Wild finish dooms Ashland in District 6 tournament


David Crofton's walk-off home run in the seventh inning and two controversial calls in a wild sixth gave Medford American Blue a 6-5 win over Ashland in the 11-12 District 6 Little League baseball tournament on Monday.

Crofton's blast to straight-away center eliminated Ashland from the double-elimination tournament and lifted Medford to the championship round, where it will face South Suburban tonight and Wednesday, if necessary. Medford needs two straight wins over undefeated South Suburban in order to advance to the state tournament.

Ashland led 5-2 with one out in the sixth when things got crazy. With runners on second and third, Ryan Ross hit a line drive that appeared to skip left of the third-base line but was ruled fair, scoring two and cutting Ashland's lead to 5-4. That brought up Kyle Campbell, who hit a fly to deep right that appeared to land right of the foul line but also was ruled fair, scoring Ross and tying the game.

Noah Yaconelli relieved Ashland starter Ryan Bottimore and retired the side to keep Ashland's hopes alive and send the game into extra innings &

but not without some more drama, a spectacular diving catch by Ashland left fielder Nolan Bradley for the third out.

Bottimore, who hit two home runs in Sunday's win over Medford American Red, allowed seven hits and struck out three in 5 1-3 innings.

After Ashland failed to score in the top of the inning, Yaconelli struck out the first batter he faced before Crofton jumped on the first pitch he saw to end the game. The final score represented Medford's first lead of the game.

Ashland broke a scoreless tie in the third on an RBI double by Austin Zavala and a two-run double by Yaconelli, who finished 3-for-3 with two doubles.

Medford bounced back by scoring two runs on three hits and an error in the bottom of the inning, narrowing Ashland's lead to 3-2.

Ashland struck again in the fifth, using a two-out rally capped by Miles Furuichi's two-run dinger off Crofton to up its lead to 5-2.

Ashland finished the six-team tournament with three wins and two losses.

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