Mustangs fall to Bozeman at Northwest Regionals
LEWISTON, Idaho — Michael Freund was masterful in seven innings on the mound and also delivered a crucial two-run double in a backbreaking fifth to lead Bozeman, Montana to a 4-1 victory over the Medford Mustangs at the American Legion AAA Northwest Regional baseball tournament today at Lewis-Clark State College.
The loss dropped the Mustangs (35-24) into a loser-out game Saturday against Kennewick, Washington at 9:30 a.m., while Bozeman, the tourney’s lone unbeaten team, guaranteed itself a spot in Sunday’s championship round.
The Mustangs, who are now 2-1 in Lewiston, can still win the tournament and advance to the American Legion World Series by beating Kennewick then winning one or two games on Sunday.
Bozeman broke a scoreless tie in the bottom of the fourth when Preston Fliehman beat out an infield single that glanced off the glove of Medford starting pitcher Ricky Boortz with two outs, allowing Carsten Simcox to score. Fliehman’s clutch hit came right after a spectacular play by Medford catcher Taven Passey kept the game tied, if only for a few more minutes. After a wild pitch ricocheted away from the plate, Passey ran it down and scooped the ball to the hard-charging Boortz. The righty then tagged out Alton Gyselman, who was trying to score from third.
Simcox’s score was the only one allowed by Boortz, who allowed only four hits in the first 3 2/3 innings in a solid 67-pitch outing.
It was still 1-0 in the bottom of the fifth when, following back-to-back singles, Freund blasted a double to right-center to drive in two insurance runs against Medford reliever Brady Buchanan. An RBI single by Carsten Simcox moments later made it 4-0.
Medford tried to reclaim some of its postseason magic by loading the bases in the top of the sixth, but Freund nixed that rally by getting an easy force-out at home on a dropped third strike.
Medford finally broke through against Freund in the top of the seventh when Darin Marsh hit an RBI double to make it 4-1. A single by Bennett Thompson made things interesting and brought the tying run to the plate in Ryan Sandoval, but Medford’s designated hitter grounded out to end the game.
Freund struck out seven and walked two in the 106-pitch outing, holding the Mustangs to five hits. He was clutch when he had to be, getting a fly-out by Bennett Thompson to leave the go-ahead runner stranded at third in the third, and a ground-out by Chase Costanti to prevent the tying run from coming home from third in the fifth.
Buchanan allowed three runs on four hits in 2 1/3 innings of work, and Marsh, who went 2-for-4, was Medford’s only player with multiple hits.
The Bozeman Bucks will play Idaho Falls Saturday at noon. A win there would eliminate Idaho Falls and give the Bucks added insurance in the championship round, as their opponent would need to win two straight to claim the title.
Boortz, Buchanan and Passey; Freund and Gyselman. W — Freund. L — Boortz. 2B — M: Da. Marsh; B: Freund, Simcox.