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Mustangs 2 wins away from title

American Legion World Series boils down to Medford, Sanford

RAPID CITY, S.D. ­ Whatever the situation called for Monday in theAmerican Legion AA World Series, the Medford Mustangs had the correct answer.

Need a team faced with elimination to fight through a wild game thatwas suspended Sunday night, continued Monday morning and featured a flurryof lead changes?

The Mustangs can do that as they proved by holding on for a 16-14 victoryover Fairfield, Calif., after falling behind 9-3 when play resumed Mondaymorning.

Need a squad ­ still faced with elimination ­ to come up withfundamentally solid outing to qualify for the final day of the World Seriesand keep your title hopes alive?

The Mustangs can do that too, as they showed in a 14-4 drumming of Bristol,Conn., that saw Medford pound out 21 hits in support of starter Matt Chubb(9-0).

It's been a long day, Medford manager Sandee Kensinger said.These guys won't quit.

If the Mustangs keep finding a way to win today at Fitzgerald Stadium,that perservance will yield the team's first World Series title.

Medford (56-10) must beat Sanford, Fla., which handed the Mustangs a17-7 defeat Saturday, twice to take the crown. The first game is at 3:05p.m. (PDT) today with a second game, if needed, to begin at 6:35 p.m.

Sanford (47-12) remained the tournament's only unbeaten team by toppingBristol 11-1 on Monday afternoon and then eliminating Rock Island, Ill.,10-8 on a two-run homer by Clyde Williams in the bottom of the ninth inning.

The Mustangs will send right-hander Steve Bechler (11-4) to the moundagainst Sanford. Bechler was the losing pitcher in Saturday's game againstthe Florida squad.

Today could signal the end of Kensinger's eight-year run at the helmof the Mustangs, which has included two World Series appearances.

I think this is my last year, Kensinger said Monday. Ihave some family issues which are important to deal with and a priorityin my life.

Medford made sure to extend Kensinger's stay by outslugging Fairfieldin a game in which no lead was safe.

The game was knotted at — after three innings when it was suspended Sudnaynight and it looked like the Californians were going to make short workof the Oregon club in the fourth inning Monday morning.

Fairfield jumped on Hans Smith, who took over for Sunday starter Chubbwhen play resumed Monday, for six runs. But as Fairfield pounded out fivehits ­ including doubles by Ryan Davis and Jason Williams ­ offSmith, Kensinger never left the dugout.

We had to get so many innings out of Hans, said Kensinger.We have confidence in our bats. We've been swinging pretty well thewhole tournament. I wasn't going to yank Hans; he had a rough start butsettled down.

Smith (15-0) proceeded to retire the next 12 hitters.

Medford bounced back quickly with seven runs in the fifth inning to takea 10-9 lead. The outburst occurred with two outs and included Kevin Follettreaching on a passed ball after striking out, Rich Dorman drawing a bases-loadedwalk, and a three-run homer by Ryan Peterson.

The Mustangs added another run in the sixth on Brian Fachet's RBI double,before scoring five times in the top of the eighth to take a seemingly safe16-9 advantage.

But Smith ran into trouble in the eighth as Fairfield scored five moreruns.

Medford closer Jason Huish, who celebrated his 19th birthday Monday,came on in relief and gave up a two-run double to Ryan Pickett before recordingtwo strikeouts to end the uprising.

Huish has had a tough time the last few appearances but he suckedit up at the end, Kensinger said.

This game built my confidence back up, said Huish. Ihadn't warmed up much. Coach threw me out there (in the bullpen) and talkedto Hans real quick. The next batter got a base hit and I came in the game.I'm used to pressure situations.

Huish saw more pressure in the ninth when Steve DeSote hit a two-outsingle and Williams walked to put the tying run on first base. But Huishgot pinch-hitter Ross Donahue to ground out and end the game.

Fachet, who leads the Mustangs with 23 home runs, reached base safelysix straight times against Fairfield. He had two hits, walked three timesand was hit by a pitch. Nate Philo went 4-for-5 against Fairfield.

In sharp contrast to the morning game, Medford did just about everythingright in beating Bristol, keeping a steady stream off offense flowing.

Never overpowering ­ 18 of the Mustangs' 21 hits were singles ­Medford scored two runs in the bottom of the first, three more in the secondand six in the sixth for a 12-3 lead that Bristol never recovered from.

The Mustangs managed to snuff out Bristol opportunities several times,most notably in the fourth when Adam Platt hit a bases-loaded shot off thewall in right field with Medford up 5-2. Medford threw out two bases runnerson the wild play, holding Bristol (44-10) to just one run on the deep hit.

Chubb went seven innings and gave up only three earned runs before beingrelieved by Huish.

I just tried to hit my spots, Chubb said. Rich (Dorman)calls my game for me and I pretty much do what he tells me.

Dorman, who is leading the World Series and regional tournaments in hittingat .526, finished the game 3-for-4.

It's the time when everybody has to step up, he said. Thisis the time to get hot.

MEDFORD 16, FAIRFIELD 14

Medford300 071 050 ­ 16 15 1

Fairfield, Calif.003 600 050 ­ 14 16 3

Chubb, Smith (4), Huish (8) and Dorman; Carlock, Sisneros (6), Tell (8),Williams (8) and Pickett. W ­ Smith (15-0). L ­ Carlock (9-4). 2B­ M: Philo, Walker, Fachet, Smith, Mayben; F: Battle, Williams, Pickett,Davis. 3B ­ M: Philo. HR ­ M: Fachet (23), Peterson; F: Battle,Williams.

MEDFORD 14, BRISTOL 4

Medford100 200 01 ­ 4 11 2

Bristol, Conn.203 006 12 ­ 14 21 2

Stawarz, Bushy (3), Crosbie (6), Halport (7) and Hebert; Chubb, Huish(8) and Dorman. W ­ Chubb (9-0). L ­ Stawarz (6-3). 2B ­ M:Philo, Chavez, Follett; B: Freimum, Alamo, Kulak 2, Ziogas.