When Holly Linerud knew Jeremy Guthrie as a fellow student at Ashland High School in the late 1990s, it seemed clear the student-athlete was destined for great things.
"He was always very driven, very smart," she said Wednesday, as she and her husband, Eric, joined dozens of other Rogue Valley residents at the RedZone Sports Bar & Grill to cheer on Guthrie, now a pitcher for the Kansas City Royals, in Game 7 of the World Series against the San Francisco Giants.
Owner Austin Loreman said he had staffed the bar for heavy business both nights Guthrie was playing. "We've been full every night (of the World Series) regardless of whether Guthrie's pitching or not," he said. "We've had a lot of people come in who were Guthrie fans, who knew him."
Ashland resident Ross Rampy said Guthrie, who went to school with Rampy's children, was representative of a rare breed of Ashland high school athletes. "I don't know anyone who has gone on to do so well," he said, eyes fixed on one of the bars' numerous big-screen televisions.
Guthrie wasn't the only player with local ties taking the field at Kansas City's Kauffman Stadium Wednesday night. San Francisco Giants pitcher Tim Hudson played for the minor league Southern Oregon Timberjacks back in 1997 — the same year Guthrie graduated from AHS.
Some local baseball fans found themselves slightly conflicted, forced to choose between their favorite team and a hometown hero. Loreman said the bar is known for its number of Giants fans.
"It's tough," said Giants fan Scott Weigand of Medford. "I know who (Guthrie) is, and I knew his dad."
"I'd like it to be the fourth or fifth inning and both pitchers get knocked out," he said.
Ultimately, Guthrie went 3 1/3 innings, giving up four hits and three earned runs, and striking out three with no walks before being replaced in the fourth inning by Kelvin Herrera.