Changes pay off again for Mustangs

It's not uncommon for Medford Mustangs manager Sandee Kensinger to shake up his lineup early in the summer, taking a look at a different player here or there.

But even he couldn't have predicted how quickly such tinkering would pay off for the Mustangs in the Best of the West Wood Bat Challenge.

Medford pounded out 14 hits en route to a 9-1 win over the Sierra Sun Devils of Reno, Nev., using Kensinger's revamped lineup on Saturday, and that same look was in full force Sunday as the Mustangs used 13 hits to top Corvallis Richey's Market 12-2 in eight innings.

"We've got some guys that are struggling a little bit, and they know it," said Kensinger of the changes. "Playing with a wood bat is a little different and this park is tough to hit in. We just kinda took a look at who was getting on-base a little more and went from there."

"The big thing was moving Dustin (Smith) to leadoff and Griff (Boyd) to No. 3 because he's just absolutely on a tear," he added. "We're still working on it, so we'll see."

Whether it was the moves or simply some hard-hit balls finally being rewarded, Kensinger certainly wasn't arguing with the results after Sunday's tournament finale.

Medford (10-4) jumped on Corvallis for three first-inning runs, added four more in the sixth to take an 8-2 lead and then closed out the visitors by virtue of the 10-run mercy rule with three runs in the bottom of the eighth.

"We have a lot of good players and I understand everyone wants to play but only nine guys can," said Kensinger. "We're starting to see some things, and it's all about being able to be consistent, with consistent play and consistent at-bats."

Few players have been more consistent than Boyd, who entered Sunday's game hitting a team-high .510 with 18 RBIs in only 13 games. The South Medford High graduate was moved from the No. 5 spot in the batting order to third, and helped get the ball rolling with a sacrifice fly in the first inning to plate Dustin Smith, whose on-base percentage ranks third on the team among the regulars.

Boyd singled in his second at-bat to extend his hitting streak to nine games, while Dustin Smith walked three times and reached base on a strikeout when the wild pitch eluded Corvallis catcher Matt Hill.

"We kinda switched up the lineup and I think it's working for us," said Boyd. "We've got a lot of talent in our lineup, so that makes it easier when you know the next guy is going to pick you up."

"It's different, obviously, because when you're hitting fifth you see a lot more fastballs," the third baseman added on the lineup change, "but I hit third during school ball so it's not that big of an adjustment."

Logan Odom backed Boyd in his usual cleanup spot by going 3-for-4 with two runs and two RBIs off singles in the first and sixth innings. The former North Medford High standout entered the game batting .400, while Lewis Sebrell (.357) and Trent Smith (.300) are the only others hitting above .275.

"We've probably been pressing a little bit," said Kensinger. "If you look at our statistics, there are some guys that are way down there and the only direction to go is up."

Or, in some cases, simply in the game is their launching point. Reserve first baseman Kody Stevens proved that Sunday, reaching base all five times he came to the plate on three walks and a pair of singles. Stevens, who serves as Odom's backup, also had a pinch-hit RBI single on Thursday to kick-start Medford to a 12-2 win over the Las Vegas Lions.

"I told the kids when you get your opportunity, play hard ... and he's done that," said Kensinger of the recent North Medford High graduate.

In another key effort Sunday, Kory Locken was 2-for-5 with two runs and one RBI after moving to the No. 2 spot in the order. The Phoenix High grad had a leadoff single in the sixth to extend his hitting streak to eight games.

Also, Trent Smith came off the bench to belt a two-run triple in the sixth, Colin Sowers was 2-for-4 with RBI singles in the first and sixth innings, and Zack Earle scored twice to go with one hit and one RBI.

"You can put anyone in this lineup and we're going to be successful," said Boyd, "it's just a matter of time."

"I think Coach K's been testing the waters in the preseason, getting a feel for everyone," he added. "July's when it counts and we'll have a set lineup by then, but in the preseason it's good to do that so we can feel our way out of this."

Besides his play at the plate, Odom also rebounded from a tough outing on Wednesday to earn his third victory in four decisions. The right-hander allowed five hits and two runs in six innings, with four walks and three hit batters.

Odom was able to get out of a bases-loaded jam in the third inning with only one run scored, held Corvallis scoreless despite a leadoff triple by Spencer Crepeaux in the fourth and allowed only one run in the sixth despite Richey's Market runners all over the basepaths.

"He pitched out of three jams where he gave up minimal damage," said Kensinger. "He hit a couple and walked a couple but it was still a lot better outing than his last one."

John Adamson came on in relief of Odom in the seventh inning and sat Corvallis down in order with two strikeouts in his two innings of work.

Jesse Boustead had three of Corvallis' five hits on Sunday, with Thomas McCarthy driving in one run in the third and Cory England scoring after a leadoff walk and an error in the sixth.

The Mustangs return to Harry & David Field on Tuesday with a 4 p.m. doubleheader against Canby.

Corvallis Richey's Market 001 001 00 — 2 5 2

Medford Mustangs 301 004 13 — 12 13 2

Corwin, Cameron (7), Oliveros (8) and Hill; Odom, Adamson (7) and Sowers. W — Odom (3-1). L — Corwin. 3B — C: Crepeaux; M: T. Smith.

Reach reporter Kris Henry at 776-4488, or e-mail

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