Second baseman Ruben Cedillo, left, catches runner Michael LaVigne for an out. Photo by Denise Baratta
This year’s run hasn’t been quite the same, but the build-up and excitement for another summer of wood-batting college baseball has been palpable for the Medford Rogues.
âLast year, we put it all together in 29 days,â Rogues general manager Dave May said of a 2020 campaign that was approved late amid tight COVID-19 restrictions in the country. State. âThis year, I feel a bit further ahead of schedule, although I really don’t. You feel that because of the frantic way we put in place last year to make things happen. “
âWe’re just excited to be back to where the Medford Rogues were before the pandemic,â May added, âto get back to what we know and it’s fun and fun and great baseball on the field. the restrictions keep lifting and the more these things lift, the more fun we can have. “
In the franchise’s ninth year, the Rogues open their eight-week season Thursday against the Fresno A’s at Harry & David Field. Doors open for all home games at 5:30 p.m. and the first pitch is at 6:35 p.m., with tickets available for purchase at medfordrogues.com.
The opening night and the Saturday competition, which includes a fireworks display, are the only sold-out games. There will be another fireworks display on July 3.
The games will not be broadcast this summer, neither online nor on the radio.
With a 15% seat capacity currently authorized by Oregon Health Authority regulations, this summer offers more viewing opportunities than a year ago when the cut-off point was 250 fans. About 150 social distancing bleachers will also be available for purchase at $ 10 apiece, with a handful of lower section Strike Zone seats available for purchase at $ 13.
Given the design of the stadium, with a 75-person patio for private parties and a grass berm that now includes picnic tables and shade canopies for additional vantage points, the Rogues s expect capacity to reach around 400 for this season until all restrictions are lifted if the state hits the 70% vaccination threshold.
âEveryone is so excited to be playing in front of people again,â said second-year Rogues manager Bill Rowe. âNot all of the guys got to play in front of their college fans so knowing that the community will be supporting them this summer and people are excited to come to the games, the feeling on the field is just exhilarating, with baseball. normal and bring a crowd back over there and play for them soon here.
The Rogues will return to the Golden State Collegiate Baseball League with a shortened 16-game list this summer after the GSCBL canceled its season a year ago due to COVID-19. They also added non-league games against the Corvallis Knights, Bend Elks and Lincoln Potters.
âThese are three of the top 25 summer college baseball teams,â said May, âso it will be good to face these teams.â
On the pitch, May said he was excited about the squad of players coming up this summer, many of whom are familiar to Medford fans after returning from the 22-8 squad last year.
âWe’re really excited for the group we have to come,â May said. âCoach Rowe and (assistant coach Parker Berberet) did a fantastic job. I can’t praise them enough for the job they’ve done to get the players we have. It’s pretty competitive to find college baseball players overall and they recruited very early on and it is showing now. We’ve had a few practice sessions already and they’re going to be a really good team.
Key returns among positional players include infielders Omar Ortiz, Caleb Schorr, Jason Dumont and Emiliano Alarcon, and outfielders Jackson Hall and Drew Steelhammer.
The Rogues outscored their opponents last summer averaging 10.7 to 6.7 points per game, posting an aggregate batting average of 0.344 per team.
âWe’re just delighted to have all of these players back,â Rowe said. âThere’s a reason we got them back, not only are they great athletes, but they’re just guys of very high character. I think what impressed us the most last year was how well our team got off. Nobody got in trouble, everyone was super focused and it’s not always easy to do when playing summer ball.
Third baseman Ortiz scored 35 points to lead the team and was second in RBI (28) with his batting average of .349.
Steelhammer reached 0.422 with 33 RBIs and 20 RBIs, while Dumont (0.310, 31 RBIs), Alarcon (0.354, 29 RBIs), Schorr (20 RBIs) and Hall (0.327, 18 RBIs) points, 18 RBI) also played a prominent role.
Returning pitchers include Griffin Henry (3-0, 4.32 ERA), who led the team with 26 strikeouts in 25 innings, as well as Jack Erickson (1-1, 5.68 ERA) and Sebasten Boivin (3.86 ERA).
âThis season we’re just extremely amplified,â Rowe said. “We picked up almost all of our favorite players from last season, and we just added an arsenal of killer talent in my opinion.”
Thanks to the relationships built during Rowe and Berberet’s days at Oregon State, the Rogues also plan to introduce a pair of Arizona pitchers to Hunter Cope and Ryan Kysar, who have been under the leadership of the former OSU and current coach. Nate Yeskie Wildcats pitchers.
Rowe said the 6-foot-10, 260-pound Cope will throw up to 97 mph and could definitely be one to watch this summer.
Oregon State’s Ryan Brown and Van Larson will also add to a rotation brimming with many young talent, while the OSU connection with Andy Jenkins, currently a staff member at Cal State Fullerton, helped add another edge to outfielder Jake Gentry. .
âThe relationship that Coach Berberet and I have with the varsity coaches has really turned out to be the X factor with the quality of the players we get,â Rowe said. “We really appreciate all the confidence they have placed in us to send their guys here.”
Medford will start the summer roster, however, with just 11 positional players and about a dozen pitchers as the Rogues await the arrival of some Division I players. That makes it interesting given that Medford is playing 12 games in 11 days for start the season.
âLast year we relied on our coaching staff (to pitch a few innings) in some situations and we were lucky to be able to do that,â Rowe said of pitching duties, âbut this year, playing in our league again, we’re not going to be able to do it when we need it, so we’ll just try to make sure we have enough arm to go through and keep everyone safe. â
Added the May start-of-season issues brought each season by limited player availability in early June: âIt doesn’t give you a ton of flexibility, but we have a few guys we call Swiss Army Knives and they can plug in and play n ‘wherever and that will give us an advantage at the start of the season over these other teams who also have low numbers.
For more information, visit medfordrogues.com or contact reception at 541-973-2883.
Contact reporter Kris Henry at 541-776-4488, [email protected], www.facebook.com/krishenryMT or www.twitter.com/Kris_Henry
The rider Emiliano Alarcon passes 2nd. Photo by Denise Baratta
Teppei Fukuda, (22), passes 3rd base for a score. Photo by Denise Baratta
Pitcher Jacob Memmott, (33). Photo by Denise Baratta
Pitcher Matt Ager, (34). Photo by Denise Baratta
Pitcher Heith Rasica (35). Photo by Denise Baratta
Pitcher Eric Roher (30). Photo by Denise Baratta