Ashland's clutch offense made up for its inconsistent defense in Game 1, but not even two more home runs by Garrett Tygerson could save the Pilots in the nightcap as the North Medford Mavericks clinched the Area 4 title with a doubleheader split Thursday at North Mountain Park.




Ashland exploded for four runs in the fifth inning to win the first game 7-3, but committed four of its eight errors on the day during North Medford's 10-5 Game 2 victory in the American Legion A clash.




With the split, the Mavericks (36-13, 27-5 Area 4) secured their third straight Area 4 championship and an automatic berth to next week's state tournament at Coos Bay. The Mavericks will play Roseburg Pepsi at North Medford High on Sunday in a state seeding game.




Ashland (28-8, 26-6) hosts North Eugene on Sunday, with the winner also advancing to state. The news for North Medford wasn't all good, however. Cody James, the No. — hitter in the Mavericks' lineup, suffered a torn meniscus while diving for a ball in the first inning of the opening game and is out for the season. James had 65 RBIs and a near .600 batting average heading into the key twin bill.




"They're a good club, and for us to lose (James) and still be able to respond and get the win in the second ballgame is something for our kids to be proud of," North Medford head coach Brett Wolfe said.




Ashland got an inside the park home run from Ian Kendall on the aforementioned play when James dropped his glove and the ball popped out once his knee extended awkwardly.




The Pilots also received five solid innings out of starting pitcher Luke Stone to pull out the opener. They broke the game open in the fifth, scoring four runs on three hits and an error.




That made the second game the most important of the season for both teams, and North Medford rose to the challenge immediately, scoring five runs on three hits and two Ashland errors in the first inning. The Mavs then added three more runs on two hits and another Ashland error in the second.




"I don't think it was the pressure because these guys were really enjoying what was going on," Ashland head coach Royce Miller said of the defensive struggles. "You get a little relaxed sometimes and in baseball you can't do that. You've got to stay air-tight defensively all the way through and we had some breakdowns."




The Pilots were in position to get back in the game in the sixth, but North Medford pitcher Bradey Shipley got Ashland leadoff hitter Hayden Miller to ground out with the bases loaded and two out.




Shipley (7-1) earned the complete-game victory in Game 2, allowing six hits and striking out five.




Stephen Cole shrugged off flu-like symptoms and a triple-digit temperature to go 3-for-4 with two runs scored to lead North Medford's offense, while Cory Haggans and Mark Cokenour both went 2-for-4 with two RBIs. Cory Pine also was 2-for-2 with one run for the Mavericks.




Hayden Wolfe also had a big day for North Medford, going 2-for-4 with a triple and two runs scored in the first game.




Ashland's Tygerson hit his seventh and eighth home runs of the season for Ashland.




FIRST GAME




North Medford 002 110 0 "" — 6 1




Ashland Pilots 201 040 x "" 7 6 4




Wolfe, Bradshaw (5) and Pine; Stone, Kendall (6) and Hegdahl. W &

Stone. L &

Wolfe (6-2). 2B &

A: Hall, Kendall. 3B &

NM: Wolfe. HR &

A: Kendall (10).




SECOND GAME




North Medford 531 010 0 "" 10 8 1




Ashland Pilots 010 011 2 "" 5 6 4




Shipley and Pine; Thomas, Miller (3) and Hegdahl, Adam (6). W &

Shipley (7-1). L &

Thomas. 2B &

NM: Wolfe, Cokenour; A: Thomas. HR &

A: Tygerson 2 (8).