Slow and steady was the recipe for success Wednesday for the Medford Mustangs in American Legion AAA baseball at Harry & David Field.
Having already secured a berth in the state tournament as the host team, the Mustangs continued to tweak with their lineup against the visiting Demarini Dirtbags and gradually pulled away for a 10-4 triumph.
RECAP: Medford's Charlie Walker goes 2-for-4 with two runs and three RBIs and the Mustangs got two RBIs apiece from Austin Zavala and Eric Carlson to earn the nonconference victory.
UP NEXT: Medford at Eugene (dh), 5 p.m. Friday.
Both teams were coming off late night games for the 3 p.m. start but it was Medford that seemed to have a little more pep in its step in the nonconference affair. The Mustangs built a 4-1 cushion through three innings and then put the contest away with a six-run seventh inning that saw them send 12 batters to the plate.
Charlie Walker led the charge by going 2-for-4 with two doubles, two runs and three RBIs — one in each of his two at-bats of the seventh — while Steen Fredrickson was 3-for-5 with one run and one RBI and Bryce Rogan went 2-for-5.
The Mustangs (23-15) also picked up a pair of RBIs from Austin Zavala and Eric Carlson in a 13-hit effort.
For the Dirtbags (16-18) of the Salem area, who played in Grants Pass Tuesday night, Kade Fast had a two-run double in the ninth inning and their other runs came on an RBI double in the third by Jarett Peterson and a seventh-inning error.
"The season's a grind and you've got to come out every day and try and muster some stuff up," Mustangs head coach Nate Mayben said of his team's eighth game in seven days. "I thought our guys did a good job of keeping the energy going. We took advantage of some wild pitches and some ball fours and stuff like that, and then we put the ball in play when we needed to. It was a good job just grinding things out."
Medford's Isaiah Luzny evened his season record at 3-3 after allowing five hits in 62/3 innings with seven strikeouts and four walks in 130 pitches.
The Mustangs broke the seal in the second inning with a sacrifice fly by Carlson that plated David Crofton, who singled to lead off the inning, then opened a 4-1 advantage with a third inning surge against starter Keeton Luther.
In the third, Jared Evans beat out a slow roller to the shortstop, stole second base and advanced to third after a single by Taylor Raff and a wild pitch. After Zavala plated a run on a groundout, Charlie Walker drove an RBI double to right-center field to make it 3-1. Carlson later added a fielder's choice groundout for his second RBI.
After the Dirtbags scratched back with a run in the top of the seventh, the Mustangs dialed things up a notch in their half of the inning to put the game out of reach.
Zavala opened the frame inauspiciously with a bunt single, then came racing home after a wild pitch on a ground-rule double to left field by Charlie Walker. He later scored on an RBI single by his cousin Nate Walker, and the Mustangs kept the pressure on with RBI efforts by Fredrickson, Jared Evans, Zavala and Charlie Walker again — the latter two on bases-loaded walks.
"Charlie's come through for us all year," Mayben said of the second baseman. "He's had his ups and downs like any hitter but he seems to be the right guy in the right spot a lot of times so I'm happy with where he's progressed throughout the year."
Medford returns to Area 4 play with a doubleheader in Eugene on Friday, then moves to Roseburg on Sunday before returning home for a twin bill Tuesday against the Grants Pass Nuggets. The Mustangs later play host to the American Legion AAA state tournament, slated July 31-Aug. 4.
Demarini Dirtbags 001 000 102 — 4 7 0
Medford Mustangs 013 000 60x — 10 13 3
Luther, Weaver (7), Newman (8) and Riddell; Luzny, Hoff (7), Brown (8) and Zavala. W — Luzny (3-3). L — Luther. 2B: D: Peterson, Henry, Fast; M: C. Walker 2.