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Mulholland, Canty spark unbeaten Medford Rogues

On a night when Harry & David Field endured a 90-minute power outage, the Medford Rogues used a pair of electric efforts from Ashland native Ty Mulholland and Devon Canty to remain unbeaten in Golden State Collegiate Baseball League play with a 4-3 win over the San Francisco Seagulls Friday.

A nearby car accident resulted in a downed power line that took the Medford ballpark back to the dark ages under sunny skies, but the game went on without a hitch and allowed for one of the more improbable nights the Rogues (8-0) may ever see with Mulholland nearly scoring a complete-game pitching victory in front of 1,041 on hand.

A catcher by trade, the 5-foot-8, 175-pound Mulholland scattered 10 hits in 8 2/3 innings of effective but not necessarily imposing pitching against the visiting Seagulls (4-2) in Game 2 of a four-game home series that continues at 6:35 p.m. Saturday night.

“I always go by gut instinct,” said Rogues manager Sean Gallagher of giving Mulholland possibly his first starting pitching nod since his Little League days. “That kid’s been with me a long time and I knew that we were going to be a little thin on pitching over the next couple days so we needed to burn some innings. He’s a kid that throws super-slow but he’s accurate, so I knew that he would get in there and keep them off-balance.”

Mulholland struck out four and walked only two before giving way to Brice Foster, who earned his first save, with the tying run on third base in the ninth inning.

Not a bad result for someone who hardly logged any innings on the mound while he was playing for Gallagher at St. Mary’s High, and hasn’t thought about pitching until joining the Rogues this summer.

“I know with coach Gallagher you’ve got to be ready for anything,” said Mulholland, who is a sophomore at Presentation College. “He trusts me and I’ll do what he says, and it seemed to work out tonight. I had no clue that I was starting tonight until probably an hour before the game, but I’m ready for anything.”

After pitching one forgettable inning this past Tuesday against the Reno Rams, Mulholland turned into the perfect choice to take the mound Friday as he routinely kept San Francisco’s batters guessing with a steady diet of offspeed pitches.

“My plan was just to throw strikes and fill the strike zone up with offspeed pitches because my fastball’s not getting past anyone,” said Mulholland. “I probably threw about 80 percent curveballs tonight.”

That, of course, is being generous about the term “curveball.”

“I think we threw maybe five fastballs,” said Gallagher. “It was curveball, changeup, curveball, changeup. I call it slow and slower, and it’s tough to hit. For batters like this who are used to 85-plus miles per hour, to try to hit a 55 mile per hour changeup, that’s very difficult.”

And when the Seagulls were able to make contact, Mulholland was backed up by a steady defense that turned one double play with shortstop Peter Mendazona and second baseman Myles Coston, saw catcher Marshal Luiz throw out two baserunners and left fielder Jonathan Radomskiy erase a potential run with a strike to Luiz in the fourth inning.

“We’ve got a strong offense but this is the first game we were held in check offensively,” said Gallagher. “But we have a really, really solid defense and that’s going to carry us a long way.”

Gallagher’s gut may have led him to put the ball in Mulholland’s hands Friday, but a potential complete game wasn’t in his wildest dreams.

“I asked him to give me one inning,” said Gallagher. “Then I asked him to give me two. Then I asked him to give me five, and we just went from there. I tried to get him the complete game. I would’ve normally taken somebody out in the eighth or ninth and brought in a closer, but that’s a game of a lifetime for him. He was close.”

Mulholland allowed a single to Jared Bannister between two outs in the ninth, but a walk and an RBI single by Tyler Jochen cut Medford’s lead to 4-2. Another RBI single by Shane Wallace made it 4-3 and put an end to Mulholland’s day with runner on the corners. Foster then came on and induced a pop-up in foul territory to first baseman Travis Danielson for the final out.

“It was disappointing,” said Mulholland of missing a complete game, “but I’m just happy that Brice was able to come in and get the job done and get this ‘W.’ That’s the most important thing.”

Medford took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the third inning against San Francisco starter Hayden Crowe, who allowed only four hits in his eight innings, when Luiz reached on an infield single and eventually scored on a tough-luck play that saw Travis Danielson's grounder take an awkward hop and skip through the legs of third baseman Jack Thompson.

Canty allowed the Rogues to break the game open in the fourth inning when the right fielder belted Medford's first home run in its home ballpark this season on a three-run, no-doubter off the scoreboard beyond the left-field fence.

“I was just focused on taking a good swing,” said Canty, a junior from Menlo College, “and when that’s what you do, good things happen.”

Aki Buckson opened the fourth by reaching on an error after Thompson's throw sailed high to first base, then Medford's Josh Berman muscled a pitch over third base to put runners on first and second and set the stage for Canty. Despite facing a wind steadily coming in from left field, Canty was able to turn on a Crowe offering and send the Rogues fans into a frenzy.

“It’s been pretty frustrating in batting practice not getting very many home runs out of there,” said Canty, “but that made up for it.”

Canty credited work on his swing with Gallagher for helping him find his groove, but the coach heaped equal praise on the Half Moon Bay, California, product.

“Devon Canty was the last guy we picked up on our roster and he’s been in at my facility at the Gashouse every day working on his swing and looking at film,” said Gallagher. “Today he was taking tremendous swings and I just said get out there and just take swings and he crushed it. It was amazing.”

Almost as amazing as Medford’s program-best winning streak to start the season.

“We’re not even coming out and trying to win games, we’re just coming out and trying to get better,” said Canty. “Winning just seems to come along with that. We’ve known each other for not even two weeks and we all get along so well, the camaraderie on this team is just incredible.”

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Crowe and Fischvogt; Mulholland, Foster (9) and Luiz, Gamboa (6). W — Mulholland (1-0). L — Crowe. S — Foster (1). HR — M: Canty (1).

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

Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune Rogues James Turnbull catches Seaguls Myles Coston stealing 2nd base in the 1st inning.
Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune Rogues Ty Mullholland delivers in the 2nd inning.