Medford second baseman Dustin Smith, right, smiles before tagging out Salem’s Parker Miles during the fifth inning of the Best of the West Wood Bat Challenge at Harry & David Field Saturday. - Jamie Lusch

Salem pins tough loss on Mustangs

The Medford Mustangs were hoping to use Thursday night's late-game heroics as a springboard to bigger and better things, but the Salem Withnell Dodgers had different plans Friday at Harry & David Field.

A two-run double by Salem left fielder Parker Miles erased a 2-0 deficit in the fifth inning, and another two-run hit by Miles two innings later put the Dodgers ahead for good en route to a 6-2 victory on Day 3 of the Best of the West Wood Bat Challenge.

The loss dropped Medford to 1-2 in its own tournament, with the Sierra Sun Devils coming to town today for a 5 p.m. contest at H&D. That game will follow a 2 p.m. contest featuring Salem (10-2) against the Las Vegas Lions.

"That just kinda shows you that in order to be successful you've got to be consistent, and we just haven't been consistent," said Mustangs manager Sandee Kensinger, whose team scored nine runs over the final two innings Thursday to beat Las Vegas 12-2.

The Mustangs (8-4) didn't lack for hard-hit balls on Friday, but only six found safe territory against the Dodgers' sure-handed defense.

"We hit the ball pretty hard tonight at people," said Kensinger. "We're just not getting rewarded. Why that's happening ... that's just baseball. (The Dodgers are) getting hits when they need them and they're using wood bats, so I don't know. Things just aren't falling our way right now."

Medford jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the third after Kory Locken belted a one-out double down the left-field line and then, an out later, traded places with Dustin Smith after his RBI double.

The Mustangs' lead grew to 2-0 with a manufactured run in the fourth. Griff Boyd laced a leadoff double, was moved over to third on a groundout by Jared Smith and plated by a sacrifice fly from Trent Smith.

But instead of building on that momentum, Medford fell into a lull over the final five innings. Trent Smith's two-out triple in the sixth and Boyd's two-out single in the eighth were the lone Mustang hits down the stretch against only two strikeouts.

"We preach that you can't defend a walk and we preach contact outs," said Salem manager Jason Searle. "If we can put the pressure on them to try to slug the ball all around the park, the numbers are in our favor. We feel we have a pretty sound defense so if we can have our pitchers throw strikes and get ground balls and fly balls, we feel as though we can defend that."

The Mustangs echo that philosophy in their game plan, but the execution simply wasn't there Friday.

Salem had its leadoff batter reach base in six of the nine innings, and only a handful of stellar defensive plays by the Mustangs kept the game from getting more out of hand. Medford's pitching combination of starter Charlie Sebrell and Neil Emerson allowed a total of seven walks and two hit batters.

The Dodgers scored in only two innings, but both were sparked by leadoff walks.

"We've got to make them put the ball in play," said Kensinger. "We'll take our chances there."

"This is a new level for Charlie and Neil, and we've seen some good things," added the manager. "They just need to trust their defense. We can put a number of different combinations out there that's going to get the job done defensively."

Medford was able to turn two conventional double plays against Salem, and a third that, at least early on, had the look of being a potential game-changer. The Dodgers loaded the bases with no outs in the second inning, but had two base runners erased in a blink when Jared Smith hauled in a fly ball by Max Price in right field and then sent a strike to catcher Colin Sowers for a tagout of Robbie Jackson at home plate.

Boyd also came up with four slick fielding plays at third base and was the only multiple hitter for Medford, going 2-for-4 with one run scored.

A leadoff walk to Tyson Giza and ensuing double by Doug Bloom put runners in scoring position for Miles in the fifth, and the 16-year-old responded with a two-run double off Sebrell.

A similar setup faced Miles in the seventh when Sebrell walked Price to lead off the inning and was pulled in favor of Emerson, who was greeted by a bunt single from Giza. After both runners were sacrificed over, Miles slapped a two-run single to give Salem a 4-2 advantage.

"He really stepped up for us and came through," said Searle of the Sprague High up-and-comer.

A pair of walks and RBI singles by Matt Cox and Bryson Varay allowed Salem to expand its lead to 6-2 and make a winner of R.J. Phillips, who did just enough to stymie the Mustangs through eight innings before giving way to Jonathan Sigado.

Earlier Friday, Salem edged the East County Knights 6-4 in the Klamath Falls' portion of the Best of the West bracket. Also at Kiger Stadium, the Sierra Sun Devils beat East County 13-5 and the Klamath Falls Falcons topped Corvallis Richey's Market 9-1.

Earlier at Harry & David Field, Las Vegas dropped a pair of games to Richey's Market (8-4) and Fairfield B&L (4-3).

Salem Withnell Dodgers 000 020 400 — 6 9 0

Medford Mustangs 001 100 000 — 2 6 2

C. Sebrell, Emerson (7) and Sowers; Phillips and Varay. W — Phillips (1-0). L — C. Sebrell (1-2). 2B — S: Cox, Bloom, Miles; M: Locken, D. Smith, Boyd. 3B — M: T. Smith.

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

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