Walker powers Mustangs to win at regional tourney
BOISE The Medford Mustangs dozed through five innings of theirfirst-round game in the AA American Legion Northwest Regional.
Shawn Walker's bat woke up in the sixth, sparking his team to a 5-1 victoryover the Boise Capitals on Friday.
Walker hit a three-run home run and Hans Smith tossed a complete-gamefive-hitter as the Mustangs survived a scare from the Capitals to win atWigle Field.
The Capitals are the only team in the regional not to have won a statetournament, qualifying as the regional host team. But for five innings,they not the Mustangs looked like one of the tournament favorites.
We started off really slow, Medford manager Sandee Kensingersaid. They really put a scare in us.
Boise scored first, on a pair of doubles in the third inning. Jim Madarietahit one with one-out, then scored two batters later on a Drew Oakes two-bagger.
Capitals starter Richard Cortez shut out Medford for five innings beforeWalker hit a three-run homer in the sixth inning to put Medford up 3-1.
The Mustangs had managed only three hits in the ballgame before NatePhilo led off the sixth with a double. Alex Chavez singled, and Walker knockedan outside pitch over the left-center field wall.
We just needed something to jump-start us, Kensinger said.
Walker said he was just trying to make solid contact and got a hand froma stiff breeze at Wigle Field.
I was just looking for a pitch I could drive, he said. Withthe wind blowing out, the ball's going to be carrying.
Medford scored two more in the seventh. Ryan Peterson singled, stolesecond, took third on a wild pitch and scored on a passed ball. Philo doubledand scored when the next batter, Chavez, doubled as well.
We did overlook them, Walker said. I told the guysbefore I went to bat (in the sixth) that we'd better bust out.
Smith, the six-foot-nine Mustang ace who pitched for Fresno State thisyear, improved to 12-0 in Legion play despite trailing for nearly half thegame. He said he never worried about losing.
Everyone was a little tight, Smith said. But with thisteam, at any time we'll explode like we did.
The hard-throwing left-hander held the Capitals to five hits and struckout 10, walking three.
I don't think he was as sharp as he is capable of being,Kensinger said.
The top three hitters in the Medford lineup all had two hits. Philo went2 for 4 with two doubles and two runs scored. Chavez was 2 for 4 with adouble and an RBI. Walker was 2 for 4 with the homer and three RBIs.
As a team, Medford scratched out 10 hits off Cortez, who lasted 6 innings.
I think our bats will be a little more live (Saturday), Smithsaid.
We need all aspects of our game to be there, Kensinger said.We've been doing it with our bats all year.
Both teams played error-free baseball Friday.
The Mustangs will send state tournament hero Steve Bechler to the moundtonight at 7:05 PDT against Anchorage, Alaska. The Alaskan team beat Wyoming,7-3 Friday.