One night after spraying the ball all over the field in a 19-hit winning effort against Victoria, the Medford Rogues flexed their muscles in a big way Wednesday night to take control of the West Coast League baseball series at Harry & David Field.
Medford's Kevin Davidson belted the first pitch he saw over the left field fence for his team-best fifth home run and Jerad Casper added a three-run blast for the Rogues as they powered their way to an 8-0 victory over the HarbourCats.
RECAP: Medford starter John Forsythe pitches seven scoreless innings and is supported by home runs from Kevin Davidson and Jerad Casper as the Rogues take Game 2 of the three-game series.
UP NEXT: Victoria at Medford, 10 a.m. today at Harry & David Field.
Davidson finished 2-for-4 with two runs and one RBI, while Casper continues to heat up after a slow start and went 2-for-4 with two runs and three RBIs in front of a crowd of 1,274.
"We're just finding ways to win," said Davidson. "We have a really great supportive group of guys and we're all just finally clicking and coming together."
Matt Taylor, Parker Miles, Niko Pacheco and Joe Chavez also plated runs for the Rogues (16-19), who have won three of their last four games heading into today's series finale against Victoria. Game 3 of the series starts at 10 a.m. so the HarbourCats (15-16) are able to get an earlier return bus trip to Canada.
"With our offensive lineup, there's a lot of confidence when you go out there," said Medford head coach Josh Hogan of his team's versatility. "When everybody goes up there, it's like, 'OK, we can do something.' Each guy can do something different whether it's power guys, speed guys or bunt guys, and I think we've got some guys that are really earning some spots as everyday guys. We're starting to build that culture in what we do offensively and it's pretty cool to see."
The coolest moment of the night, however, may have gone to Rogues starter John Forsythe. In a scheduling quirk, Forsythe won an interesting battle of dueling birthday starters, as he and Victoria's Logan Lombana were each celebrating their 19th birthdays on Wednesday.
"It was just like every other start in terms of the same mental preparation," said the UC Riverside left-hander, "but it's still something special, always, when it's your birthday."
Forsythe pitched seven scoreless innings and earned his second straight victory — first as a starter — by allowing six hits with four strikeouts and two walks. Hailing from Park Ridge, Ill., Forsythe was a late addition to the Rogues roster and increasingly has impressed Hogan and his staff. The 5-foot-10, 175-pounder now boasts a 0.55 ERA in 161/3 innings on the mound.
"When you keep continuously improving and showing that you're going to get the job done, we're going to run you out there," said Hogan. "I liked the matchup against this fastball-hitting team with Johnny up there and he did exactly what we envisioned him to do today. He keeps his pitch count really low and works with good tempo and pounds the zone, and that's what we want out there."
Making matters a little easier for Forsythe was early run support, with Davidson capturing everyone's attention with his first-pitch blast for a quick 1-0 advantage.
"It makes it so much easier to pitch when you're up like that, especially in the first inning when you know you have a run and you have a little leeway from there," added Forsythe.
That one plate-heavy effort was enough to pin the loss on Lombana, who went the distance for his team but was tagged with nine hits and three walks against three strikeouts.
"That was exactly what I was looking for and I got it and just took a nice easy swing at it," said Davidson, who leads Medford with a .385 batting average to go with a WCL-high 27 RBIs.
In his next at-bat, Davidson led off the fourth inning with a double over the head of right fielder Austin Russell.
"He's just been very consistent," Hogan said of Davidson. "He really doesn't honestly try and hit home runs, he just tries to square the baseball up and stay through it. He can hit the baseball to all sides of the field and is kind of the complete package as a right-handed hitter."
After a sacrifice bunt by A.J. Balta, who earlier extended his hitting streak to 10 games with a first-inning single, Niko Pacheco drew a two-out walk to set the stage for Casper, who didn't disappoint. The Oregon State junior crushed a Lombana offering well over the scoreboard in left field for a three-run home run — his third in 13 WCL games for Medford.
"Having Jerad Casper in the seven-hole is kind of a nice luxury," added Hogan. "He went into a little slump in the middle there but right now he's getting his foot down and squaring the baseball up very consistently. It's very good to see that right now."
Casper raised his batting average to .283 with the outing. The third baseman/relief pitcher joined teammate Ray McIntire of Nevada as Rogues players added to the WCL South All-Star roster as injury replacements earlier in the day. Davidson, Bret DeRooy and Justin Jacome, who will sit out Tuesday's contest with elbow inflammation, were previously named to the all-star squad.
Wednesday's outing was the fastest game of the season for the Rogues, who finished the HarbourCats off in 2 hours, 11 minutes in posting only their second shutout of the summer.
Catcher Alex Real went 3-for-5 to pace Victoria, which was stymied over the final two innings by Medford relief pitchers Dillon Keene and Jeff Hardy.
ab r h bi ab r h bi
Richards ss 5 0 0 0 Smith cf 3 0 0 0
Ellis dh 3 0 0 0 Taylor rf 4 0 1 1
Real c 5 0 3 0 Davidsn dh 4 2 2 1
Russell rf 5 0 1 0 Balta lf 2 1 1 0
Lewis 1b 4 0 1 0 Miles 2b 4 1 1 1
J. Shkht 2b 4 0 0 0 Pacheco 1b 3 1 1 1
LaVelle 3b 2 0 1 0 Casper 3b 4 2 2 3
Smith lf 4 0 0 0 Sowers c 1 0 0 0
Darr cf 4 0 0 0 Chavez ss 2 1 1 1
Totals 36 0 6 0 Totals 27 8 9 8
Victoria 000 000 000 —0
Medford 100 310 12x —8
E—Richards, Russell, Sowers, Chavez 2. DP—Victoria 1. LOB—Victoria 13, Medford 2. 2B—Davidson, Miles. HR—Davidson (5), Casper (3).
IP H R ER BB SO
Lombana, L (0-1) 8 9 8 8 3 3
Forsythe, W (2-0) 7 6 0 0 2 4
Keene 1 0 0 0 1 1
Hardy 1 0 0 0 1 1
WP—Lombana, Forsythe. Umpires—Home, Alex Chavez First, Scott Rice Third, Craig Compton. T—2:11. A—1,274.