Rogues relish nostalgic night against Beavers
It may have just been one game, but it meant so much more for those on hand Tuesday as the Medford Rogues played host to the past, present and future of Oregon State baseball at Harry & David Field.
With the crowd decked out in more orange and black than traditional Rogues green, Tuesday’s game was more about seeing familiar faces once again wearing Beavers gear on the diamond — and it didn’t disappoint.
You had the Sackett brothers Brian and Brent, who played for Oregon State in 1988-89, and Pat Barry (1975-78) acting as coaches, and players from four decades — including several of Rogue Valley’s finest — working in unison as if Pat Casey himself was calling the shots.
The only thing that the visiting Beaver bunch didn’t have was the final victory, but even that was up in the air until a game-ending double play halted a ninth-inning rally and allowed the Rogues to escape with a 4-3 triumph.
“We left a few runs out there early on and they had one inning where they found a couple holes,” said Brent Watts, who played for Oregon State in 1993-94 and was awarded the team’s Gold Glove Award as its most outstanding fielder in 1994. “Overall I think it was really competitive throughout. Guys made plays and I think there was good talent on both sides. Even some of the old guys on our team showed they can still get out there and strap it up.”
The special matchup wasn’t lost on the Rogues players, who opened a 1-0 lead in the second inning on a towering home run to left field by Josh Berman off AJ Lattery and used a three-run fifth inning to build a 4-0 cushion.
“Honestly being out here in general was awesome,” said Berman, who added an RBI double in the fifth to finish with two RBIs. “This has all been really cool. We’re playing against some dudes that were Oregon State legends at one point and still are. The Max Gordons, even our own guys Bill Rowe and Parker Berberet, every single guy out here did something cool and they all got to play for a prestigious program. Being able to compete against those guys, that’s like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
Rowe, who helped lead Oregon State to its first College World Series title in 2006, pitched a pair of scoreless innings and ripped a double down the right field line in a night off from his Medford Rogues managerial duties.
Berberet (2010-11) pitched a scoreless inning and plated a run with a sacrifice fly in the sixth inning and James Marshall was 2-for-3 with an RBI single in the ninth to show more mettle among the Rogues coaches playing for Oregon State.
The Rogue Valley was also well-represented beyond Rowe, who graduated from Ashland High in 2002, among the Beaver returners.
Ashland’s Gordon (2011-13) once again showed off his defensive prowess in center field, leaping for a catch for a key out in the fifth inning and adding a leadoff single and run scored during the ninth-inning rally.
Chad Hegdahl, a member of the 2007 championship team from Ashland, showed off his elite first-baseman stretch on a groundout in the eighth inning, while Watts, a Phoenix High graduate, had a nice pick at third base and assist in the fourth inning to go with a pair of hard-hit outs, the latter shattering his bat in the seventh inning.
“I was just happy to get out of here with no strikeouts and no errors,” said Watts, who also played second base in the continually shifting Beaver lineup. “That was my goal tonight, just have fun and meet some new people. I think the biggest experience was just the unity and family we have at Oregon State. It’s like an extended family and you get to meet new relatives almost with this.”
Former Crater standout Dylan Pearce, who was a key relief pitcher during OSU’s 2018 championship season, enjoyed a turn at second base and slapped a pair of singles in his first two at-bats.
“I just miss the game so it was awesome to be able to get in there and see some guys and just have fun,” said Pearce, who has competed this summer for the Rogues after the minor league baseball season was canceled. “I thoroughly enjoyed it. And anytime I can get up there and hit, I will take it. I love hitting.”
North Medford star Rob Folsom (2005, 2008-10) also donned a Beavers uniform again but couldn’t recreate his all-Pac-10 Conference skills in his lone at-bat before having to leave for work. He returned in time to be standing in the on-deck circle when Berberet hit into the game-ending double play, but counted himself thrilled to be part of Tuesday’s blend of OSU’s past, present and future players.
Even former South Medford star Logan Boyd (2008-09) made a quick appearance in his Medford police uniform to say a quick hello to some of his former teammates.
“It was a lot more fun and less stressful than I thought it would be,” said Rowe, who spearheaded Tuesday’s matchup with Rogues general manager Dave May. “I’ve been trying to get this thing going for a long time now but just couldn’t put it together. Hopefully this is the start of a really great tradition.”
“It was just really great to get a bunch of people from different decades of Beaver baseball together at the same time and people who have never known each other before,” he added. “It was really special for the current players, I think, to just feel that tradition and great for young Isaac Hill (Class of 2023 commit) to get a taste of playing with some Beavs for the first time. I think we actually put together a pretty competitive team.”
Still, it wasn’t enough to slow the Rogues on this night as they improved to 13-3 under the guidance of acting manager Jamie Flynn.
Jackson Hall turned a stolen base into a Rogues run on an errant throw to third base by catcher Troy Claunch in the fifth inning and Vinnie Zavolta added an RBI single against Hill before what proved to be the deciding run by Berman on his second extra-base hit of the game.
“I love it when they win by one and my boy Berm goes yard,” Rowe said of his Rogues. “They played pretty good defense, the pitcher’s did well and I was just proud of them. They were supposed to win this game, so that was good. I’m glad we made it competitive and kind of close for the fans.”
What also made Tuesday’s game special were uniforms provided by Oregon State and brought down from Corvallis by former OSU standout Andy Peterson (2013-14), who is the head coach at Linn-Benton Community College.
Another byproduct of the gathering was a successful silent auction as the Rogues raised money for the volunteer coaches on Rowe’s staff. The auction itself brought in $1,100 and was personally matched by May and his wife Tabitha for a $2,200 total raised for the coaching staff.
Auction items included the game jersey Rowe wore as an assistant coach during the 2018 College World Series, a baseball autographed by Hank Aaron, a baseball autographed by the 2019 Oregon State team and a dinner with the Rogues coaches hosted by Rowe.
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Lattery, Hill (5), Rowe (6), Berberet (8) and Claunch; Barrick, Vidlak (4), Kindreich (6), Aguilar (7), Lund (8), Morrison (9) and Alarcon. W — Barrick (2-0). L — Lattery (0-1). S — Morrison. 2B — OSU: Young, Rowe; M: Berman. HR — M: Berman (4).