Medford didn’t always get what it wanted Tuesday afternoon in an American Legion AAA baseball doubleheader with Willamette Valley, but the Mustangs definitely got what they needed at North Medford High.
Despite stranding a combined 24 baserunners in the twin bill, the Mustangs were able to mount more than enough offense in sweeping the visiting Titans, 10-4 and 7-3, to push their record to 6-2 in Area 4 play and 15-5-1 overall.
“We kind of took a little bit here and there,” said Mustangs manager Nate Mayben, “but we had a chance for a lot more. We left 13 guys on base in the first game and 11 on base in the second game but we were able to do enough to get the ‘W’ so I guess that’s a good thing.”
Helping spur the victories was an offense that put up 12 hits in each game, even if it wasn’t always the big one to break the games open against Willamette Valley (2-6 Area 4).
“We got a lot of help in the sense that we got quite a few free bases,” said Mayben, “but we also did a good job of hitting the ball today. We just didn’t get that big knock that would’ve really broken it open. It’d be nice to come through in those clutch situations but we just didn’t today. We just one-run and two-runned them to death each inning and never got that big two-RBI hit or clearing the bases hit even though we had a lot of opportunities to do that.”
Of the 24 stranded baserunners, 18 came after Medford left the bases loaded a combined six times in the twin bill.
Still, to score as many runs as the Mustangs did without those big timely hits was impressive in its own right.
Medford got things going early in Game 1, with Tate Cowden slapping a leadoff single before Ryan Lorenz and Cole Carder walked to load the bases against Titans starter Cade Bates. With one out, Jacob Melton supplied an RBI sacrifice fly and Berry Hunt had an RBI single for a quick 2-0 advantage.
The Mustangs essentially put the game out of reach with three more runs in the sixth inning to go up 5-0. After an error, James Turnbull had an RBI double to get things going from the No. 9 spot and then Cowden walked. Carder supplied a one-RBI single and Melton had an RBI hit with two outs to give Medford all the runs it would need in the opener.
Cowden finished 3-for-3 with three runs and two RBIs, Hunt was 2-for-3 with one run and one RBI and Turnbull 2-for-2 with one run and two RBIs.
Nick Sanderson got the start in Game 1 and Melton took the mound to open the nightcap, with the Mustangs trying something new from the bullpen by turning to Wyatt Baptiste, Coldin Shopp and Ethan Whitney in succession to close the door in each game.
“It was a nice rotation with those guys,” Mayben said of the final trio. “They did a good job of throwing strikes and not giving up free bases.”
In Game 2, the Mustangs again jumped on the Titans early, scoring three runs in the first inning to set the tone for an Area 4 sweep.
Cowden was hit by a pitch, Ryan Lorenz walked and Carder singled to load the bases. After Cowden was picked off, Melton singled to re-load the bases for Sanderson, who was hit by a pitch to plate Lorenz with the first run. Hunt’s two-run single followed to build a 3-0 cushion that wasn’t really threatened until Baptiste had to close the door on Willamette Valley in the fifth inning.
Lorenz finished 2-for-3 with two runs and one RBI in Game 2, while Carder was 2-for-4 with one run, Melton 2-for-3 with two runs and Hunt 2-for-4 with two RBIs.
“It could’ve been a lot worse as far as the score goes but we got what we needed,” said Mayben.
The Mustangs will take a day off today before venturing to Fairfield, California, for the five-day W.A.B.F. Tournament beginning Thursday. This trip comes on the heels of last week’s road trip to Reno, Nevada.
“We like going on these trips,” said Mayben. “It brings us together and lets us figure out all of our pieces because we get to play lot of games against some pretty good competition. This will actually be the first stint of games where we’ll have everybody with us so I’m really looking forward to seeing what we can do.”
With players having college commitments at the beginning of the season, all-star baseball events or other reasons for absence, Monday was only the third time this season the Mustangs had all 18 players on hand.
Bates, Sales (4) and Burke; Sanderson, Baptiste (4), Shopp (6), Whitney (7) and Turnbull. W — Baptiste. L — Bates. 2B — M: Marsh, Turnbull. 3B — M: Hunt, Turnbull.
Thoreson, White (6) and Crist; Melton, Baptiste (5), Shopp (6), Whitney (7) and Turnbull. W — Melton. L — Thoreson. 2B — WV: Elliott; M: Melton, Turnbull.
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