Coach K Memorial returns for fourth year
Sandee Kensinger was never your typical baseball manager, so it makes sense that a tournament in his honor hasn’t followed a typical format in any of the playings since his untimely death in 2017.
For the fourth annual Coach K Memorial, Medford Mustangs manager Nate Mayben has developed a tournament schedule that will pit five familiar Oregon teams at the American Legion AAA level against five counterparts from California beginning Thursday and running through Sunday.
The Oregon versus California format guarantees five games for each squad, although there will not be a traditional tournament champion crowned at the end.
Game sites include North Medford High School, U.S. Cellular Community Park Field 9, Reinhart Volunteer Park in Grants Pass and Harry & David Field.
Teams in Oregon’s Red Division include the Medford Mustangs, Grants Pass Nuggets, Klamath Falls Falcons, Roseburg Dr. Stewart’s and the Salem Withnell Dodgers.
California programs in the Blue Division include the Chico Nuts, Mudville 9, Siskiyou Post 122, River Park Eagles and Humboldt Eagles.
Thursday’s highlighted openers involving local teams include the Grants Pass Nuggets against Siskiyou Post 122 at noon at North Medford High, with that same venue seeing the Mustangs play host to the Humboldt Eagles at 6 p.m.
Kensinger died suddenly on Aug. 14, 2017, at age 59, and the Coach K Memorial serves as a continuing tribute to the coach’s legacy.
Kensinger retired just three games shy of managing his 1,000th game for the Mustangs prior to the 2011 season, when Mayben took over. His career record was 758-239, for a winning percentage of .760 over 19 seasons. He stepped down for two seasons, 2001-02, for personal reasons, but served as an assistant to Brent Watts.
Under Kensinger, the Mustangs made it to the American Legion World Series three times (1992, 1997 and 2009), placing as high as second in ‘97 and ‘09. They also went in 2002. The Mustangs captured seven state championships with Kensinger at the helm.
Medford will look to regain momentum in the tournament after suffering a doubleheader loss to Eugene Tuesday night. The two teams were set to battle again in Medford Wednesday night, but results were not available as of press time.
For the Mustangs (18-4), Tanner Douglas has been on a tear at the plate with a team-high .493 batting average to go with 29 runs and 31 RBIs.
Medford has also gotten a boost from first-year player Aiden Horsley, who is batting .489 with 12 runs and 14 RBIs in a lineup that boasts a .342 team batting average.
Eli Westrick (.386, 11 runs, 13 RBIs), Cody Borraggine (.364, 17 runs, 13 RBIs), Darin Marsh (.362, 22 runs, eight RBIs), Jeremiah Robbins (.361, 15 RBIs) and Zac Ankeny (.350, 17 runs, 12 RBIs) have keyed the offense.
Gavin Schmidt (.321, 11 runs, 13 RBIs), Jace Miller (.273, 18 runs, 18 RBIs) and Rowan Amann (.295, 16 runs, 12 RBIs) also spur a Mustangs attack that averages around nine runs per game.
On the mound, Westrick (4-0, 0.83 ERA), Schmidt (2-0, 0.69 ERA), Douglas (3-1, 2.58 ERA) and Borraggine (2-1, 5.25 ERA) have led the way for the Mustangs.
AJ Balsiger (1-0, 0.38 ERA) has also been extremely effective for Medford with three saves in as many opportunities, with newcomer Trey Newmann (2-0, 5.35 ERA) providing depth and versatility to the rotation.
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