The Medford Mustangs rode stellar starting pitching to the American Legion AAA World Series.
FARGO, N.D. — The Medford Mustangs rode stellar starting pitching to the American Legion AAA World Series.
A stalled offense, however, doomed the Mustangs in the opening round of the Series Friday.
Midland, Mich., relief pitcher Chad Mayle pitched 5 2⁄3 innings of scoreless, one-hit relief. His performance sparked Midland to 4-2 victory at Newman Outdoor Field.
Medford (45-11) scored both its runs in the fourth inning on fielder’s choices.
“We did not get hits when we needed them, and the two runs we scored, I don’t think we hit the ball out of the diamond,” Medford coach Sandee Kensinger said.
Medford was scheduled to meet Berlin, Conn., (34-7) in the first game Saturday in loser-out play.
That contest will be pushed back because rain forced postponement of Thursday’s final first-round contest between Rowan County, N.C., and Festus, Mo. Those teams will play Saturday at 8:30 a.m. local time, weather permitting. The Medford-Berlin game would follow at about 11:30 a.m., or 9:30 a.m. Pacific.
The Mustangs plan to start left-hander Jordan Lewis against Berlin.
“We’ve got our No. 1 going tomorrow, just because he’s been going on three days rest,” Kensinger said. “We felt we needed to do that for him to be as sharp as he can be. I mean, he’s the winningest pitcher in the history of our program. Hopefully, he can keep us in it.”
The Mustangs had eight hits against Midland, all singles. Designated hitter Mark Maurer paced Medford, going 2-for-3 with a run scored.
“We’re going to work on more patience at the plate and we’re going to come get it tomorrow,” Maurer said. “We weren’t quite all there today, but tomorrow we will be.
“Every at-bat, every pitch is the end now. Now you have to battle back and come get it.”
The 15-year-old Mayle relieved starter Ben Singer with one out in the fourth inning. Mayle got the final two outs in the fourth and cruised from that point.
Mayle retired the Mustangs in order in the fifth, sixth and ninth innings. Mayle retired 10 consecutive batters at one point. Midland committed no errors.
“It’s easy to pitch when you have a defense behind you that will make plays for you,” Mayle said. “I was just hitting my spots and doing what I could.”
Mayle kept the Mustangs off balance, mixing his fastball, curveball and change-up.
“He was throwing a change-up,” Kensinger said. “I mean 78, 79 miles an hour, and he throws his change-up and our guys were watching it. We’ve got to be more aggressive. We just didn’t swing the bats well today.”
“It’s tough when you got a guy throwing not exactly hard,” Maurer said. “It’s hard to be patient because the ball looks like a beach ball … We didn’t sit back, and he was just a good pitcher. He hit his spots and he did what he needed to.”
Medford gave up only one earned run in 43 innings at the Northwest Regional for a 0.21 ERA.
Mustangs starter Neil Emerson (9-1) allowed three earned runs on five hits Friday, pitching 5 1⁄3 innings. He struck out one and walked four as he suffered his first loss this season.
“I thought Neil pitched well enough to win,” Kensinger said. “We did not get hits when we needed them.”
Medford loaded the bases with no outs in the fourth, starting the inning with three consecutive singles.
The Mustangs could only generate two runs in that rally. Lewis Sebrell and Chris Bradshaw each drove in runs on fielder’s choices.
“We need guys to step up better,” Kensinger said. “It got us to this point. I know there’s a lot of pressure on these kids, the World Series. The good players step up.”
Eric Peterson is a sports writer for The Forum of Fargo, N.D.