Rogues find a way
There was nothing conventional about Monday night’s game for the Medford Rogues.
All that mattered, though, was that the home team wound up ahead on the scoreboard at the end of all the madness here at Harry & David Field.
Medford pushed its lead in the Great West League standings to two games over the second-place Lincoln Potters in a wild baseball game that saw the Rogues open a 10-2 lead through three innings but need a seventh-inning rally to deny the visitors for a 14-11 triumph.
“We lit up the bats early,” said Rogues manager Josh Hogan, “but then I think we got complacent through those middle innings and kind of felt like a 10-2 lead should be good — which it usually should be — but these guys can hit and our bullpen’s got to step up.”
Medford (17-8) will get an immediate chance to make that happen at 6:35 tonight when it opens a three-game home series against the Marysville Gold Sox before then starting a similar series with the Portland Pickles on Friday.
“The end of the game talk was that we’ve got some things to do guys,” said Hogan, whose team also led 11-1 against Marysville recently and had to hold on for a 13-9 win. “We can’t be happy with this and keep rolling through like this. We need guys to step up and we’ve got to limit the free bases and just not make everything a nail-biter.”
After scraping together nine straight runs in inning Nos. 5-7, Lincoln (15-10) put itself in prime position for a comeback win for the ages until an unusual seventh inning that saw Medford score three runs on only one hit — a leadoff single by Davis Delorefice against reliever Hector Sepulveda.
After a balk moved Delorefice to second base, Clay Valenzuela-Reece walked on four pitches. Alex Isola then dropped down a sacrifice bunt to advance the runners in a play that saw him originally ruled safe at first base but later overturned for an out.
The Potters opted to intentionally walk Jake Hellweg to load the bases and that decision appeared like it may pay off after relief pitcher Travis Parker got the second out on a leaping grab by second baseman Will Law. The next batter, Dante Gutierrez, chopped a grounder toward shortstop Jake Boyd but his throw sailed well wide of first baseman Joseph Torres. All three Medford runners came in to score, with an error going to Boyd and another to Torres after interference was called on him when Gutierrez turned to advance to second base and the players collided on the basepaths.
From Medford being down 11-10 to instantly up 13-11, it was quite a turnaround.
“It might not have been the best 3-1 hack we were looking for,” said Hogan, “but (Gutierrez) got it in play and it made them make a play and the shortstop threw it away fortunately for us and got us three runs. That’s just baseball sometimes. If he makes that play it might be a little different game, but we’ll take it.”
The Rogues tacked on an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth on an RBI single by Valenzuela-Reece that brought home Braden Stutzman.
That extra run became important in the top of the ninth when relief pitcher Taylor Frost struck out the first two batters but then ran into some trouble with location in walking the next two batters. With the tying run now at the plate, Frost regrouped after a mound visit by assistant coach Christian Cornado to induce an inning-ending pop-out to the third baseman Delorefice.
Frost and Will Floyd, who pitched the eighth inning, were the only Medford pitchers to toss a full inning and not allow a run.
“It’s a good thing we hit the ball today,” said Hogan, “but then again they hit the ball, too. Our bullpen’s got to come in with a better mentality, I think that’s all it is. You’ve got to know it’s your game and you’ve got to go in there and shut it down. I think we’ve just been kind of timid with our approach on the mound. It’s frustrating but I think we’re going to get through that.”
None of that seemed like it would matter early as Isola supplied an RBI double in the first inning and the Rogues went up 4-2 in the second inning thanks to RBI efforts by Delorefice, Valenzuela-Reece and Hellweg.
Medford’s Utah connection then appeared to break the game open for starting pitcher Dylan Pearce in the third inning, with Delorefice cranking a three-run triple and Isola adding a two-run home run in a six-run third frame that bumped the Rogues’ lead to 10-2.
Delorefice finished 4-for-6 with four runs and four RBIs, Isola was 2-for-3 with one run and three RBIs, Valenzuela-Reece 4-for-5 with two runs and three RBIs and Stutzman 3-for-3 with three runs to pace the Rogues.
At 3 hours, 30 minutes, Monday’s game proved to be the third-longest regulation affair at home for the Rogues. The franchise record was a 2-1 win over Bellingham in 2013 that lasted 3:47.
For Lincoln, in town for only one game this week, Gilbert Sauceda was 4-for-5 with five RBIs, Zachary Hall 4-for-6 with two runs and three RBIs and Isaiah Garcia 3-for-5 with three runs and one RBI.
Boggini, Fonseca (3), Sepulveda (7), Parker (7) and Garcia, Allen (6); Pearce, Painter (6), Wilson (6), Evans (7), Floyd (8), Frost (9) and Stutzman. W — Evans (2-2). L — Sepulveda (2-3). S — Frost (4). 2B — L: Hall, Garcia; M: Isola, Stutzman. 3B — M: Delorefice. HR — M: Isola (2).
Reach reporter Kris Henry at 541-776-4488, email@example.com, www.facebook.com/krishenryMT or www.twitter.com/Kris_Henry