ROSEBURG — The Medford Mustangs have approached each game the same this summer — with an intent to get after their opponents — and Saturday’s doubleheader with Roseburg was no different at Legion Field.
Needing only one victory to wrap up a second straight Area 4 American Legion AAA championship, the Mustangs powered through and won both ends of the road doubleheader, 5-1 and 5-3.
“I was pleased with their effort, obviously,” said Mustangs manager Nate Mayben of his team. “We had a couple close ones and we have to learn how to win those close ones and they did that. Roseburg is a really good ballclub so those were two good wins to get.”
Starting pitcher Ethan Whitney helped set the tone for the Mustangs (35-9, 15-3 Area 4) in the opener by allowing only four hits with seven strikeouts and two walks in a complete-game effort. Jon-o Gassman provided a pivotal three-run double in a four-run third inning to pave the way for the Game 1 triumph.
“That was obviously the difference in the game with Whitney’s pitching,” said Mayben. “That one at-bat by Gassman where he was able to drive the ball to right-center was huge.”
Gassman finished 2-for-3 with three RBIs, while Jack Thompson was 2-for-3 with one run, Justin Geyer 2-for-3 with two runs and Brennen Watts 2-for-4 with one run. Zac Ankeny and Jacob Melton also had RBI efforts in the opener.
In Game 2, Melton supplied a one-out triple to help the Mustangs erase a 3-2 deficit. Thompson followed with an RBI single, and later scored the go-ahead run after consecutive two-out singles by Wyatt Baptiste, Gassman and Dylan Marsh.
Thompson finished 2-for-4 with one run and two RBIs, while Geyer was 2-fo4-4 with one run and Marsh 2-for4-2 with one RBI.
Ricky Boortz picked up the pitching victory by allowing only three runs (two earned) on nine hits in 6?2/3 innings with two walks and two strikeouts. Ryan Sandoval struck out the only batter he faced with a runner on second base in the seventh to earn the save.
Medford and Roseburg wrap up the regular season with another doubleheader at Legion Field tonight. Both teams have automatically qualified for the state tournament, which runs July 28-Aug. 1 in Roseburg.
“It is nice to have it over with and not have to deal with the super regionals,” said Mayben of automatically qualifying, “but at the same time each game is important and we want to be playing our best right now. We can’t sit back, we need to keep that switch turned on and ready to go into state.”
Whitney and B. Thompson; Hope, Black (7) and Holland. W — Whitney. L — Hope. 2B — M: Gassman.
Boortz, Sandoval (7) and Geyer; Mandera, Black (7) and Leischner. W — Boortz. L — Mandera. S — Sandoval. 2B — M: J. Thompson; R: Stone. 3B — M: Melton.