Mustangs dominate state tournament opener
Despite an early call to duty Wednesday morning, Jordan Lewis was in prime form for the Medford Mustangs as they opened the American Legion AAA state tournament at Corvallis High.
Living up to his status as the Mustangs' ace, Lewis breezed through seven innings of shutout ball before handing the game over to Bradey Shipley, who was equally as effective in nailing down a 6-0 triumph over Northwest Star Academy in a rematch of last year's state finalists.
The left-handed Lewis struck out eight with one walk and scattered six hits, while Shipley didn't allow a hit in two scoreless innings of relief against the Sandy-based ballclub.
Lewis, who improved his career record as a Mustang to 40-4, was aided by three double plays turned behind him by shortstop Zack Earle and second baseman Chris Bradshaw.
"We got the same ol' reliable Jordan that we always get," said Mustangs manager Sandee Kensinger. "He pitched out of one jam with the bases loaded but that was it. He was pretty solid."
The Mustangs (37-8) continue their quest for a third straight state championship at 4 p.m. today when they take on a familiar foe in Roseburg Dr. Stewart's. Roseburg (19-16) edged the Canby Pride 6-5 in the bottom of the ninth on Wednesday. Medford took 3 of 4 games against the Area 4 rivals earlier this summer.
Whether it was the 9 a.m. start or first-game jitters, neither team managed much in the way of offense early Wednesday until Medford finally broke through in the top of the fourth inning. Ian Kendall, who went 3-for-5 with two runs and one RBI, hit a leadoff single and scored when Isaac Rolie's grounder to third baseman Mike Mehlhaff was misplayed for an error.
The Mustangs padded their lead with three runs in the fifth, getting things going with a leadoff double by Max Gordon and a walk to Bradshaw. Both players advanced on a wild pitch and Earle followed with a two-run single to make it 3-0.
After starting pitcher Joe Farrell walked Garrett Tygerson, Northwest Star Academy turned to relief pitcher Bobby Ragasa, who induced a soft liner to second by Kendall before hitting Griffin Boyd to load the bases. Matt Maurer's grounder back to Ragasa resulted in Earle being forced out at home, but the bases remained loaded and another run came home when Rolie was hit by a pitch.
Capping the scoring off in style, the Mustangs blasted back-to-back home runs off Mehlhaff in the ninth inning. Kendall sent the first pitch he saw from the reliever over the fence in left-center field for his 12th homer this summer, and Boyd hit a shot off the scoreboard in right-center field for his fourth round-tripper.
"Back-to-back like that ... that was awesome," said Kensinger. "That gave us a little more separation and Bradey really cruised after Jordan."
Kensinger had been concerned with Medford's early start heading into Wednesday's game but that feeling certainly changed as he sat in the stands watching parts of the next two tournament games.
"That was a blessing in disguise having to get up and play this morning when it was a lot cooler than it is now," he said during the Roseburg-Canby game.
In Wednesday's other state tournament action, the Salem Withnell Dodgers doubled up Wilson Alpenrose and host Corvallis Richey's Market was still playing Newberg Abby's Pizza as of press time.
Medford Mustangs 000 130 002 — 6 8 1
N'west Star Academy 000 000 000 — 0 6 4
Lewis, Shipley (8) and Sowers; Farrell, Ragasa (5), Mehlhaff (9) and Matheny. W — Lewis (8-1). L — Farrell. 2B — M: Gordon, Kendall, Sowers. HR — M: Kendall (12), Boyd (4).
Reach reporter Kris Henry at 776-4488, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org