Medford Mustangs stay perfect at regional
Another quality pitching start and a clutch hit in the sixth inning led to another Medford Mustangs victory at the American Legion AAA Northwest Regional baseball tournament Thursday.
Medford downed Idaho Falls, Idaho, 6-3, in a winner’s bracket game for its second win in as many outings at Lewis-Clark State College in Lewiston, Idaho.
The Mustangs (35-23) earned a berth opposite another undefeated team Bozeman, Montana, at 3:30 p.m. Friday. The game was moved to earlier than scheduled because of expected thunderstorms. Bozeman defeated Kennewick, Washington, 5-0 Thursday.
Skyler Gaudern came within one out of pitching a complete game before being removed because of his pitch count, and Evan McLennan broke a 3-3 deadlock in the sixth with a two-out single to plate two runs as Medford pulled away with three runs.
Brady Buchanan came on in relief of Gaudern and, after issuing a walk, earned a strikeout to end the game.
It was only Idaho Falls’ sixth loss in 59 games. It is 52-6-1.
Only one of the three runs Gaudern (8-3) allowed was earned. He scattered six hits, struck out one and walked two, throwing 106 pitches.
“Skyler Gaudern just pitched a great game,” said Mustangs manager Nate Mayben. “We knew what kind of hitters they are, just really good hitters. They were kind of fastball hunters. Skyler did a great job of throwing his off-speed pitch on the outer half of the plate and being consistent with it. “
In Medford’s opener on Wednesday, the six-time defending Oregon state champions got one-hit pitching from Bennett Thompson for 5 ? innings before Gaudern finished up.
Having used only three pitchers in two games — and only nine pitches from Buchanan — sets the Mustangs up nicely.
“If you’re drawing it up before you come in how you want to do it,” said Mayben, “this is exactly where we want to be.”
No. 3 starter Ricky Boortz goes Friday, and Thompson would be available on Saturday, if need be. Buchanan is available to come back Friday as well.
“Man,” said Mayben, “if we go get one more, we’ve got ourselves a really good shot.”
The solid pitching would have been wasted were it not for a bit of offense, and McLennan did his part.
With the game tied 3-3 through five innings, the Mustangs’ first two batters in the sixth made outs before Darin Marsh singled to left-center field.
Thompson and Ryan Sandoval coaxed walks from reliever Andrew Gregersen — his only two in five innings — to load the bases.
McLennan then laced a single through the right side of the infield to score Marsh and Thompson.
“He’s been so clutch for us,” Mayben said of McLennan, noting big hits in a super-regional series win over Corvallis and during the state tournament.
“He’s just a great hitter, and when the situation gets big, he just stays the same. He’s just really calm. He knows what he can do with the baseball and has a great approach. He was awesome.”
McLennan was 2-for-3, one of two Medford players with two hits. Dylan Marsh was 2-for-3 with an RBI.
“All of our guys are playing well,” said Mayben. “If you need one guy up in a situation like that, he’s (McLennan) one of the guys you’re going to want up. You just know he’s going to put the ball in play hard somewhere.”
After McLennan made it 5-3, Dylan Marsh singled to left to score Sandoval.
Sandoval scored the Mustangs’ first run in the first inning, singling and coming in on a bases-loaded single by Zac Ankeny.
Idaho Falls tied it in the bottom half, and neither team scored again until each tallied twice in the fourth with the aid of fielding miscues.
In the top half, Medford’s Taven Passey was at third base with two outs following his double and a fielder’s choice. Darin Marsh launched a long fly to left that Jaxon Sorenson appeared in position to field. But the ball dropped next to Sorenson, resulting in an error and allowing Passey to score and Marsh to get to third.
Marsh scored, making it 3-1, when Thompson grounded to shortstop Alex Cortez, who made an errant throw to first.
Idaho Falls tied it at 3-3 in its half with the help of a drop by Medford second baseman Chase Costanti on leadoff hitter Tavyn Lords’ fly ball.
“We both gave each other some runs,” said Mayben, “but it was just a great game.”
Idaho Falls, Idaho1002000—362
Gaudern, Buchanan (7) and Passey; Webster, Gregersen (3) and White. W — Gaudern (8-3). L — Gregersen. 2B — M: Dy. Marsh, Passey.
Reach sports editor Tim Trower at 541-776-4479 or firstname.lastname@example.org