Held hitless during his prior six at-bats against the Eugene Challengers, it seemed only a matter of time before Medford Mustang infielder Eric Carlson finally broke through during Tuesday's Area 4 doubleheader at Harry & David Field.

Held hitless during his prior six at-bats against the Eugene Challengers, it seemed only a matter of time before Medford Mustang infielder Eric Carlson finally broke through during Tuesday's Area 4 doubleheader at Harry & David Field.

The Ashland High product figured that moment would come in the bottom of the seventh when he stepped to the plate with the bases loaded and only one out. It didn't, and he grounded into an inning-ending double play.

When his team battled back and gave him the exact same scenario in the bottom of the ninth, he made sure not to waste another chance to come through for his team. Carlson singled through the left side of the infield against Eugene reliever Travis Boggs to plate pinch-runner Isaiah Luzny with the winning run and secure a 2-1, nine-inning victory.

The win was made that much more important given Eugene's 3-1 victory in the opener, in which both Medford's David Crofton and Eugene's Jordan Thompson tossed four-hitters but a pair of errors provided the difference.

"Going into that last at-bat I knew I could've helped the team win in my prior two at-bats before that but I couldn't pull through," said Carlson, who entered the game batting .353, "so I figured I might as well try my best to do it then and hopefully redeem myself a little bit."

The clutch hit helped make a deserving winner of Mustangs starter Carter Glick, who pitched all nine innings and scattered eight hits with two strikeouts and two hit batters. Glick, another Ashland High standout, improved to 1-1 on the 101-pitch effort.

"Carter threw a heckuva game and we really needed to win that one for him since we let the first game get away from David, because he should've won that one, too," said Carlson.

Carlson said the image of the ball slipping untouched through the infield in his final at-bat was a beautiful sight to see, for many reasons.

"It was such a relief knowing that I'll actually have an average on the day today and that we actually won a game," Carlson said with a sigh of relief.

The fact that the Mustangs (10-3, 5-1 Area 4) even had a chance at winning the second game was a feat in itself after Eugene starter Brandon Brancato backed up Thompson's strong effort from the opener by pitching a no-hitter through 52/3 innings.

Trailing 1-0 in the bottom of the sixth, Medford finally solved the riddle with a two-out single to center field by Micah Brown — one batter after Carlson was denied on a sensational play by third baseman Taylor Frost. Jared Evans then reached out and poked a ball into right field for a second hit that put runners on the corners for Josh Berman, who came through with a pivotal RBI single that tied the game at 1-all.

"Micah's hit really started it all," said Berman, who had one hit in each game Tuesday. "As soon as Jared got a hit after him, I was going up there confident thinking that if they can get a hit I can get a hit, too. I just tried to put a good swing on it and fortunately enough I got one through the hole and we scored a run."

Eugene (11-8, 2-2) appeared destined to put the go-ahead run on the scoreboard in the top of the ninth after Andy Arruda was hit by a pitch to open the frame. The Challengers smartly followed with a sacrifice bunt to advance Arruda into scoring position, but Carlson came up huge defensively on the next play when Justus Adams sent a hot shot that the third baseman smothered and caught Arruda too far off second base to create a rundown with Taylor Raff for the second out. Glick then struck out leadoff batter Matt Land to squash the threat.

Crofton entered the twin bill with only one hit in seven at-bats but his second hit of Game 2 proved to be a backbreaker for Eugene — and the only extra-base hit of the twin bill — when he laced a double into the left-center field gap.

Luzny came on to run for Crofton and advanced to third on a bunt single by Raff. After Boggs intentionally walked leadoff hitter Christian Gillis to load the bases, he earned a strikeout of Austin Zavala but couldn't get out of the jam against Carlson.

"We have to fight for a playoff spot this year and in order to do that we've got to win our league games so this was a huge win for us," said Berman.

Crofton and Evans each had two hits in the nightcap for Medford, while Eugene scored its lone run in the fourth inning when Frost crossed the plate on a groundout by Arruda.

Eugene capitalized on a pair of Mustang errors to separate itself in the first game.

A two-out walk to Frost in the fourth inning was followed by a single from David Bellamy and a grounder by Boggs to shortstop Cody Coggins, who was partially shielded on the play and the ball caromed off his glove to allow Frost to score.

In the top of the seventh, Eugene scored another pair of unearned runs with two outs. Dalton Pachano walked to start the rally and Tanner Cantwell followed with a grounder that went under Coggins to keep the inning alive. After Land singled to load the bases, Travis Walcott won a nine-pitch at-bat against Crofton and earned an RBI walk.

Jordan Ragan came in to relieve Crofton and walked the first batter he faced before inducing an inning-ending flyout to center field.

The Mustangs finally got something going in the bottom of the seventh against Thompson after back-to-back singles by Evans and Berman with one out led to an RBI fielder's choice by Bryce Rogan. Thompson eliminated any comeback hopes by forcing Coggins into a groundout to the shortstop on his 94th pitch.

Crofton struck out five and walked three with four hits and no earned runs allowed in 62/3 innings. Thompson struck out three and hit one batter during his four-hit effort.


Eugene Challengers 000 100 2 — 3 4 0

Medford Mustangs 000 000 1 — 1 4 2

Thompson and Pachano; Crofton, Ragan (7) and Zavala. W — Thompson (2-0). L — Crofton (0-2).


Eugene Challengers 000 100 000 — 1 8 0

Medford Mustangs 000 001 001 — 2 8 1

Brancato, Boggs (7) and Pachano; Glick and Zavala. W — Glick (1-1). L — Boggs. 2B — M: Crofton.

Reach reporter Kris Henry at 541-776-4488, khenry@mailtribune.com, www.facebook.com/krishenryMT or www.twitter.com/Kris_Henry