Mustangs come up short against Excelsior
DANVILLE, Va. ' Baseball is an unusual game in that a batter can do everything right and still fail in his objective.
Medford's hitters know that better than anyone after falling to Excelsior, Minn., by a 9-8 score on Saturday at the American Legion AAA World Series after the Mustangs led 6-1 through three innings and were unfortunate to not have more.
Mustangs manager Brent Watts saw microcosm in a Mustangs' ninth that saw two hard-hit balls deep into the outfield wind up as outs after standout defensive plays.
That last inning we hit two balls on the nose, Watts said. One went over the center fielder's head and he made the play, the other in the left-center gap and he makes a great play. You need those breaks. It just wasn't meant to be.
The Mustangs (48-13 overall) started as if they would batter Post 259 pitcher McKenzie's offerings all over the park. Rob Folsom and Brett Timmerman doubled in the first inning and two of the three Medford outs in the first were line drives to center field.
Medford scored twice in the first inning, then opened a 6-1 lead with a productive third inning. Jimmy Ulrey's three-run double was the big blast in the frame.
(Friday), we were hating life after hitting the way we did (against Las Vegas in a 4-0 loss), Ulrey said.
It felt good to have people come through and get the big lead.
McKenzie survived by changing his pitching pattern to include more curveballs.
They were hammering me early, he said.
A critical error left the door open for Excelsior (47-14) in the fourth. Fran Glover led off and reached on a Matt Skundrick miscue at third base. It seemed innocuous at the time, but ended up far from it.
Post 259 got three two-out singles and Glover scored in the inning, meaning all four runs were unearned and would not have scored were it not for the error.
Starting pitcher Brady Rhodes walked the first two batters of the fifth inning; the second base on balls finished his day as Watts brought Brent Goble into the game straight off the bench.
Goble could not prevent the two walked batters from scoring and allowed two runs of his own to cross. Zach Peterson and Marcus McKenzie singled in runs off Goble and Excelsior finished the frame with a 9-6 lead and eight unanswered runs over two innings.
We gave up too many walks and they capitalized on those and a couple of errors, Watts said. If we could have held them off a little better the momentum could have stayed with us.
McKenzie settled down and kept Medford scoreless until the seventh, when Dustin Butler's two-out double on a full count cut Post 259's lead to 9-8.
The last two outs of the fifth inning started a streak of eight straight outs for Goble before McKenzie broke that up with a leadoff single in the eighth. then, it was too late.
It was a rocky start. I left the ball over the plate a little bit at first, Goble said. But I warmed up in the third or fourth inning. That's my job; if anyone gets in trouble, I come in. Night after night, that's what I do.
The Mustangs got runners to scoring position in the sixth and eighth innings, but both got there with two outs and Medford could not muster a two-out hit to bring either runner home.
The Mustangs, 0-2 in the tournament, are mathematically eliminated from advancing out of National Division pool play to the semifinals.
Medford closes its remarkable season today against Rapid City, S.D., 2-0 in the tournament, at approximately 10 a.m.
Petersn ss4222Folsom c5230
McKnzie p4121Heil 2b5221
Kmrstad cf4022McArthr ss5120
Engel lf5021Skndrk 3b5111
Policno 1b5000Timrmn dh4220
Glover c4200Ulrey rf5013
Wlliams 3b4231Butler 1b5032
Mason rf4000Smith lf4000
Martin 2b5211Engle cf3000
E'Kommerstad, Policano, Martin; Skundrick 2, Goble. DP'Excelsior 2, Medford 1. LOB'Excelsior 9, Medford 9. 2B'Williams 2; Folsom, McArthur, Timmerman, Ulrey, Butler. SH'Mason. SF'Kommerstad. SB'McArthur, Engle.
HBP'McKenzie (Timmerman). PB'Folsom. Inherited runners/scored'Goble 2/2. Umpires'Home, Sean Brennan; First, Dennis Frech; Second, Mik Hendrickson; Third, Cecil Mock. T'2:26. A'N/A.
Rhodes faced 2 batters in the 5th.