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MailTribune.com
  • BASEBALL

    Rogues land honors

    Medford squad has five players named to WCL All-Star roster
  • A solid start to the West Coast League baseball season helped the Medford Rogues garner five selections to Monday's WCL All-Star Game in Klamath Falls, as announced Tuesday by WCL President Dennis Koho.
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    • WCL ALL-STAR GAME
      WHEN, WHERE: Monday, 6:35 p.m., Kiger Stadium in Klamath Falls.
      • HOME RUN DERBY: Set to begin at 5:10 p.m. prior to the All-Star Game, with one representative from each team taking part....
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      WCL ALL-STAR GAME
      WHEN, WHERE: Monday, 6:35 p.m., Kiger Stadium in Klamath Falls.

      • HOME RUN DERBY: Set to begin at 5:10 p.m. prior to the All-Star Game, with one representative from each team taking part.
      • ROGUES REPRESENTATIVES: Catcher Tanner Lubach, first baseman Victor Garcia Jr., center fielder Spencer Smith, left-handed pitcher David Peterson and right-handed pitcher Nathan Kuchta.
  • A solid start to the West Coast League baseball season helped the Medford Rogues garner five selections to Monday's WCL All-Star Game in Klamath Falls, as announced Tuesday by WCL President Dennis Koho.
    Rogues players selected to the South Division roster, as voted on by league coaches and fans, were catcher Tanner Lubach, first baseman Victor Garcia Jr., center fielder Spencer Smith, left-handed pitcher David Peterson and right-handed pitcher Nathan Kuchta.
    "It's great recognition for our guys," said Rogues General Manager Chuck Heeman, "and the guys that are going all deserve it. They've been solid guys all year long on the field."
    South Division players included representatives from the Medford Rogues, Corvallis Knights, Klamath Falls Gems, Bend Elks, Kitsap BlueJackets and Cowlitz Black Bears.
    North Division players included representatives from the Wenatchee AppleSox, Yakima Valley Pippins, Walla Walla Sweets, Bellingham Bells, Victoria HarbourCats and Kelowna Falcons.
    The Rogues and Knights tied with the most players selected to the South roster at five apiece, while Bellingham will have the most players in uniform on the North roster with six.
    "Obviously I can't be more proud of these guys," said Heeman. "To have five guys on an All-Star team out of a 21-man roster, that means a quarter of them are ours and that's pretty flattering."
    In addition, former Grants Pass High standout Nathan Etheridge will represent the Rogues in the WCL Home Run Derby prior to Monday's game at Kiger Stadium. One player from each team will compete in the derby, with first baseman Kevin Davidson finishing second last year for the Rogues.
    "I'm excited," Etheridge said of his opportunity. "It's going to be fun to go out there and see how it goes. I've never done (a Home Run Derby) before so I'm looking forward to it."
    The Klamath Falls ballpark is notoriously hitter-friendly, but Etheridge said he's taking nothing for granted heading into the derby. He is currently batting .351 with three home runs, 15 runs and 19 RBIs through 25 games.
    "It's never easy to hit it out," said the 6-foot-5, 220-pounder. "Kiger's a little easier than some other parks, but really I'm just excited for a little All-Star fun. I've definitely heard it changes your swing a little bit (to be in the derby) but I'm just going to go and swing and hopefully it works out."
    Lubach's trip from the University of Nebraska has been a successful one for all involved thus far, with the junior catcher batting .368 with 17 runs and 10 RBIs in 17 games played. Lubach has struck out only five times in 57 at-bats and has been an anchor to the Rogues' defense with his strong arm behind the plate.
    Garcia shares the WCL lead in home runs with six and is batting .307 with 18 runs and 29 RBIs in 25 games with the Rogues after completing his freshman season at Texas Pan-American. Garcia has only struck out 10 times in 88 at-bats.
    Smith, who will play for the University of Oregon next season, was a key component to Medford's run to the WCL playoffs last year and has provided solid leadership this season for the second-year franchise. The center fielder has shaken off an early slump to bat .293 with 25 runs and eight RBIs in the leadoff spot.
    "I'm excited to see those guys play and tear it up for the Rogues," added Etheridge, who is coming off his sophomore year at Western Oregon University.
    Kuchta, a freshman at Cypress College, has shown the versatility to help Medford's pitching staff in a number of ways this season, starting six of his nine games but also earning one save to go with solid efforts in relief. Kuchta boasts a team-leading 412/3 innings pitched and has amassed a 3-1 record and 2.16 ERA with 28 strikeouts against only nine walks.
    "Kuchta will do anything you ask him to do and has been really good for us," said Heeman.
    Peterson is an impressive 4-0 with a 2.54 ERA in 281/3 innings pitched thus far after joining the Rogues from Regis Jesuit High School in Colorado. An ankle injury his senior year sidelined Peterson and likely was responsible for the projected high-round pick to fall in the first-year major league player draft. He opted to honor his commitment to the University of Oregon and expects to be a key contributor next season.
    "We knew Peterson when he was coming in was going to be really good," said Heeman, "and now he's kind of recovered from the ankle injury he had and he's really starting to dominate the league. I think after the All-Star game you'll see that a lot more."
    Medford also had five players selected to last year's WCL All-Star Game but an injury and missing passport for one player left the Rogues to field only three in the event in Victoria, British Columbia.
    Wenatchee manager Ed Knaggs will lead the North team, while Klamath Falls manager Mitch Karraker will head up the South squad.
    The most represented colleges on this year's WCL All-Star Game rosters are Gonzaga with three. Arizona State, Creighton, Lewis-Clark State College, Linfield College, Oregon and Portland each have two representatives.
    Heeman said the next two WCL All-Star games are slated for Cowlitz (2015) and Kelowna (2016).
    The Rogues (18-15) return to Harry & David Field Thursday to open a three-game series against Kelowna before taking a two-day break during All-Star festivities.
    Reach reporter Kris Henry at 541-776-4488, khenry@mailtribune.com, www.facebook.com/krishenryMT or www.twitter.com/Kris_Henry
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