All apologies to former South Medford standout Matt Retzlaff, who failed to get the recognition he was due last week after it was, in fact, his...
EAGLE POINT — The Southern Oregon Hybrid baseball schedule for several teams has been put in a state of flux recently after a Friday night incident in Eagle Point resulted in a violation of the school's extracurricular code of conduct policy by a handful of baseball players.
Eagle Point Athletic Director Bryan Wood would not supply a final number of those who had violated the policy when reached Wednesday, but disputed the notion that around eight to 11 players had received citations by local police at a party on Friday.
The late-night issue, combined with a secondary school function Wood said left some players unavailable, forced Eagle Point's hand when it came to varsity and junior varsity games scheduled in Roseburg on Saturday and in Grants Pass on Tuesday. The varsity games were canceled in both situations, although a junior varsity game was still played each day.
"We've had some students disciplined for team violations," Wood said. "We don't want to say much more with the kids' names but it was definitely not 11, I know that."
"Actually it was not a very large number," he added, "we are just fairly small in our numbers overall. On our varsity there may have been two kids that were involved and that's approximate without having the names directly in front of me. But the overall is not 11."
In a check of Eagle Point's baseball roster on the Oregon School Activities Association's ScoreCenter website, the Eagles show 16 members on the varsity and 14 on the junior varsity. All but six varsity players are seniors, while the JV team carries eight freshmen.
Wood said assistant athletic director Travis Osborne, who also serves as an assistant coach to Adam Randall on the varsity team, has been busy making contact with remaining schools on the team's schedule and updating them on their situation to determine whether future games will be played or canceled.
"We're committed and we will play a varsity schedule, although some of those schools may choose not to play us," said Wood. "We're going to honor our commitments and play baseball, there are a lot of great kids out here looking forward to it."
The Eagles' first game back since the turn of events is scheduled at 4:30 p.m. today against Grants Pass at Eagle Point High, and is an endowment game.
Making matters even more difficult is how Roseburg and Grants Pass, and future teams for that matter, approach potential games lost by Eagle Point's circumstances. By canceling any dates with the 6-10 Eagles, that opens up a possibility to schedule another game with a program that might provide a more positive impact on that team's state power ranking. A forfeit goes down as a victory but also means missing out on one of 26 games allowed by the OSAA.
"It's pure craziness and I don't understand it but we're just trying to figure out how to make it work and what's best for the kids," said Grants Pass baseball coach Brian Diatte, whose team added a game against Ashland on Saturday to offset the loss. The Cavemen had already been slated to play one game against the Grizzlies that day and now will make it a doubleheader.
"We had to pick up a game and were lucky enough that Ashland had an opening," added Diatte of the No. 1 team in the Class 5A power rankings. EP is 25th in those same rankings.
Peter Weber, an OSAA assistant executive director, said there is no set policy on whether makeup dates are necessary or whether forfeits over cancellations would be in play given Eagle Point's situation.
"It's a little unique because of the hybrid piece of the puzzle," said Weber. "Technically even though they're in a hybrid it's not a league game when a 5A team plays a 6A, so in that sense it's simply a nonleague game and canceling a game, while it's frowned upon, is allowed. It's different than if it was a league game, they don't even necessarily have to reschedule it if it doesn't work out or they can't find a common date to use."
There is also no rule stating that if you field a team, first priority must go to the varsity level of competition. As on Saturday and Tuesday, the Eagles were able to field a blended team but played at the JV level.
"That's the part that's a little bit iffy to me," said Weber, "but we don't tell a team who's JV and who's varsity. It's up to them to determine."
EP head coach Adam Randall did not respond to multiple attempts to reach him Monday and Wednesday, and a Wednesday message went unreturned by Osborne to learn more of the Eagles' plans for the remainder of the season.
"We're scheduled to play every 6A school one time, that's the agreement in this hybrid deal we're in," said Wood. "Any games above that are under an individual basis. With everything out there with the power rankings, some want to play you and some don't, and that's just a regular scheduling issue for us."
"At this point and time we're doing what's best for our team and our kids," he added. "We're honoring commitments and are concerned with doing the best thing for both schools involved and keeping the kids at the forefront of all of it to get to a competitive level that's appropriate at both levels."
Roseburg head coach Troy Thompson said he first learned of the matter in a phone call received around 6:30 a.m. Saturday.
"Bright and early Saturday morning I got a call from coach Randall and he informed me of their situation," said Thompson, whose team trails only North Medford in the 6A power rankings. All five 6A SOH teams are among the top 10. "Obviously he'd had a terrible night and a long night trying to deal with all that. He and their administration decided that they didn't have the ability to play a varsity game that day and it was decided that wasn't going to happen."
"I don't know all that they're dealing with," he added. "I think it has to do obviously with the sheer number of kids involved and it being older varsity-type players, leaving them with younger kids to play at that level. Who knows what positives or negatives comes from all of that."
Thompson said Randall was up front and apologetic over the change of course brought on by the party violations, adding that he'd never had to make such a call before.
"Obviously it's something you feel bad for the kids at Eagle Point who are trying to do things right," said Thompson, "and I don't really know coach Randall because it's his first year there but to have something like that is no good for anybody. All of us worry about our kids and hope that they make the right decisions. It's not exclusive to one place or Eagle Point or just in this year, but to have it happen like that is unfortunate."
As far as he knew, Thompson and the Indians were using Saturday's date as a non-appearance and would likely look to add a game toward the end of the season in preparation for the playoffs. Wood said he would be in contact soon with Roseburg Athletic Director Russ Bolin in hopes of a potential makeup date or forfeiture if that's warranted.
A forfeit was the last thing that Diatte wanted, which is why he's already filled his schedule.
"My kids have worked way too hard to be in that situation where they lose a game," he said. "We're already in a situation where you're only given 25 or so games in the regular season so every game means something."
Eagle Point's extracurricular code of conduct policy calls for an athlete's suspension of five to 15 days, depending on the issue at hand, for a first violation. Secondary violations can involve suspension of 20 days to the remainder of the season. Depending on the circumstances, removal from the team is an option even for first-time violations, and all violations are cumulative throughout the school year.
Reach reporter Kris Henry at 541-776-4488, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.facebook.com/krishenryMT or www.twitter.com/Kris_Henry