The Medford Mustangs will have to battle their way out of the losers bracket in order to claim the program's sixth regional title after falling to Cheyenne Post 6, 10-0, Wednesday in the first round of the American Legion AAA Northwest Regional Tournament at Ogren Park in Missoula, Montana.
Nico Vite had three hits and three RBIs, including a two-run single in the sixth, and Cody Brooks tossed a shutout as Cheyenne cooled off the formerly hot Mustangs to advance to the winner's bracket semifinals.
The loss means the Mustangs (36-11-1), who saw their seven-game winning streak snapped, will have to win four games in a row to advance to their fourth straight regional championship game. The long road back begins today against the Mid Pacific Institute (Hawaii)-Bozeman Post 14 (Montana) loser.
Medford had plenty of chances to rattle Brooks, but left runners stranded in scoring position in the second, third, fourth and sixth innings. Double plays squelched Medford scoring opportunities in both the second and the third, and Tate Cowden's line drive to left with runners on first and third in the top of the seventh was hauled in, preventing the Mustangs from cutting into a 5-0 deficit.
The Sixers (52-19) finished the game shortly thereafter, scoring five runs in the bottom of the seventh to clinch the game early by the 10-run mercy rule. Vite's RBI single made it 9-0 and Brandon Todd followed with another to lock it up.
Cole Carder was 1-for-3 with a double for Medford, which managed only seven hits three days after completing a 5-0 state tournament run that saw the Mustangs score 70 runs.
Ashland's Nick Sanderson, who hit .600 with six RBIs at state, was 0-for-2 Wednesday as Medford's designated hitter. Ashland's Kellar Edwards came on in relief in the seventh and surrendered four runs on five hits.
Joe Zavala is a reporter for the Ashland Daily Tidings. Reach him at 541-821-0829 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @Joe_Zavala99.