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Earle, Mustangs slam Roseburg

Pitching continued to be Medford's calling card at the American Legion AAA baseball state tournament Thursday.

But Zack Earle made sure the offense wasn't overlooked.

Neil Emerson pitched five no-hit innings to start the game, and Earle belted a second-inning grand slam as the Mustangs defeated Roseburg Dr. Stewart's, 9-4, to remain one of two undefeated teams in the double-elimination event at Hansen Stadium in Corvallis.

Medford (38-8) faces the other unbeaten, Corvallis, at 7:30 tonight. Corvallis beat Salem, 1-0.

The Mustangs, who will send Matt Maurer to the mound tonight, are going for their third straight state championship. The tournament ends Sunday.

"You're up 6-0, you've got one of your best kids on the mound and you're playing good defense," said Medford manager Sandee Kensinger. "Getting out quick helps a lot. But we've played those guys enough and we know them well enough. They didn't go away."

The Mustangs built a 9-1 lead through seven innings. Dylan Bedortha relieved Emerson to start the eighth and gave up three runs on four hits.

Earle pitched a perfect ninth, striking out one.

Earle was 3-for-5, drove in five runs and scored three times. Griff Boyd was 3-for-4 with three RBIs for the Mustangs, and teammates Matt Maurer and Max Gordon were each 2-for-5.

Earle got Medford started early, hitting a two-out single in the first inning. Ian Kendall followed with an infield single, and both scored on a Boyd double.

Then came the second, when one-out singles by Isaac Rolie and Lewis Sebrell were followed by a line-drive out and a walk to Chris Bradshaw to load the bases.

Earle then slugged his seventh home run of the season over the left-field fence.

"He's been swinging a great bat all summer long," said Kensinger. "He's solid. He's a three-year kid with a lot of experience in big games."

Despite the early uprising, Emerson (8-0) worked as if he was in scoreless duel. Not until Cameron Newell opened Roseburg's half of the sixth inning with a double was he touched up. Newell advanced to third on a ground out and scored on a wild pitch.

"His demeanor and composure is a real plus for him," Kensinger said of Emerson. "He's always in the same frame of mind. He just goes to work. He doesn't get flustered. He shows no emotion, he just pitches."

Emerson allowed three hits, fanned five and walked five.

With college coaches, including those from Oregon State, scouting the tournament, he opened some eyes by routinely reaching 90 mph on the radar gun, said Kensinger.

"He's got some leverage," said the manager. "He's a big, tall, lanky kid."

The Mustangs' other runs came in the fourth on a wild pitch and in the sixth, when Earle doubled in a run and scored on a single by Boyd.

Roseburg 000 001 030 — 4 7 1

Medford 240 102 00x — 9 15 0

Thomson, Ampi (7), Priestley (8) and Younker; Emerson, Bedortha (8), Earle (9) and L. Sebrell. W — Emerson (8-0). L — Thomson. 2B — R: Huff, Newell; M: Earle, Boyd. HR — M: Earle (7).

Reach sports editor Tim Trower at 776-4479, or e-mail ttrower@mailtribune.com

Medford pitcher Neil Emerson throws against Roseburg at the state tournament on Thursday. - Photo by Dan Jones