Rogues break single-season doubles record in sweep
Medford had Yuba City seeing double Saturday night.
Then again, the Rogues have done that to quite a few Great West League teams this season.
Medford belted out five doubles in all, setting a single-season franchise record in the process, to build an early cushion and hold on for a 9-5 victory over the Bears on “Paint the Park Pink” night in front of 1,324 at Harry & David Field.
“We just all find the barrel really well,” said Rogues right fielder Caleb Smith, who doubled twice and walked twice Saturday. “We find barrel and we try to hit the ball gap-to-gap and it just works really well for us.”
On this night it worked especially well, with every run-scoring inning by Medford (33-14) including at least one double.
Smith started it off with a third-inning double that helped open the door for a three-run outburst that included an RBI double by Eric Yang, who has now hit a double in five straight games. Smith’s second double, which tied a single-game record with 16 other Rogues, brought home a run in the fourth inning and Scotty Wright’s RBI double in the fifth inning tied a team record of 93 overall set by the 2014 squad. Connor Lowrie’s RBI double in the sixth inning broke the record, with 12 regular season games still to come.
“That’s pretty cool,” said Smith when informed of the new club record. “We’ve still got a lot of games to play, too, so it’s exciting to see where we could finish up.”
More exciting than anything for Rogues manager Josh Hogan is the way his team is heating up offensively heading down the stretch run. Medford scored 38 runs in sweeping the three-game series against Yuba City (10-38).
“It’s nice when you don’t have to run an offense so much and you can kind of rely on people to hit instead of having to bunt or kind of steal the runs in,” said Hogan. “We just have guys one through nine who can just hit the ball well and sting it all over the park.”
While it may seem a perfect time to keep the pedal to the metal, most of the Rogues will get a couple days off with the second annual Great West League All-Star Game set Monday in Chico, California. Hogan and his coaching staff of Jeff Lyle and Christian Coronado will coach an all-star group that will take on the host Chico Heat, with Rogues players Alex Isola, Clay Valenzuela-Reece, Davis Delorefice, Johnny DeLaCruz, Dylan Pearce, Taylor Frost and Chris Painter scheduled to compete.
“It’s been a lot of games with not that many off days, including their spring seasons, and there’s really not any break for them until after the season is over so any days off are gold for these guys,” said Hogan. “I just want them to rest and relax and kind off get their mind off baseball for a little bit, except for the All-Star guys who are going down there.”
Medford holds a three-game advantage over Lincoln and 5½ game edge over Chico for first place in the GWL standings. Last year, the Rogues won the regular season crown during the inaugural GWL campaign but lost in a best-of-three series to Chico for the GWL title.
“It’s definitely in our hands still but we can’t get complacent or frivolous about it at all,” said Hogan. “We have to stay focused on the task at hand and take each game seriously and stay motivated for the last part of it.”
Yuba City struck first on Saturday when Brendon Nelson reached on an infield single and later scored on a balk by Medford starter Peyton Fuller.
The Rogues answered in the third inning courtesy of a pair of doubles that helped them build a 3-1 advantage. Jake Gozzo walked to open the frame and, after failing to get two bunt attempts down, Smith ripped a shot down into the right field corner for the first of his two doubles.
“I’ve been working on my swing a lot,” said Smith, who recently returned to the lineup after a 10-day hiatus. “It’s been a little messed up lately but making a few adjustment with Hogan really showed today. It’s really cool to see when you put in the work and it finally shows.”
Delorefice followed with a two-run single and, after one out, Yang ripped a ground-rule double to plate Delorefice with the third run of the inning.
Smith later turned on a pitch in the fourth inning for an RBI double into the left field corner that scored Jake Gozzo, then the Rogues broke it open in the fifth with three more runs for a 7-1 advantage.
“You don’t know what inning it’s necessarily going to be,” said Hogan, “but they’re big on getting those big innings and crooked numbers up on the board.”
In the fifth, Jake Hellweg and Lowrie had consecutive singles before Hellweg scored on a wild pitch and Wright came through with his RBI double. A double steal, albeit clumsy, resulted in Wright later scoring from third.
After Michael Lagier led off the sixth inning with a first-pitch home run, the Rogues rallied back with a pair of runs in the bottom of the frame with consecutive singles by Dante Gutierrez and Hellweg, a record-breaking RBI double by Lowrie, another successful double steal and a balk for a 9-2 advantage.
Yuba City scored three runs on a shaky seventh inning by the Rogues relievers but couldn’t quite build enough momentum thereafter.
Fuller, an Ashland High graduated destined for Oregon, picked up the win after allowing one run on two hits with five walks and five strikeouts.
Bishop, Mitchell (4), Manso (6) and Lawrence; Fuller, Hutchinson (6), Kent (7), Floyd (7), Evans (8), Frost (9) and Yang, Gutierrez (6). W — Fuller (3-1). L — Bishop (0-2). 2B — YC: Winkler; M: Smith 2, Yang, Wright, Lowrie. HR — YC: Lagier (2).
Reach reporter Kris Henry at 541-776-4488, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.facebook.com/krishenryMT or www.twitter.com/Kris_Henry