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Mayer's home run carries the Rogues

Dan Mayer didn’t see much playing time this past season at the University of Pacific but that certainly hasn’t slowed him down as a member of the Medford Rogues.

In one month’s time, Mayer has as many home runs with the Rogues as he had hits as a sophomore for the Tigers (six), and the 6-foot-5, 245-pound left fielder only appears to be getting better.

Mayer blasted his fifth home run in West Coast League play on Tuesday — his sixth overall counting nonleague action — to help power the Rogues to a 3-1 victory over Cowlitz in Game 2 of a three-game series at Harry & David Field.

“He could’ve hit that ball and the one a few nights ago out of two ballparks,” said Rogues manager Josh Hogan. “His swing’s on point right now and he’s just feeling confident up there and taking good swings at the baseball. They left that one up a little bit and he definitely took advantage of it.”

Mayer’s two-run shot over the left-field fence broke a 1-all tie in the fifth inning and Medford pitchers Gabe Genter and Billy Olson combined on a four-hitter to make those runs hold up as the Rogues secured their second straight WCL series.

“I couldn’t be happier with both of their performances,” Hogan said of the pitchers. “It was really nice to have Billy back, and Genter was really good, especially as a bounce-back effort after his relief effort against the Knights.”

Medford (10-10) will go in search of a series sweep over Cowlitz at 6:35 tonight. The Black Bears (9-11) are now winless in eight career tries at Harry & David Field.

All in all it’s been a remarkable ride this summer for Mayer, especially considering Harry & David Field is historically stingy on allowing home runs by right-handed batters. With five WCL homers, Mayer is tied atop the leaderboard with Wenatchee’s Evan Douglas and Patrick Flynn of Bend.

“Honestly I’m not even thinking about it at all,” said Mayer. “I’m just going up there trying to hit the ball hard and if it happens to go over the fence then it goes over the fence. I’m not trying to do it or thinking about it too much.”

While it may not have been on his mind Tuesday, it certainly was much-needed for the Rogues when he turned on a 1-1 changeup by Cowlitz starter Callahan Neely.

Derron Davis opened the fifth with a single and advanced to second base before Neely was able to net a pair of strikeouts. Undaunted, Mayer then sent his teammates scurrying from the dugout before he could take one step out of the batter’s box as they tracked the skyline to see where his towering shot would land.

“When it happens like that, it feels great to put the team ahead because that’s the ultimate goal, to help the team win,” said Mayer, who also had a nice diving catch in the sixth. “To be able to do that is a special feeling.”

“I was sitting slow and I was sitting offspeed,” he added. “It just so happened that he left it up and I made him pay for a mistake that he made. It was nice that it turned out in our favor.”

In 19 games at Pacific, Mayer received only 41 at-bats and finished with six hits, five RBIs and four runs. Of his hits, three went for extra bases, including one home run. Still, Mayer was hoping for more out of his season and has been eager to prove his true mettle with Medford.

“It’s just great to come out here and get at-bats and see the ball,” said Mayer, who is batting .338 in WCL play. “Obviously it’s kind of been a flip-flop summer from the (spring) season but I’m just feeling more confident and believing in myself more and going out there with the right mentality to help the team win. I’m not trying to be selfish or do too much, I’m kind of just taking what the game gives me.”

Cowlitz opened the scoring with an RBI fielder’s choice by Sean Sutton that plated Isaac Benard in the second, but Medford scratched back with a tying run in the third after Billy Fredrick drew a bases-loaded walk to score John Kinne.

The Rogues had at least one hit in all but two innings against Cowlitz but struggled to capitalize with 10 runners left on base. The Black Bears went down in order four times and sent only four batters to the plate in three other innings against Genter and Olson.

“We weren’t taking the best at-bats but we just found a way,” said Hogan. “That’s kind of the case the last two nights. It hasn’t been as pretty as we’d want it to be offensively but they’re just finding a way to get it done.”

Mayer, Davis and Kinne each finished with two hits for the Rogues, with Davis extending his hitting streak to nine games.

Cowlitz;010;000;000;—;1;4;1

Medford;001;020;00x;—;3;9;1

Neely, Rayburn (6) and Pavletich; Genter, Olson (7) and Wright, McWhertor (7). W — Genter (1-1). L — Neely (1-2). S — Olson (1). 2B — M: Roque. HR — M: Mayer (5).

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

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Medford second baseman John Kinne turns to throw to first base after getting the force at second of a sliding Casey Henderson Tuesday. PHOTO BY LARRY STAUTH JR.
Medford starting pitcher Gabe Genter hurls six strong innings, alllowing two hits and a run in the Rogues' 3-1 WCL victory over Cowlitz at Harry & David Field. PHOTO BY LARRY STAUTH JR.