Torrence's game-winning hit dooms Mustangs

Mike Torrence may soon be getting the nickname "Mr. Clutch."

For the third time in four games, the Fairfield, Calif., pitcher/first baseman delivered a game-winning hit at the Best of the West Wood Bat Challenge baseball tournament.

Torrence's latest heroics came in Sunday's third-place game against Medford, when he fouled off six pitches before belting a two-out, two-run single that snapped a 2-2 tie in the seventh inning and sent Fairfield B&L to a 4-3 victory over the Mustangs at Harry and David Field.

"He's one of our best pitchers and we usually don't let him hit when he's pitching, but we might have to reevaluate that," Fairfield manager Brad Hanson said. "Mike had quite a tournament."

On Wednesday, Torrence socked a two-run single in the ninth to beat the Klamath Falls Falcons and he also had the game-winning hit the following day in a win over Susanville, Calif.

Medford (10-6) tried to come back in the bottom of the seventh when Shea Bedortha and Mark Austad hit singles, sandwiched around a Logan Odom walk. Andrew Jones, pinch-running for Bedortha, scored on a wild pitch that pulled the Mustangs within 4-3. But, with two runners still on base, Fairfield B&L winning pitcher Chris Elder struck out Griff Boyd to end the game.

It was that kind of day for Medford, which lost to Yakima to open the tournament on Wednesday and then won three straight before facing Fairfield B&L, which carries a long winning tradition in California. The team is 28-8 this season.

"We didn't get the important two-out hits, and they did," Mustangs manager Sandee Kensinger said.

It wasn't difficult to trace the source of Medford's hitting troubles. They came from Elder and starting pitcher Michael Johnson, who combined to hold the Mustangs to just four hits through the first six innings, and six hits total.

Johnson, a football star at Rodriguez High in Fairfield, retired 10 of the first 12 batters he faced before yielding back-to-back singles to Austad and Boyd with two outs in the fourth and Fairfield B&L clinging to a 1-0 lead. Johnson then issued back-to-back walks to Derek Grieve and Jared Smith that forced in a run and tied the game at 1-1. He then proceeded to hit Zack Earl, which gave Medford a 2-1 lead, before finally striking out leadoff hitter Jordan Boswick to retire the side.

"He's been at a football camp and just got here Thursday," said Hanson of Johnson, who was a co-MVP of the Solano County Athletic Conference last year in football. "He's one of our best athletes."

Hanson said he told Johnson and Elder to give Medford a steady diet of breaking balls after the Mustangs feasted on fastballs during a 13-3 win over the California team on Monday.

"I told them two breaking balls for every fast one," Hanson said. "The formula worked out pretty well."

Fairfield B&L took a 1-0 lead in the fourth on singles by Mike Norris and Elder and Torrence's RBI double, then tied the game at 2-all in the fifth on Elder's RBI single.

Fairfield's seventh-inning rally started when Norris drew a walk off Odom, the losing pitcher. Boyd replaced Odom and gave up a sacrifice bunt to Gibbons and a walk to Elder. One batter later, Torrence worked Boyd for 11 pitches, fouling off six of them, before delivering his game-winning hit.

Odom was lights-out early in the game. He struck out four of the first six batters he faced and retired eight straight before issuing a walk to Andrew Garcia with two out in the third.

"This is a minor setback," said Medford outfielder Mark Austad, the only player on his team to have two hits. "We haven't played a league game yet. We're still a good team. We ran into a good team with good pitching today and lost by a run. It's not a big deal."

Medford now embarks on a three-day, six-game road trip beginning Tuesday in Redmond.

The Mustangs open Area 4 play July 1 with a doubleheader at Grants Pass.

Fairfield, Calif. 000 110 2 — 4 6 0

Medford 000 200 1 — 3 6 2

M. Johnson, Elder (5) and Bible; Odom, Boyd (7) and Grieve. W — Elder (1-0). L — Odom (1-2). 2B — F: Torrence.

Reach reporter Don Hunt at 776-4469 or e-mail

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