Heat, Las Vegas get the best of Mustangs
DANVILLE, Va. ' Humidity did to Medford Mustangs pitcher Matt Skundrick what almost no team has been able to do: force him from the mound.
Skundrick went seven innings and lost a pitcher's duel with Las Vegas hurler Allan Woodward, 4-0, Friday in the Mustangs' opening game in the American Legion AAA World Series.
The shutout marked the first such occurrence for the Mustangs this season, and the first in 90 games for Medford dating back to June 2001.
Woodward is originally from Missouri ' a state bathed in humid weather throughout its summers. He allowed eight hits, and only two Medford base runners reached scoring position.
It was ridiculous, Skundrick said of the oppressive weather conditions. The heat got to me. I had to call time just to take a break. It was killing me. I've never gone out this quick and felt this exhausted before.
Las Vegas right fielder Matt Wagner foiled two of Medford's most promising scoring chances when he made a diving catch to rob Eric Kessler of a hit to lead off the bottom of the third inning. The play looked bigger after Matt Smith followed it with a single that would have moved a runner into scoring position.
It was one of three diving catches Wagner would make.
His catch on Evan McArthur's shot to the right-center field gap in the fifth inning ' the last and perhaps best of Wagner's stellar defensive plays ' may also have helped keep Medford (48-12) off the scoreboard.
Those are rally killers, Mustangs manager Brent Watts said. If we get those to fall, that changes the game. We would have had runners on third with none out or one out.
Las Vegas (45-9) took a 1-0 lead in the second inning without help from a hit.
Woodward drew a walk and Skundrick balked on a pickoff attempt. Brandon Trodick's ground ball to the right side advanced Woodward to third; he scored on a wild pitch.
The Spartans got two hits later in the inning but could not add to their run total.
Woodward helped himself again in the sixth inning. He singled to center and scored on Kyle Fitzpatrick's hit to right field.
McArthur doubled to lead off the home half of the fourth inning, but Woodward got three straight outs from there to keep a clean slate.
A Jimmy Ulrey double went to waste in the ninth, and no one else reached scoring position off Woodward.
Skundrick did his best to keep up with Woodward and Las Vegas. He threw his 100th pitch with one out in the sixth inning of a 100-degree afternoon with much higher relative humidity than is typical in the western United States.
Skundrick struck out eight batters in seven innings ' Woodward only had six in his first seven frames ' but five walks and numerous deep counts made him work harder for his outs.
All through the regionals, we faced, it seems like, everyone's No. — (pitcher), Las Vegas manager Kevin Kohler said. We go up and work counts. It's taken all summer for some of these guys to realize they're not home run hitters. We're not trying to score 15 runs a game.
Las Vegas reached Skundrick for two more runs in the seventh inning on run-scoring hits by Robert Grana and Trodick.
Skundrick may have finally run out of gas in that inning; he threw 148 pitches and five of Las Vegas' eight hits off Skundrick came in the sixth and seventh innings.
contrast, Woodward threw only 80 pitches in his first seven innings. He struck out only one batter in his final five frames.
Though Las Vegas has seen temperatures of 115 degrees and Medford has seen its share of triple-digit days, Woodward said 100 with 50 percent humidity is more uncomfortable than the dry heat to which both teams are accustomed.
Humidity is worse, Woodward said. You've got people dropping like flies during the national anthem just about.
Even so, Skundrick ' who had completed all but one start this season ' was certainly an unlikely victim.
Las Vegas 4, Medford 0
Davila cf5000Folsom c4000
Esquivel 2b5110Heil 2b4010
Johnson ss4010McArthr ss4020
Grana c4011Timrmn cf4000
Woodwrd p3210Ulrey rf4020
Trodick lf3011Butler 1b4010
Ftzptrck 3b4031Kessler lf3000
Earl 1b4010Smith 3b/lf3020
LOB'Las Vegas 10, Medford 7. 2B'Fitzpatrick, McArthur, Ulrey.
Woodward, W 6-0980007
Skundrick, L 12-3794458
WP'Woodward, Skundrick. PB'Folsom. BK'Skundrick. Umpires'Home, Mock; First, Brennan; Second, Frech; Third, Mik. T'2:19.