Follett ruins Eugene's playoff bid
If ever a team had reason to be wary of a letdown, it was the MedfordMustangs on Tuesday night.
With the Zone 4 American Legion AA title secure and the state tournamentset to begin today, Medford had little to gain but momentum headed intoa doubleheader with Eugene at Miles Field.
The visiting Challengers, on the other hand, needed at least one winto clinch a playoff spot and eliminate Roseburg, which finished the season10-10 but dropped three of four games to Eugene.
Lucky for Roseburg, do-or-die motivation doesn't always translate intoa victory. Despite deficits in two tight games, Medford kept its march intothe playoffs in step with a sweep of Eugene, 11-8 in eight innings and 4-3,behind a trio of home runs to left field by Kevin Follett.
It doesn't mean anything to us, Follett said of the sweep,which ended the season for the Challengers (9-11). All it is is momentum.
Follett, who had five hits on the night and scored the winning run inboth games, pounded a pair of homers in the opener, including a three-runshot that won it in the bottom of the eighth. He followed up with a two-runblast his ninth of the season in the third inning of the nightcap.He later scored the tie-breaking run in the bottom of the seventh on anerror.
I'm just glad we didn't drop one, said relieved Mustangsmanager Sandee Kensinger after the sweep. It was meaningless to usas far as standings but I didn't want to see us come in and take it lightly.We needed to come in and keep it going.
The Mustangs (19-1, 41-6) have won four of the past six state titles,but finished second last year. They open a best-of-three playoff seriesat 7 o'clock tonight at Miles Field against Richey's Market of Corvallis.Medford split its two meetings with Richey's this season.
On Tuesday, Eugene scored a pair of first-inning runs in the nightcap,but Medford pulled to within a run in the second on an RBI double by MattChubb. Then with one out in the third, Follett drove a 2-1 pitch from Eugenestarter Jake Quiring well beyond the left-field fence to complete his homerhat trick and give Medford a 3-2 lead.
Medford's K.C. Rumrey, making just his third start of the year whilethe Mustangs rested their regular pitchers, threw five solid innings andheld a 3-2 lead when he was relieved by Jason Huish in the sixth. Eugenehad runners on second and third with two outs when Brandon Nance laced asingle to right field to tie the game. But the go-ahead run was tagged outat the plate thanks to a great throw by right fielder Ryan Peterson.
The Challengers loaded the bases with one out in the seventh, but Medfordrelief pitcher Rich Dorman who got both wins on the night struckout Quiring after a long at-bat and then got a groundout to end the inning.
The Mustangs won it in the bottom of the seventh when Follett walkedand Brian Fachet hit a bloop single to left field to put runners on forDorman, who hit a grounder to second base that looked like a double-playball. Eugene second baseman Kevin Alexander tagged Fachet, but threw itpast first baseman Jeremy Barnes, allowing Follett to score.
In the opener, the teams were tied 8-8 going to the eighth inning whenPhilo hit a one-out double to get things going. Then Challengers pitcherBrody Wilson, a right-hander, intentionally walked the left-handed SeanWalker who had hit a solo homer, his 12th of the year, in the firstinning to face a righty in Follett. On a 1-1 count, Wilson hung acurveball that Follett smashed over the left-field fence to end the game.