Challengers Win Third Ever State Title, First Since ’99
PORTLAND, ORE. – The Eugene Challengers took care of business at Concordia University, host site of the 2012 Oregon American Legion Baseball State Tournament, coming out as state champions. The Challengers were victors over Medford, 13-6, scoring all 13 of their runs in the final three innings of the championship game.
Medford added two runnings in the bottom-half of the ninth inning, but were unable to keep the rally going. Star OF Ryan Land was awarded tournament MVP. Despite a 4-0 deficit, the Challengers never kept themselves out of the ballgame. Eugene put up one run in the seventh inning, five in the eighth and seven crucial runs in the ninth.
Even with Land not playing his best baseball in the final game (1-of-6 and three runners LOB), RF Zach Eyster went 2-of-4, scoring two runs and adding two RBIs. Along with Eyster, C Gaje McDaniel went 3-of-4, scoring three runs and adding three RBIs.
Third basemen Garret Harpole put in a great performance defensively, contributing eight assists and one putout. Offensively, he went 2-of-5 with one run scored and an RBI.
Challengers’ pitcher Joe Schindler pitched eight innings for Eugene, allowing four earned runs and striking out five batters. Schindler received the win while Nate Namanny (0.2 innings, four runs, two earned runs) of Medford received the loss.
Eugene played fundamental baseball, not creating an errors and played smart on the base paths. The reason for the team not scoring until the seventh inning can be attributed to the 11 men who were left on base. The Challengers’ struggled early on hitting with runners in scoring position.
Medford struggled as well, leaving seven men on base. They left fewer due simply to the fact that they were out-hit in the ballgame. Eugene went 13-of-41 (.317) from the plate while Medford went 8-of-33 (.242) in the game.
The win marked the Challengers’ third state title in 37 appearances, and their first since the 1999 season. While the Challengers’ season in Oregon is now over, the team will compete in the Regional Tournament in Billings, MT August 9th-August 13th representing the state of Oregon. Their first game will be August 9th around 6pm PDT. All games will be broadcast live on radio 840am KKNX and online at radio84.com.
Eugene will compete against other NW teams for the right to advance to the national tournament. Their first game will be Thursday at 6:00 pm PDT.
The Challengers have announced that they have been selected to host the 2013 and 2014 American Legion Baseball Northwest Regional Tournament. As the host, the Challengers will compete with the state champions of the seven local region states (Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Alaska, and Hawaii) for a chance to go to the American Legion Baseball World Series in North Carolina. This marks the first time the Challengers will host a regional tournament.