Rain puts Rogues on pause after thrilling opening night
The only thing that could have dampened the mood for the Medford Rogues after Thursday’s stunning walk-off win was an inability to get back to the ballpark Friday.
Unfortunately for the Rogues and their fans, that’s exactly what happened as steady rain showers overnight and into Friday forced a rainout in Game 2 of the season against the Fresno A’s.
To make up for it, the Rogues have pushed that second contest back to Saturday with a doubleheader that begins at 5:05 p.m. at Harry & David Field and features a pair of seven-inning games.
“It was a great way to start it,” said second-year Rogues manager Bill Rowe of Thursday’s dramatic 9-7 win. “It was awesome to have that many fans in the ballpark again and to just feel a little bit more normal. It was great to have an exciting win for Southern Oregon so early in the summer.”
“It definitely gets us excited to come back to the ballpark,” he added, “we just have to wait a little longer now.”
Fans with tickets for Friday’s game are encouraged to contact the Rogues ticket office at 541-973-2883 to coordinate for the change to Saturday.
Jake Gentry didn’t take long in endearing himself to the Medford faithful Thursday, capping off a wild victory with his two-run walk-off home run to deny Fresno in the season opener for both teams.
The Cal State Fullerton junior outfielder was given his big opportunity after a two-out single by Grant Sherrod in the ninth inning and didn’t disappoint, clubbing a 3-2 pitch over the right-field fence.
“He looks awesome,” Rowe said of Gentry. “I’ve just been really impressed with where he’s at mentally in terms of his approach at the plate. He struggled a little bit at Cal State Fullerton this year (batting .214 in 25 games) and it sounds like he’s already made the exact adjustment he needs to be successful in the future and you could see that happen last night.”
Earlier in the game, Gentry supplied a two-run double in the fourth inning to give the Rogues their first lead of the collegiate wood-bat summer season. In the fifth, his diving catch in right field also stopped Fresno from scoring after the A’s loaded the bases and preserved a 2-1 advantage.
“All game for him, every time he came to the box he looked really good,” said Rowe. “He got a really clutch double and made that diving play in right field earlier in the game that really helped us, so by the time he came up in the last inning guys were just excited to watch him swing because he’s got a really good polished swing.”
Being able to cap their first true game together in such an electrifying manner could pay big dividends for the Rogues as they embark on their eight-week season, with 12 games in the first 11 days.
“It really helps with setting that tone,” said Rowe. “I’m not sure if it was important (that we won) because you suffer so many tough losses in baseball that to lose the first game of a summer season wouldn’t be that big of a hit, you just throw it away and think about the next one, but to have what happened happen for you, it’s a boost you don’t think you’re going to get really. It kind of makes it feel like you’ve already been playing together for a few months when you’ve only been playing together for a few days.”
Medford definitely looked the part of a together team as the Rogues pushed their lead to 5-1 in the sixth inning thanks to consecutive doubles by Drew Steelhammer and Sherrod, with Jackson Hall adding an RBI single and Sherrod coming home on a wild pitch.
Matt Ager and Griffin Henry each pitched three solid innings to open for Medford, with Henry allowing three hits with three strikeouts in his scoreless outing and Ager showing every bit of promise Rowe had for him as an incoming freshman at UC Santa Barbara.
Fresno rallied with six runs to regain the lead in the seventh inning, however, with Steven Martinez supplying a big hit with his two-run single to give the A’s their second lead at 7-5.
Undaunted, the Rogues scratched for a single run in the seventh and eighth innings to tie it at 7-all behind RBI efforts from Emiliano Alarcon and Drew Kaatz, respectively.
Alarcon came on as an emergency relief catcher after Teppie Fukuda was injured during the second at-bat of the game and had to exit.
“That was a bummer, I feel so bad for Teppie having something like that so quickly into the season,” said Rowe. “He’s a player we’re really excited to have on our team, just a super high-quality dude. It was really unfortunate, but Milli caught for us a lot last summer and he’s just really solid back there so we always knew we had him in the back pocket.”
The Rogues will get a boost behind the plate Saturday with the expected arrival of Oregon State freshman Daniel Pruitt helping offset the loss of Fukuda.
Sherrod finished the opener 4-for-5 with three runs and one RBI to help lead the Rogues, while Gentry was 2-for-4 with two runs and four RBIs and Hall 2-for-3 with one RBI.
For Fresno, Martinez went 2-for-4 with three RBIs, while Blake Demaria was 2-for-5 with one run and Bobby Staley 3-for-4 with one run.
While Rowe and company would have preferred to keep their momentum going, Friday’s rainout was looked at as an early opportunity as much as anything.
“It’s just more chance for our guys to explore the area, it’s not that big of a deal,” said Rowe. “When you know you have this many games coming in so many days, we’ve got to capitalize on every day off that you get and just rest up. I know I was feeling exhausted after that game last night and it was only Game 1, so I was like, oh man, I don’t know what I’m going to feel like after 11 days of this.”
Fresno A’s010000 600—7111
Medford Rogues000203 112—9120
Rocha, Torrez (5), Martinez (7), Pate (9) and Chu; Ager, Henry (4), Memmott (7), Miller (7) and Fukuda, Alarcon (1). W — Miller (1-0). L — Pate (0-1). 2B — F: Staley; M: Steelhammer, Sherrod, Gentry, Cedillo. HR — M: Gentry (1).
Reach reporter Kris Henry at 541-776-4488 or firstname.lastname@example.org.