Mustangs up to the challenge at Eugene
Winning games against the Eugene Challengers at Swede Johnson Stadium is a difficult job for any team. Playing without one of their offensive leaders — Ian Kendall — made the Medford Mustangs' task even more challenging Friday.
But Medford received complete-game pitching performances from Neil Emerson and Matt Maurer and came away with an American Legion AAA Area 4 sweep, 4-2 and 4-3, in Eugene.
The victories moved Medford to the top of the Area 4 standings at 3-1 and dropped the previously unbeaten Challengers to 2-2.
"That's a big sweep for us without Ian Kendall," said veteran Medford manager Sandee Kensinger. "Ian is a big part of our offensive game."
Kendall, who has hit safely in all 16 games he's played thus far for the Mustangs, missed the doubleheader because of a previous commitment to attend a baseball camp at Stanford University.
In the opener, former Phoenix High standout Neil Emerson had to overcome some arm pain early on. He allowed just two hits and blanked the Challengers over the final five innings. Emerson (3-0) struck out five, walked three and surrendered one earned run.
"Once (Emerson) loosened up, he was fine," said Kensinger. "He was around the plate and put his defense to work."
Medford (19-4) broke a 2-2 tie by scoring two runs in the fourth inning. Hayden Wolfe got the rally going with a one-out walk. Max Gordon followed with a triple and Garrett Tygerson later delivered an RBI single.
"We hammered the ball," said Kensinger, "but hit it right at people and they made some good defensive plays."
Gordon and Tygerson both had two hits and one RBI.
In Game 2, Maurer went into the bottom of the seventh working on a one-hitter with a 4-1 lead. But Eugene rallied for two runs on three singles, a pair of walks and a passed ball. Then Maurer struck out J.R Haase with the bases loaded to end the game.
"We wanted to give (Maurer) an opportunity to get out of it," said Kensinger. "Matt is a clutch player. He made the pitches when he had to."
Maurer (1-1) had 10 strikeouts and four walks.
Like in the first game, Gordon and Tygerson provided the key hits for Medford. They matched their output in the opener with two hits and one RBI apiece.
The Mustangs jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first when Gordon opened with a single, Chris Bradshaw tripled and Tygerson singled.
Medford added an unearned run in the sixth. Then in the seventh, Colin Sowers reached on a bunt single, Wolfe singled and Gordon provided a one-out RBI single that proved to be the winning hit.
"We had some kids step up," said Kensinger. "This is a tough place to play. To come up here and sweep is big for us."
Medford 110 200 0 — 4 9 2
Eugene 020 000 0 — 2 2 1
Emerson and L. Sebrell, Sowers (5); Higgins, Brandon (6) and DeHaven. W — Emerson (3-0). L — Higgins. 2B — M: Maurer. 3B — M: Gordon.
Medford 200 001 1 — 4 7 2
Eugene 000 100 2 — 3 4 1
Maurer and Sowers; Manley and DeHaven. W — Maurer (1-1). L — Manley. 3B — M: Bradshaw. HR — E: Mills.
Reach reporter Frank Silow at 776-4480, or e-mail email@example.com