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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.