Red-hot Mustangs advance to title game
Medford will take on host Lewiston tonight at 7
For the Mail Tribune
LEWISTON, Idaho ' Medford's Evan McArthur has been playing shortstop for practically the entire 2002 American Legion AAA baseball season.
Considering what transpired Sunday in the Northwest Regional Tournament, Woodland, Calif., probably wishes he would have stayed there.
The fast-working right-hander scattered 10 hits in seven innings of work on the mound to help the Mustangs overcome an early four-run deficit as they beat Woodland 8-6 in the tournament semifinals before a crowd of 325 at Harris Field.
The victory thrusts Medford, now 47-11 and a 1997 World Series runner-up, into tonight's regional title game against host Lewiston at 7. The winner advances to the Legion World Series, which begins Thursday at Danville, Va.
Matt Skundrick, who tossed a six-hitter in Medford's victory over Anchorage, Alaska, in its regional opener, will throw for the Mustangs tonight.
The loss ends Woodland's season at 37-7. The team's third-place regional showing is its best-ever finish.
Prior to Sunday, McArthur had pitched all of two innings this summer.
He had injured his arm pitching for North Medford High in the prep playoffs in May.
Still, Medford coach Brent Watts counted on plenty of durability from his regular shortstop.
We wanted Evan to give us five innings, and we got seven from him, Watts said of McArthur, who relinquished just four earned runs while striking out five and walking three.
Then we got to our bullpen, said Watts, who brought Brett Goble on in relief. Goble pitched two scoreless innings to earn the save.
In a way, it was a strange contest with eight Medford batters and seven Woodland collecting at least one hit. Stranger yet, the teams combined for 21 hits ' all of them singles.
I wasn't expecting to mow 'em down, said McArthur, who was betrayed by two early errors that put his club in an immediate hole. I just wanted them to hit the ball and for our defense to make the plays, and we did when it counted.
The first and second innings were a different story. In the first Woodland parlayed two walks, singles by Daniel Cody and Karl Coulson and an error into two runs. McArthur was touched for two more tallies in the second, thanks to singles by Rudy Crisolo, Cody and Jeff Lopez plus another error.
Woodland pitcher Michael Kaufman breezed through the first two innings before the bottom two batters in the Medford lineup got things rolling.
Matt Smith and Tyler Engle, the Nos. 8 and 9 hitters, rapped out singles to open the third, and Rob Folsom legged out a single. Ryan Heil and McArthur both followed with sacrifice flies.
The Mustang rally appeared to be over when Skundrick swung and missed for strike three. But Woodland catcher Rawley Stanhope couldn't handle the pitch and was charged with a passed ball, allowing a third run to score. Brett Timmerman then got his club even with an RBI single.
The clubs battled into the fifth inning tied 4-4 when Medford scored three runs on just two hits.
Kaufman was his own worst enemy in that frame as he walked the first two batters then threw the ball away on a pickoff attempt.
Jim Ulrey, Dustin Butler and Engle followed with RBI singles to give McArthur a 7-4 cushion.
Engle was the catalyst for the Mustangs, banging out two hits, twice sacrificing runners along while driving in a run and scoring once.
We just look for our pitch and drive it, said Engle, alluding to himself and Smith, who also had two hits. Our job was to put the ball in play, and our lineup is good all the way around.
Watts was quick to point out the importance of a balanced attack.
I told the team that if somebody can be a tough — one through 9 in Legion ball, that's going to make for a good team, he said.
Woodland threatened to recapture the momentum as it scored twice in the sixth to make it a one-run game. A walk to Crisolo and a single and steal by Cody got Woodland going. A fielding error allowed one run to score, and Lopez followed with an RBI groundout.
We battled our way back into it but unfortunately we ran out of gas and couldn't get it done, said Woodland coach Matt Castles. We definitely got off to a good start, but give Medford credit. They had a big inning that got them back in the game.
Heil's RBI single in the eighth gave the Mustangs breathing room at 8-6, and Goble mopped up in relief.
Medford 8, Woodland 6
Crisolo cf4220Folsom c3110
Cody lf5220Heil 2b4012
Coulson ss4121Mcthr p/ss4011
Lopez 2b4022Timrmn cf3110
Long pr/1b1000Goble p0000
Finazzo rf5000Ulrey rf3111
Medrno dh4010Butler 1b4011
E'Kaufman, Heil, Skundrick, Smith 2. DP'Woodland 1, Medford 1. LOB'Woodland 9, Medford 8. SH'Engle 2. SF'Heil, McArthur. SB'Cody, Folsom.
WP'Kaufman, McArthur. HPB'Kaufman (Ulrey). PB'Stanhope 2, Folsom. Umpires'Home, Barry Carr; First, Randy Sutton; Second, Larry Dillman; Third, Ron Porter. T'2:19. A'325.