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This Bryce is Right

The way Bryce Rogan looks at it, he’s the lucky one.

As the cleanup hitter for the Area 4 champion Medford Mustangs, he’ll tell you that his job is pretty simple.

“It’s a pretty easy job for me, I just have to put the ball in play and it seems like someone’s always scoring because they’re on second or third base when I’m up,” says the 6-foot, 180-pound outfielder and designated hitter. “It’s funny, if I don’t get up in the first inning, I’m always surprised with how well things have been going.”

In reality, Mustangs fans should likely be more surprised on those rare moments when Rogan isn’t coming through for his American Legion AAA team. The 19-year-old Ashland High graduate leads Medford with 42 RBIs and is batting .415 with 25 runs scored.

“He does a good job and just does what he needs to do,” says Mustangs manager Nate Mayben. “If he needs to get the ball on the ground, that’s what he does. He does a good job of staying on pitches and driving the ball to the opposite field with good power. Whatever we need, he does it for us.”

Rogan’s success at the plate should come as no surprise. He was the leading returning hitter for Medford after batting .388 for last year’s state champions.

Still, the smooth-swinging Rogan, who hits left but throws right, only considers himself part of the equation.

With players like Micah Brown (.440, 45 runs, 38 RBIs), Jared Evans (.341, 36 runs, 20 RBIs) and Tate Cowden (.348, 47 runs, 17 RBIs) hitting ahead of him — and the protection of Austin Zavala (.341, 19 runs, 24 RBIs) behind him — Rogan says he’s simply reaping the rewards from their exploits.

“RBIs has a lot to do with the team,” says Rogan. “It’s been a great summer. It’s nice to be part of this Mustangs team, in particular, and the whole Mustangs tradition. There’s been a lot of nice players over the years and it’s nice to be part of that.”

Rogan’s role has evolved in his three summers in the Mustangs program, as has the team’s outlook.

“Looking back on the first year, we were really young and didn’t know what was going on,” he says. “The next year, I don’t think we knew how good we were until we made that huge run at the end. This year, it’s been a completely different set of expectations.”

“This whole year,” Rogan adds, “it’s kind of felt like if we don’t get back to the regionals then it’s going to be a disappointment. It’s a huge, totally different atmosphere than the last couple of years.”

Medford used a late spark last year to secure the program’s 12th state championship and, after winning a second straight Area 4 crown, the Mustangs (33-11) are aiming for state title No. 13 next week in Salem. They’d also like a chance to erase the memory of falling one win shy of a World Series berth last year at the Pacific Northwest Regionals.

“I’m just ready to get going with the state tournament,” says Rogan. “It’s going to be a long week waiting for that to start. This is what I’ve been waiting for the past year after not playing a lot in college and losing in the regionals last year. Now’s where really all the goals come into play.”

Rogan only appeared in nine games during his freshman season on the Pomona-Pitzer baseball team but says he was able to stay somewhat active due to weekly intrasquad scrimmages.

While most American Legion players struggle a bit in the early stages of the season when they’re coming off such light duty, Mayben says that was never a concern with Rogan, who has a strong work ethic when it comes to dialing in his swing.

“He’s one of those hitters that just takes it serious,” says the manager. “Every at-bat is important to him, no matter the situation. We play 50 games in the summer and not one at-bat does he take off. He just battles. That’s why he is where he is.”

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

Bryce Rogan is a key reason Medford cruised to the Area 4 title this summer. PHOTO BY LARRY STAUTH JR.
Bryce Rogan of the Medford Mustangs has picked up where he left off last season, sporting a .415 batting average as the team prepares to defend the state championship next week. PHOTO BY LARRY STAUTH JR.