Westrick dominates with a 10-hit shutout in Game 1 of the two-ticket sweep
It’s not often that you can build a 6-0 lead without the virtue of a single hit, but that’s precisely what the Medford Mustangs accomplished on Saturday in their opener of a double bill at North Medford High.
Medford capitalized on six walks, one batter and four wild pitches to cycle through the batting order at the bottom of the first inning to set the tone for the visiting Humboldt Eagles, ultimately using a fourth inning shootout to pass the rule. leniency in a 12-0 win in five sets in Game 1.
The hits did not return in Game 2 until the fourth inning, but, as in Game 1, they came in clusters to help the Mustangs (10-1) complete an American Legion AAA baseball sweep with a 9-2 win.
“We have to do a better job getting there and expect ground in the area and be ready for it,” Mustangs manager Nate Mayben said. “It’s tough sometimes when you have a lot of balls, but we still have to do a better job of staying mentally prepared.”
“I was a little frustrated when we got to hit a pitch, we just weren’t on time,” he added. “Those first three sets were pretty frustrating, but they did a good job in that fourth set and put the ball into play.”
Throws weren’t a problem for Game 1 starter Eli Westrick. The Ashland product was dialed on his first pitch, striking out 10 scoreless strikes in a two-hit shutout that took his record to 3-0.
“I didn’t have the best start in the bullpen, but when we got on the pitch I just wanted to fill the area,” Westrick said. “When you haven’t seen a team like this, that’s really all you can do when you don’t know how well they’re going to swing it. I started throwing a lot of fastballs for strikes and then continued to do so throughout the game.
The only hits Westrick allowed was a debut single from Mateo Gutierrez, who was initially well in front of the pitch but held back enough to beef up the ball over shortstop Zac Ankeny. After two straight strikeouts, main hitter Keenan Morris passed a ball to the center before Westrick rose to the challenge again with another strikeout.
“His curve was really good and he mixed his change there as well, and he had guys swinging over it,” Mayben said of the gangly right-hander, “and then he knew when he could. Warm him up a little bit and go up the stairs. He did a good job going up the stairs and making the guys swing and miss that. It was a good job for him all around the mound.
Westrick’s poise was also remarkable after having to endure long breaks between trips to the mound as his teammates battled Humboldt.
“It’s just a sign of a guy who’s a veteran,” Mayben said. “He knows what to do and when to be ready. He has a cool head and is not frustrated there. He throws between the innings if he needs to and he takes care of business.
“What I like about Eli is that you don’t have to say a word to him,” he added. “He’s here getting ready for the next round and just goes over there and throws a lot of holds. He just does a solid job on the mound, can’t wait for him to do it all summer.
For his part, Westrick said the breaks while he throws were always nice because it equates to running support, but Saturday has been a bit long at times.
“I was probably throwing as much as I would have if I had played a full game (in seven innings),” said Westrick, “just because each inning was so long I had to throw the ball in between to fill. time and stay warm.
Another advantage when he takes the mound for the Mustangs, according to Westrick, is the security he has in the defense behind him.
“The thing that I noticed in this group that really stands out from the other teams that I have played with, is that the defense is so strong with this group. I never have to worry about balls that are on the ground or I never have to worry about balls that are in the air, we play every time.
Mayben fully agrees with the first results of the season.
“The thing I enjoy the most right now is probably our defensive play,” he said. “Defensively, we played very solid baseball. We’re proud of it and we take a few hits off, so I really like that.
After scoring four runs in the first inning, the Mustangs had two more in a third inning without a hitting on four walks, a feint, a fielder pick and the error that followed.
Interestingly, it was a hard-hit lining from Josh Baptiste that resulted in a double play to end the third inning that appeared to revive the Medford hitters.
In the Mustangs’ next at-bat, Tanner Douglas snatched a teeing off over the head of the center fielder who generally could have gone for two goals if the outfield hadn’t been so softened by the rain. After Ankeny walked on a walk, Jace Miller threw a two-run brace towards the fence at center-left and suddenly Medford drove every pitch close to the plate.
Solid singles from Chase Costati and Jeremiah Robbins kept the offense going, and Rowan Amann’s RBI single was followed by a ground RBI by Cody Borraggine to take the lead to 10-0. Baptiste was then hit with a pitch before Douglas could stuff Medford’s mercy rule cushion with a two-run single on the right field line.
In Game 2, Tanner Douglas struck out five with three walks and four hits allowed in five scoreless innings to claim the victory.
Westrick gave Medford a spark when his brace in the fourth inning unleashed a streak of nine straight Mustangs to reach base in a seven-point frame.
Borraggine was 3-for-4 with one run and three RBIs and Amann was 2-for-2 with two runs and one RBI in Game 2.
Morris provided a single with two outs and two runs in the seventh to avoid another shutout for Humboldt. Curtis Edge had already walked and moved to third place on a double from Hunter Davis.
Humboldt’s Eagles 00000—021
Johnson, Letter (1) and Rodgers; Westrick and Robbins. F – Westrick (3-0). L – Johnson. 2B – M: Miller.
Medford Mustangs000720x — 990
Minton, Gutierrez (4) and Rodgers; Douglas, Newman (6) and Robbins. F – Douglas (2-0). L – Minton. 2B – H: Nichols, Davis; M: Borraggine 2, Westrick.
Contact reporter Kris Henry at 541-776-4488, [email protected], www.facebook.com/krishenryMT or www.twitter.com/Kris_Henry
Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune Medford Mustangs right-hander Eli Westrick throws in Game 1 on Saturday at North Medford High against the Humboldt Eagles.
Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneMustangs Zac Akeny slips home to score in Game 1 on Saturday at North Medford High.
Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneMustangs Chase Costati connects for a hit in Game 1 on Saturday at North Medford High.
Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneMustangs second baseman Rowan Amann makes a play for a strikeout in Game 1 on Saturday at North Medford High.
Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneMustangs Chase Costati slips home to score in Game 1 on Saturday at North Medford High.
Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneMustangs Tanner Douglas connects for a hit in Game 1 on Saturday at North Medford High.
Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneMustangs shortstop Zac Ankeny makes a play for an out in Game 1 on Saturday at North Medford High.