Skundrick paces Mustangs at Regional tournament
LEWISTON, Idaho ' There was little doubt what kind of game the Medford Mustangs expected from pitcher Matt Skundrick to open the American Legion AAA Region 7 Tournament on Thursday morning.
We know we're going to get a kid who likes to compete and is not afraid to go after anybody, said manager Brent Watts. Sometimes you see that in certain kids and you want them out there.
He couldn't get Skundrick to the mound fast enough.
The big right-hander pitched no-hit ball for six innings and struck out 13 as the Mustangs defeated the Anchorage (Alaska) Dimond Lynx, 5-2, to open the eight-team affair at Harris Field.
It was Skundrick's 12th complete game in 13 starts and sent Oregon champion Medford into Game 2 at — p.m. today against Cheyenne, Wyo., on a high note.
The Mustangs (44-11) play three pool games ' they face the host Lewis-Clark Twins on Saturday night ' then would advance to the semifinals Sunday with a top-two placing in their pool.
The championship game is Monday.
Watts and the rest of the Mustangs were confident throughout a relatively slow start that Skundrick would not let matters get out of hand.
Both teams were scoreless through 4&
189; innings. Medford took control with two runs in the fifth inning and two more in the sixth.
By then, Skundrick (10-2) was getting stronger.
After fanning just one batter in the first three innings, he whiffed six straight over one stretch and at least two in five of the last six innings.
He struck out the Dimond Lynx's cleanup hitter, Brandon Joseph, four times.
I haven't had a strikeout total like that in a long time, said Skundrick, who fanned 13 in a game last year. They were looking for fastballs, and I picked up on that early. I came out pretty early with the off-speed stuff, and that really seemed to be the potion that did it.
He mixed his pitches up well, kept the hitters off-balance and discovered what they didn't like.
If you see a guy can't hit a certain pitch, said Watts, then they get a steady diet of that pitch. It took one time through the lineup to figure out how to approach everybody.
The prospect of a no-hitter ended when Taylor Reed singled sharply up the middle with one out in the seventh inning.
Skundrick promptly picked him off, then struck out the next two batters to end the inning.
Four of the Dimond Lynx's six hits came in the eighth inning, but none was solid. Two were bloop singles. One was a check-swing grounder that snuck through. One was a bunt attempt in which the Mustangs didn't cover first base.
Both Anchorage runs came in the inning.
That's the way it goes, said Skundrick. They put their bats on the ball, got their guys on and moved them around.
The game began at 10 a.m., which meant the Mustangs began batting practice at 8 a.m.
Whether that contributed to what, by their standards, was a sluggish start is up for debate.
We didn't get the little things done that we needed to to get that first run across, said Watts.
He referred to a failed sacrifice bunt attempt and an inability to score in the second with one out and runners at second and third.
But as the zeroes mounted, the Mustangs didn't panic.
I think with our ballclub, it's just a matter of time, said Ryan Heil, who drove in two runs. We all have a lot of confidence.
Once Medford worked through the order against Dimond Lynx starter Bryan Crockett and his unorthodox, three-quarters delivery, they grew more comfortable.
We got a taste of what he was doing, and we hit him pretty good, said Heil. It just took a little while.
In the fifth inning, the Mustangs' Matt Smith was hit by a pitch, then Rob Folsom's bunt was thrown away, leaving him at second and Smith at third.
Heil's deep fly to center scored Smith. Evan McArthur followed with a double to left to score Folsom.
After Skundrick set Anchorage down in order, Medford was at it again.
Jimmy Ulrey got plunked to start the rally. After an out, Eric Kessler's single was misplayed in right field, allowing Ulrey to score and leaving Kessler at second.
Tyler Engle replaced Kessler as a pinch runner and, after moving to third on a wild pitch, scored on a Folsom single.
Once the Dimond Lynx did their damage, Heil responded in the eighth by doubling in Engle, who had walked, with the final run.
Skundrick threw 130 pitches and will likely be saved for Monday, should the Mustangs make it to the title game.
He could be ready for a short relief role Sunday, if necessary, said Watts.
Brady Rhodes (9-1) will start for Medford today.
Cutting lf3000Folsom c4121
Reed ss4010Heil 2b3012
Sullivan rf4000McArthr ss5021
Joseph cf4000Skndrck p4010
Clapper 1b3110Timrmn cf4010
Havellna 2b4110Ulrey rf2100
Brmghm 3b3010Butler 1b4010
Jolly dh2000Kessler lf3010
Bell dh1000Engle pr/lf0200
McCarty c2010Smith 3b2100
E'Sullivan, Birmingham. DP'Alaska 1, Medford 1. LOB'Alaska 4, Medford 10. 2B'Heil, McArthur, Butler. HBP'Ulrey 2, Smith. SH'Folsom. SF'Heil. SB'Engle.
WP'Crockett, Skundrick. Umpires'Butz, Dillman, Carr. T'2:02. A'200.