Clutch rally sends Mustangs to American Legion World Series
BOISE, Idaho Lying awake in their hotel room on the eve of theAmerican Legion Northwest Regional championship game, Medford Mustang teammatesRich Dorman and Alex Chavez made a pact.
I told Alex I had a feeling the game would come down to the ninthinning, Dorman said. We made a promise to each other that wewould clutch up.
Each of the former North Medford High players fulfilled that promiseTuesday night.
Medford trailed 6-5 with two outs in the top of the ninth when Chavezdrilled an opposite-field double to bring home the tying run. An inninglater, Dorman's single scored Kevin Follett for the game-winner.
The Mustangs reaped the benefits of that pact, rallying to beat Chatsworth,Calif., 9-6 in 10 innings and advance to the American Legion AA World Series,which starts Friday in Rapid City, S.D. The Mustangs (52-9) last reachedthe world series in 1991.
Medford, which had trailed the entire game, was down to its final outwhen Chavez came to the plate in the ninth. Ryan Petersen, who had singledthree batters earlier, was on first.
My only thought was to keep the inning going, Chavez said.I didn't want to make the last out.
Manager Sandee Kensinger nervously watched from the dugout steps, histeam's season in the balance.
I'm always nervous, Kensinger said. But you have tobelieve in this team.
Dorman, whose passed ball and throwing error had allowed two Chatsworthruns to score in the fifth, watched too.
I wouldn't rather have any guy in the batter's box other than Chavez,he said. He's been there for us before.
Chavez knocked a double into the right-center field gap, and Petersenscored from first. The shortstop finished the game 3-for-6 with three RBIs.
It was the biggest hit of my life, he said.
It was Dorman's turn in the 10th. With two on and no outs, he laced asingle off fatigued Chatsworth starter Michael Kunes. It was redemptionfor Dorman.
It's our last year, Dorman said, And we weren't goingto let it end today.
Nate Philo hit one of his three doubles on the night to bring home twoinsurance runs later in the 10th. Philo went 4-for-6 with four RBIs.
Hans Smith no-hit Chatsworth over the last four innings of the game toearn the win. Smith, relieved Tuesday's starter Steve Bechler in the seventhafter Bechler gave up the third Chatsworth home run of the ballgame.
Offensive concerns caused Kensinger to start Bechler on two-days rest.With regular designated hitter K.C. Rumrey injured, Kensinger said he preferredto have Smith start the game as the DH and come in to pitch late in thegame rather than possibly force Bechler, who has not hit all season, tostep into the box.
Smith talked with Kensinger about the decision prior to the game, andagreed with his coach. But he still wanted to prove himself when he gotinto the game.
I wanted to make the most of my opportunity to pitch, hesaid.
While Medford had both its top pitchers rested, Chatsworth relied onKunes for the entire game. Kunes turned in a gutsy 10-inning performance,coming one out away from the win, but didn't have enough to finish off theMustangs.
One Medford player who did not have a great night was Brian Fachet, whowent 1-for-5. But Fachet still hit .435 in the tournament and earned a Buickscholarship as MVP of the regional.
Kensinger has been to the world series before, losing two quick gamesin 1991. He hopes to do better this time.
Medford Mustangs000 030 102 — 9 15 3
Chatsworth, Calif.011 120 100 0 6 7 2
Bechler, Smith (7) and Dorman; Kunes and Berger. W Smith. L Kunes. 2B MM: Philo 3, Chavez 2, Smith, Tillmon. HR Berger,Fisher 2.