Hot-hitting Mustangs surge into semifinals
Jack Thompson got his bat going and the Medford Mustangs rebounded from a loss to rout Northwest Diamond Sports, 13-2 in five innings, to secure the No. 1 seed from its pool in the West Coast Invitational Baseball Classic Saturday at U.S. Cellular Community Park.
Medford advanced to the semifinals Sunday against the No. 2 team from the Grants Pass pool, which was to be determined in late games Saturday. The semifinal will be at 12:30 p.m. at the All Sports Park in Grants Pass and will be followed by the championship at 3 p.m.
The first semifinal, which will include Northwest Diamond, from Portland, will be at 10 a.m. in Grants Pass, while two consolation games will be played at U.S. Cellular at 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.
The Mustangs (31-17), Northwest Diamond and EnFuego all had 2-1 records in the Medford pool, which also included Klamath Falls. The tiebreaker, after tournament records and head-to-head results, favored Medford because the Mustangs allowed the fewest runs.
Medford scored three runs in the third and seven in the fourth to surge ahead against Northwest Diamond, the No. 2 seed in the pool and the other semifinalist.
The outburst helped remove the taste of a 15-9 loss in the second round Friday, when the Mustangs allowed eight third-inning runs because of a plethora of walks, hit batters and timely hits by EnFuego.
“We played a little better today,” said Medford manager Nate Mayben. “Yesterday was rough. When you give up eight runs in one inning, that’s tough to bounce back from.”
But bounce back they did.
The Mustangs rapped 12 hits on Saturday, and six of them went for extra bases: home runs by Darin Marsh and Bennett Thompson and four doubles, including two by Jack Thompson.
“Today, our guys were pretty zoned in,” said Mayben. “They were ready to go, and we swung the bat really well. I mean, everything we hit was hit really hard, so they just did a great job of producing runs, and we got enough runs to get us into the one seed.”
Darin Marsh and Bennett Thompson each hit three-run home runs in the third inning.
The third began with the first two batters making outs, but back-to-back doubles by Dylan Marsh and Jack Thompson produced the first run, then the homers took over. Quinton Rumrey added a single in the uprising.
Jack Thompson’s first double came in the second and drove in Dylan Marsh, who had walked, and knotted the score at 1-1. Taven Passey added an RBI single and Jonathan Gassman contributed a sacrifice fly.
“It was nice to see (Jack Thompson) get back on track,” said Mayben. “He’s been struggling a little bit. He’s been trying to make adjustments, and today he came out of his slump a little bit and put some really good, key hits in the right places for us.”
Darin Marsh was 3-for-3 with three RBIs and two runs, and Bennett Thompson was 2-for-3 with three RBIs. Jack Thompson was 2-for-2 with two RBIs and three runs, Quinton Rumrey had two hits and Dylan Marsh two runs.
Bennett Thompson pitched the first three innings for the win. He allowed one run, two hits, struck out four and didn’t walk anyone.
Bennett Thompson threw only 36 pitches, making him available for relief duty Sunday.
AJ Balsiger is slated to start the semifinal game, and if the Mustangs win, Steven Ledendecker would likely get the championship-game start.
“We’ve got some pitching ready for tomorrow, for sure, because of what we were able to do today,” said Mayben. “We were able to save on some pitching, obviously, only playing five innings.”
Humble, Aduddell (3), Kleinschmidt (3), Brook (4) and Richards; Thompson, Costanti (4) and Passey. W — Thompson. L — Humble. 2B — N: Richards, Kuntz; M: J. Thompson 2, Dy. Marsh, Ankeny. 3B — N: Dechard. HR — M: Da. Marsh, B. Thompson.