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Mustangs fall flat against Corvallis

CORVALLIS — The Medford Mustangs' bid for a third consecutive American Legion AAA state tournament title took its first hit on Friday night at Corvallis High School's Taylor Field.

Host Corvallis Richey's Market (30-16) rode the arm of right-hander Michael Hamilton in posting a 5-2 victory over the Mustangs (38-9) in a game featuring the only two unbeaten teams in the tournament.

Medford, now 2-1 in the double-elimination tournament, meets East County Northwest Star Academy in an elimination game today at 4 p.m. Northwest Star Academy stayed alive with a 9-4 win over the Salem Withnell Dodgers earlier on Friday. Medford won the first matchup between the two teams, 6-0 in the tournament opener.

Richey's Market faces Roseburg Dr. Stewart's, a 4-0 winner over Wilson on Friday, at 7:30 tonight.

Against Medford, the 6-foot, 165-pound Hamilton — a 2009 Central High School graduate — pitched a complete game and allowed seven hits. He struck out eight, walked two and forced three double plays, including one to end the game.

"I was just trying to make them put it into play and let my team do it," said Hamilton, who effectively worked the outer parts of the plate. "They are the ones that made all the plays. They are the ones who won the game.

"Being the host team, nobody thought we deserved to be here. We are out to prove that we are going to compete."

Hamilton allowed just one hit through five innings, retiring 12 straight at one point, against what had been a potent Medford lineup through the tournament so far.

All three double plays came with Medford starting pitcher Matt Maurer at the plate. He grounded into 6-4-3 double plays in the second, seventh and ninth.

"Nothing seemed to really go our way," Maurer said. "We definitely got beat. They outhit us, they outpitched us. Today wasn't our day."

The double play in the seventh left the Mustangs' Griffin Boyd stranded on third after a one-out triple. Down 5-2, Medford threatened in the ninth with runners on first and second and one out before the Corvallis infield of second baseman Jake Likewise, shortstop Nathan Williams and first baseman Thomas McCarthy turned another to end the game.

"We played them earlier and we took a couple from them," Medford manager Sandee Kensinger said. "This is a totally different situation. This is a new season for them."

Maurer took the loss for Medford despite having what he called one of his best outings of the year.

He worked eight innings, allowing four runs on six hits. He walked four and struck out 10.

His most glaring mistake came in the top of the fourth in a scoreless game. He allowed a lead-off single to McCarthy and hit Kellen Sparkes with one out.

Facing catcher Chase Sanders with two outs, Maurer hung a 2-0 changeup and Sanders drove the ball over the center-field fence for a three-run home run.

"He was pitching me away," Hamilton said. "He just left one up and away and I took it.

"It feels great. We had to battle with Withnell (Salem) and Medford all season. To get wins against those teams is big for us."

Maurer settled in after the home run, retiring seven straight. And he escaped a one-out, bases-loaded jam in the eighth, allowing just one run on a sacrifice bunt.

Medford scored its first run in the sixth when Max Gordon, who extended his hitting streak to 17 games with a leadoff double to right, scored on a lined single to left by Chris Bradshaw to make it 3-1 Corvallis.

Corvallis added an insurance run against reliever Charlie Sebrell in the ninth when Tregg Smith drew a lead-off walk and later scored on a sacrifice fly from McCarthy.

Medford, which will throw Bradey Shipley today, showed life in the bottom of the ninth. Zack Earle led off with a single, went to second on Boyd's single, and later scored on a single by Garrett Tygerson.

But the night belonged to Hamilton.

Corvallis 000 300 011 — 5 6 0

Medford 000 001 001 — 2 7 2

Hamilton and Sanders; Maurer, C. Sebrell (9) and Sowers. W — Hamilton. L — Maurer (4-2). 2B — M: Gordon. 3B — M: Boyd. HR — C: Sanders.

Medford players look on during the ninth inning of Friday's 5-2 loss to Corvallis at the American Legion AAA state tournament. - Photo by Cory Reed