After a stunning 17-3 start, Medford opens seats at Harry & David Field
Medford Rogues chief executive Dave May was up at 6 a.m. Thursday, working diligently on his team’s online ticketing system to open seating at Harry & David Field.
Besides the monotony of the job, it was definitely a labor of love for May after Oregon Gov. Kate Brown and the Oregon Health Authority agreed to remove the mask and social distancing regulations effective. July 1.
“Clicking 270 points 22 times is just mind-numbing,” May said with a laugh, “but I’m happy to do it.”
Getting back to full capacity at the ballpark is something May and the company have been waiting for for over a year.
The Rogues fought against the cancellation of the Golden State Collegiate Baseball League season in 2020, exploiting a curtailed season with a capacity capped at 250 in the stadium, and even went so far as to cut seats at H&D for themselves. ensure they were on top of the regulations. for 2021 which started with 15% of available capacity and increased to 20% under COVID-19 protocols.
Seats have been returned to their proper place over the past three days, and now the Rogues look forward to welcoming their fanbase in full order for a final month of the season which includes 22 home dates ahead of the Collegiate Summer season. bats. Completed.
“Our goal from day one was to see this thing until we got back to normal, I guess with quotes on normal there,” May said. “We said from day one that we weren’t going anywhere and the pandemic wouldn’t stop what we were trying to do and what our vision was and now that we’re out of it, it’s a sense of relief. “
“A lot of restaurants and small businesses here locally went bankrupt and it was on our minds all the time that this was not going to happen,” he added. “Playing last year with 250 people here obviously doesn’t help the outcome compared to what our normal presence was before the pandemic, but now we have the full green light and we can really show what we’re doing and put in obviously a team that is probably one of the best teams we’ve ever had.
Medford opened a four-game homestand with the California Bees Thursday night with a 17-3 record and positioned to tie the best start in franchise history. The Rogues went 20-3 to open a 2019 season that included a second place finish in the GSCBL Championship and a final record of 39-14.
“It’s a real quality team that will do some good things here on the home stretch,” May said of his Rogues. “They were a lot of fun to watch.”
In addition to 6:35 p.m. starts Thursday and today, the series includes a double Saturday 5 p.m. program that features a 15-minute fireworks display at the end of game two. It will be the second fireworks display this season by the Rogues.
“The Medford Fire Department is on board with this as recently as this morning,” May said, noting officials from the department will be on site Saturday as well as professionals trained to handle the fireworks. “Our show is still sold out, but that is obviously subject to change if a big fire breaks out before Saturday or if conditions worsen, which we all hope will not happen.”
“I think this will be the perfect way to kick off the July 4th weekend and kick off the summer,” he added. “I hope we can put on a good show, not just with the fireworks, but also a good show on the baseball field.”
Under second-year manager Bill Rowe, the Rogues earned a victory in their first game of the season thanks to Jake Gentry and didn’t stop with the theater. From homecoming victories to fingernail bite where Medford had to stifle potential last-round rallies from his opponents, this summer has seen a bit of everything.
“We really preach that whatever happens is how you react to what happened,” Rowe said of the nature of the summer baseball roller coaster, “and I think our guys did a great job for that. We even changed the roster almost daily and got production and team wins on almost all of these rosters which is really exciting to see as a coach. You never know which part of the lineup will open up and win a game for you.
A glance at the team managers confirms this, with nine players posting a batting average of 0.300 or better, and two others barely below that standard.
Gentry, a junior at Cal State Fullerton, led the charge all summer with a .417 batting average with 21 RBIs and received considerable help from returning Rogues players Jason Dumont (.394, 17 points), Omar Ortiz (0.367, 13 RBI), Drew Steelhammer (0.348, 13 RBI) and Emiliano Alarcon (0.303).
“Getting that kind of veteran leadership and having those anchors really pushes young guys to come and train harder to try and play at their level,” Rowe said. “All of our high school kids who just graduated and are on a varsity baseball team for the first time, you can see how hungry they are.”
Some of those players who have taken on the new challenge are freshmen Austin Smith, who had five hits in his first two games as Rogue, Jesse Brown (.296), Crosby Albee (.286) and Carson Lydon (.238).
Ruben Cedillo (0.367, 24 points, 26 RBIs) kept pace with Gentry in all categories this summer, while Grant Sherrod (0.344, 17 points, 12 RBIs) and Mike LaVigne (0.302, 22 points) were special spark plugs on the recent stretch to Medford.
When asked what led to the Rogues’ hot start, Rowe said it was down to player buy-in and the excellent coaching from his assistants Parker Berberet and Braden Wells. All three coaches share ties with Oregon State University.
“Parker Berberet and Braden Wells are amazing,” Rowe said, “and I think all of these players realize the level of commitment these coaches give and the information they get from these two guys is helping them perform in in a way they’ve never experienced before, and it’s exciting for them.
On the mound, Medford has enjoyed solid action from a multitude of pitchers as they strive to dial in their release points and practice new pitchers over the summer roster.
Josh Sandoval (3-0, 3.86 ERA), Griff Henry (1-0, 2.65), Ryan Brown (2-0, 2.77), Van Larson (2-0, 1.01), Kaden Miller (1-0, 1.46), Matt Ager (1-0, 2.45) and Skyler Gaudern (3-0).
Arizona-linked Hunter Cope has an impressive 15 strikeouts in five innings pitched, and Jack Erickson leads the team with two saves.
The fact that the Rogues can hear a little louder support through the rest of the summer during home games is something everyone is eager to appreciate.
“We like to have people in the stands to play in front,” Rowe said. “I think that’s something these guys have really come to appreciate over the past couple of years playing in their schools with no one in the crowd. Even the 400-500 people we had at the start of the season seemed like full capacity for us, so that’s going to make it even more fun.
After an average of around 1,000 players available for games in the pre-pandemic days of 2019, the Rogues have dropped from 250 last year to around 450 this summer. Adding an 80% increase to that not only helps improve the atmosphere, but it certainly comes at a convenient time when it comes to franchise results.
“To be honest, I’m happier for our front office and our ownership to have stood firm,” Rowe said. “I’m glad we’ve gotten to this point where we can finally start to maybe see a little bit of profit and maybe start improving some facilities for these guys.”
That’s not to say everyone is ready to run back to the baseball stadium, as May has learned over the past few days after the state was announced to reopen at full capacity at sporting events. .
“It’s a real interesting dilemma,” said May. “We have a bunch of people who say, ‘Open, open, open,’ and there are still some who remain cautious because they always have concerns about reopening everything.”
“I think if we keep opening up and going back to normal,” he added, “we’ll come back to where it won’t be weird to sit next to someone. We have spent a year and half without sitting next to someone you don’t know and now here we are on July 1st and you’re going to sit next to someone you don’t know. I understand the caveat about that, this is safe, but at the same time the health services have made the decision to open up and we will move forward. ”
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Medford Rogues players follow the action Thursday as they take on the California Bees at Harry & David Field. Medford decided to allow full capacity at the baseball stadium on Thursday. Photo by Denise Baratta
Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneHarry & David Field Medford Rogues opening night.