), Nixon (6) and Evans. W — Fisher. L — Westrick. 2B — T: Werder, Duran, Sargeant; A: Carter, Westrick. 3B — T: Duran. HR — T: Fisher, Shafer.
Ward, Shafer (5) and Crist; Buccino, Brown (4) and Evans. W — Ward. L — Buccino. 2B — T: Elliott, Werder, Fisher, M. Burke, Sargeant, Francis, I. Burke, Riley; A: McLennan. 3B — T: Crist.
PHOENIX 11-7, KLAMATH UNION 0-4: At Talent, Liam Serean went 4-for-4 overall and drove in four runs in the opener, leading the way for the Phoenix bats which totalled 25 hits in a Skyline Conference sweep at Hagler-James Field.
Serean, who was 2-for-2 in Game 1, and Brennen Watts both had two-run doubles during the Pirates’ five-run second inning.
Dylan Knudson tossed a one-hitter through four innings in the opener. He struck out five and walked two for the Pirates (16-9, 9-6 Sky).
Braeden Watts was 3-for-3 with two runs while Jonathan Halligan, Mason Stella and Chase Courtney all went 2-for-3 in the five-inning opener.
In Game 2, Serean was 2-for-2 and scored twice while both Knudson and Brennen Watts went 2-for-3 and plated a pair of runs. Watts and Serean had back-to-back RBI triples in the third inning.
Freedom Martinez picked up the win, striking out seven across six innings, allowing two runs on five hits and two walks.
Mick, Short (3), Carter (4) and Walle; Knudson, Stella (5) and Serean, Merriman (5). W — Knudson. L — Mick. 2B — P: Searen 2, Bre. Watts.
Bowman, Carter (4), Erickson (5) and Walle; Martinez, Stella (7) and Merriman. W — Martinez. L — Bowman. 2B — KU: Short, Walle, Carter; P: Bre. Watts. 3B — P: Bre. Watts, Knudson.
ROGUE RIVER 20-13, ILLINOIS VALLEY 4-3: At Cave Junction, Rogue River wrapped up second place in the Southern Cascade League with the doubleheader sweep.
The Chieftains improved to 14-8 overall and 8-4 in SCL play and earned the final automatic berth to the state playoffs from the SCL.
Illinois Valley finished 3-16 and 2-10.