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Medford's Melton to sign with Beavers

In what stands as a dream scenario for Jacob Melton, the former South Medford High baseball star will sign with Oregon State University in an 11 a.m. ceremony Sunday at Harry & David Field.

Melton, a left-handed center fielder, has been one of the top players this spring as a freshman at Linn-Benton Community College and will have three years of eligibility with the Beavers. Former Crater High pitcher Dylan Pearce was part of last year’s national championship team and is a senior reliever on the roster this year.

“I knew going in Linn-Benton was a really good program and they were going to help get me to a good four-year college,” said Melton, who doesn’t turn 19 until September. “I was really hoping it would be Oregon State and I’m really glad it is and everything worked out exactly how I hoped. That’s kind of my dream school so everything’s working out exactly how I wanted it to.”

“Obviously they’re one of the best baseball programs in the country,” added Melton of OSU, “and it was the school I was honestly looking at going to as a kid even if I didn’t play baseball.”

The opportunity didn’t merely fall in Melton’s lap, however. The 6-foot-3, 195-pounder earned it through working hard to hone his craft and putting up the kind of numbers that scream at his potential in a collegiate lineup.

Oregon State first contacted him about a preferred walk-on spot as a junior at South Medford and, in his senior year, he batted .513 with 51 runs, 28 RBIs, 33 stolen bases and as many home runs (8) as he had strikeouts (8) in 76 at-bats as the Panthers’ leadoff hitter.

Melton went on to hit .494 with 66 runs, 63 RBIs, 10 home runs and 28 stolen bases this past summer for the American Legion AAA Medford Mustangs, where he also sported a 0.90 ERA after going 5-2 with one save and 61 strikeouts in 541/3 innings.

In his freshman campaign with Linn-Benton, Melton was named to the all-NWAC Southern Region first team and earned a Gold Glove award in center field for the Roadrunners (30-9), who captured their third straight regional title and will begin play in the NWAC Championship Tournament Thursday in Longview, Washington.

With a quick and powerful bat in the No. 3 spot, Melton has hit .382 with 38 runs, 38 RBIs and 23 extra-base hits thus far. All of those are team-highs among the regulars. He boasts 16 stolen bases and has only been caught twice, with three home runs, seven triples and 13 doubles to help comprise a .647 slugging percentage.

“This year honestly ended up turning out a lot better than I could’ve ever expected,” said Melton. “A lot of stuff worked out really well and everything just kind of fell into place honestly.”

Melton started the season batting .450 through the first three weeks but admittedly had to adjust through some struggles. Making it easier, he said, was the depth of talent on the Roadrunners’ roster that allowed him to relax and be confident that the job was going to get done. He said that total team confidence stands to play a big factor as Linn-Benton prepares to delve further into the postseason.

“I’m definitely ready for the tournament and I’m excited,” he said.

Not as excited, however, as how he will be when he finally gets to don an Oregon State jersey and take the field at Goss Stadium in Corvallis.

“It’s going to be amazing,” he said. “It’s something I’ve dreamed about for a really long time, and the fact that it’s actually going to happen still hasn’t really set in yet.”

Current Oregon State assistant coach Ryan Gipson had been the head coach at Linn-Benton when Melton was recruited to play there. Gipson, a former Crater High standout, later moved to the OSU staff in the offseason when Pat Bailey assumed command of the Beavers following the retirement of head coach Pat Casey.

It was about two weeks into his season with Linn-Benton that Melton said Bailey and company came calling again. After an on-campus visit, an offer soon followed.

The rest will be determined at a later date, but Melton said he’s excited to do whatever he can to help the Beavers be the best they can be.

“I haven’t really talked to them about where I fit in,” said Melton, “but they move their outfield around a lot and a lot of people see playing time so I kind of see myself fitting into that same role. Honestly whatever they need to be do is kind of what I plan on doing.”

Reach reporter Kris Henry at 541-776-4488, khenry@rosebudmedia.com, www.facebook.com/krishenryMT or www.twitter.com/Kris_Henry

South Medford alum Jacob Melton is headed to Oregon State to play for the Beavers baseball team.