Eugene completes state title run with 13-6 win
PORTLAND - For only the third time in American Legion baseball history, a Eugene team has won the state title in Oregon and will represent the state at the regional tournament beginning Wednesday.
The Eugene Challengers completed a stirring run to the title by winning its fifth consecutive elimination game, 13-6, over Medford in the tournament final at Concordia University.
Gaje McDaniel drove in three runs and scored three times to power the Eugene offense, which scored 12 runs in the final two innings.
Joe Schindler held Medford to four runs over eight innings and the Challengers won the state title for the first time since 1999. Eugene lost its first game in the double-elimination tournament, but then won five straight, including a 5-4 win over the Salem Dodgers Sunday prior to the Medford win.
"This was our goal all season," Eugene coach Todd Zeigler said. "We wanted to represent Oregon at the regional tournament."
Eugene begins play in the eight-team regional Wednesday in Billings, Mont. The tournament includes state champions from Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Wyoming, Alaska, Hawaii, Montana and a host team from the Billings region. Hawaii is the defending champion.
Eden Prairie, Minn., is the defending World Series champion, having beaten Tupelo, Miss., 5-4 in a 13-inning title game after winning a game earlier in the day.
The World Series is scheduled for Shelby, N.C., where is has a permanent home. A team from Oregon has won the title just once - 1969, although five other teams have played in the Series final.
Medford, which lost to Eugene 7-4 Saturday, lost in the state final for the third straight year after reaching the World Series title game in 2009.
The Mustangs, who won their opening three games of the tournament, led 4-1 entering the eighth and were still ahead 4-2 with two out when Travis Boggs reached by being hit on a 3-2 pitch and Kevin Eyster and McDaniel hit run-scoring singles to tie the score. The Challengers went ahead 6-4 on a misplayed fly to right field, then sent 13 batters to the plate in the ninth.
In the ninth, Eugene sent 13 batters to the plate and scored seven runs, with the bases loaded as the inning ended.