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‘Stangs dominate to net 18th state title

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Medford routs Hillsboro to cap unbeaten run in American Legion AAA state tournament

Medford gave itself two opportunities to claim an American Legion AAA state championship on Wednesday at Champion Car Wash Field in Roseburg.

Given the way the Mustangs have been playing of late, no one should be surprised that was more than they would ever need.

Medford scored early and often and Tanner Douglas was dialed in on the mound to stifle the Hillsboro Barbers and cap an unbeaten run through the five-day tournament with a resounding 14-2 victory.

“I’m just so happy for the boys,” said Mustangs manager Nate Mayben. “They’ve put in a lot of work and committed to each other and sacrificed a lot this summer to get a chance to be able to win that thing and dogpile at the end, and they did it. They played well.”

That last bit from the 12th-year manager may be the understatement of the season.

The Mustangs (37-7) didn’t just play well, they dominated Wednesday with at least one hit for every starter and 16 hits overall to post their second straight double-digit triumph.

“The last few days we’ve just been hitting the baseball really well,” said Mayben. “I think I can count on one hand how many pop flies we hit. We were just hitting the ball hard on a line and on the ground and really taking advantage of just about every scoring situation we got into. My hat’s off to our guys, their approach at the plate has just been perfect.”

Pick a player and the results were there Wednesday for the Mustangs, who won 14 state titles from 1991-2019.

Jace Miller continued his tear at the plate by going 3-for-4 with three runs and four RBIs, with Aiden Horsley going 3-for-5 with one run and one RBI and Cameron Sewell driving in three runs to go with three runs scored.

Cody Borraggine was 2-for-4 with three runs in the leadoff spot and pitched a perfect seventh inning to clinch Medford’s seventh state title in the last eight attempts after falling in last year’s finale.

Douglas was 2-for-5 with two runs and one RBI and scattered four hits over six innings on the mound with seven strikeouts and four walks.

Jeremiah Robbins was 2-for-5 with one RBI, Owen Thompson drove in a run, Frankie Rutigliano connected for the game’s lone triple and Johnny King scored twice to further underscore Medford’s balance.

“This is a tough lineup,” said Mayben. “When they’re locked in like that, it’s a really, really tough lineup. And the great part is everybody is contributing. It’s not just your top four guys, it’s all nine guys contributing offensively right now.”

Wednesday’s game, at least early on, had the looks of a contest that would need every bit of that offensive outpouring against the veteran and very talented Barbers (33-10-1).

Medford was able to jump on Hillsboro starter Jonah Hergert with two runs in the first inning after Borraggine walked and was moved to third base on a double by Douglas. A passed ball and RBI groundout by Miller secured a 2-0 lead.

The Barbers, however, answered with two runs of their own after two outs in the bottom of the first.

The Mustangs pushed two more runs across in the top of the third behind an RBI double by Miller and sacrifice fly by Robbins, then broke the game open with a six-run fourth inning outburst.

Rutigliano opened the fourth with a triple after a sliding attempt on the line drive by Hillsboro left fielder Joe Brauckmiller. The Barbers were able to get the first out moments later, however, when King’s grounder was scooped up by third baseman Dakota Chun and relayed home to get a tagout at the plate.

While such a change in momentum might have affected some teams or players, Medford showed its mettle with five straight singles that resulted in five runs crossing the plate. With two outs, Thompson singled in the sixth run of the frame and Rutigliano drew a walk to reach base for the second time in the inning before Barbers reliever Jackson Price finally ended the onslaught.

Not taking anything for granted, Medford kept its foot on the pedal to score four more times in the top of the seventh, highlighted by doubles from King, Miller and Horsley.

“I was not expecting a 14-2 game, by any means,” said Mayben, whose team needed 11 innings to beat Hillsboro 7-6 on Monday. “Our guys are so focused. I haven’t been around very many groups of guys like this. They wanted it, they wanted it really bad.”

Medford’s last state title came in 2019, with the 2020 season canceled due to COVID-19 and the Mustangs coming up short against the Eugene Challengers in last year’s state championship game.

Mayben could only chuckle after the game about his team’s “long-awaited” state title.

“We get to turn 18,” he said with a laugh. “I told them tonight I’d say they are part of an exclusive group, but it’s actually a pretty big group of state champions there with the Mustangs. I’m just happy we got it back.”

Medford also secured a chance to play together for at least another week, advancing to the Northwest Regionals at Hladky Memorial Stadium in Gillette, Wyoming. The regional tourney, which the Mustangs have won five times, runs Aug. 3-7.

“It’s a great experience for these guys,” added Mayben. “I’m happy for them, they deserve it.”

They most certainly do.

Medford Mustangs2026004—14160

Hillsboro Barbers2000000—242

Douglas, Borraggine (7) and Robbins; Hergert, Price (4), Keljo (5), Noffsinger (7) and Murphy. W — Douglas (7-0). L — Hergert. 2B — M: Miller 2, Horsley 2, Douglas, King. 3B — M: Rutigliano.

Have a local story idea? Reach reporter Kris Henry at 541-776-4488, khenry@rosebudmedia.com, www.facebook.com/krishenryMT or www.twitter.com/Kris_Henry

Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneThe Lithia Dodge Medford Mustangs pose with their championship pennant after winning the American Legion AAA state championship in Roseburg Wednesday.
Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneThe Medford Mustangs dogpile on the field after winning the American Legion AAA state championship in Roseburg Wednesday.
Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune Medford Mustangs third baseman Jace Miller slides home safe during the 3rd inning of state championship in Roseburg Wednesday.
Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune Medford Mustangs left fielder Aiden Horsley connects for a double during the 7th inning of state championship in Roseburg Wednesday.
Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune Medford Mustangs starting pitcher Tanner Douglas delivers during the 3rd inning of state championship in Roseburg Wednesday.
Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune Medford Mustangs right fielder Cameron Sewell makes the catch for the final out to secure a 14-2 win over the Hillsboro Barbers in the American Legion AAA state championship in Roseburg Wednesday.
Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune Medford Mustangs starting pitcher Tanner Douglas tosses the ball underhand to first base for an out during the 3rd inning of state championship in Roseburg Wednesday.
Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune Medford Mustangs left fielder Aiden Horsley connects for a triple during the 4th inning of state championship in Roseburg Wednesday.
Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneThe Medford Mustangs dogpile on the field after winning the American Legion AAA state championship in Roseburg Wednesday.