10/17/2018 7:32 AM
Article By: Jonathan Kurman
The 2018 Medford Rogues season blended the old and the new, the familiar with the unexplored, and the respect for the past with the desire to innovate. This season presented challenges for new COO Dave May and new head coach Tyler Graham as they navigated the turbulent waters of the summer collegiate baseball season.
Together, they recruited some of the best talent that has ever come to southern Oregon. The 2018 Rogues tied or broke 17 team and individual franchise records, including most runs (27), hits (24), and RBI (24) in a single game, most strikeouts (pitching) in a single game (17), and the most home runs by a Rogues team (50) in a single season.
“Despite the end of our season being derailed by smoke and poor air quality, I consider this season to be an overwhelming success,” said May. “I am so proud of our coaches, players, and staff for all of their hard work this summer.”
The Rogues started their 2018 season the same way they ended the 2017 season: with a win. Opening Day starter Kolby Button (Shasta College) allowed just two runs and struck out six over seven innings, and Medford native Cole Carder (University of Antelope Valley) went 2-3 with a double, a stolen base, three RBI, and three runs scored to lead the Rogues to a 10-2 win over the Lincoln Potters.
The Rogues went 9-6 in the first 15 games of the year before facing off against the Chico Heat for the first time since the 2017 Great West League Championship series. Starter Tanner Simpson (Lewis-Clark State) racked up seven strikeouts over seven shutout innings. Left fielder Josh McIntyre (Western Oregon University) drove in three, including a solo home run, and pitchers Mitch Neunborn (North Iowa Area CC) and Matthew Chiono held the Heat scoreless in the eighth and ninth innings to complete the first staff shutout of 2018 as the Rogues beat the Heat 7-0.
Just 10 days later, the Rogues traveled to Lincoln to take on the Potters for the first time since the first series of the season. In Game Two of the three-game series, Tommy Ahlstrom (Simpson University) broke a few Rogues records by going 6-6 (new record) with six extra base hits (new record), four doubles (new record) and two home runs (tied the record) to help the Rogues score a franchise record 23 runs on a franchise record 21 hits. The Rogues beat the Potters 23-2.
The Rogues navigated the first month of the Great West League season without their head coach, Tyler Graham. Graham is the Director of Player Development at Oregon State University, and was with the Beavers during the College World Series run in Omaha, Nebraska.
The city of Medford and the Rogues welcomed Graham’s return on July 1st with Beavers’ Day. The Rogues painted the bags in orange, white, and black and gave discounts to fans to showed up to the game in Beavers’ gear. Central Point native and former Rogues pitcher Dylan Pearce, who was the winning pitcher in the clinching game of the 2017 Great West League Championship Series, was on the playoff roster with the Beavers. He returned to Harry & David Field to throw out the first pitch on Beavers’ Day. Beavers’ Head Coach Pat Casey was also in attendance.
The Rogues were set to make a run during the last week of the season to build some momentum for the playoffs. However, Mother Nature had other plans. Six of the Rogues final seven regular games were cancelled due to smoke from numerous fires around northern California and northern Oregon. The playoffs were scheduled to begin with the Rogues hosting the Lincoln Potters. However, the game was delayed and eventually cancelled due to the smoke. To honor the fans who waited at the ballpark to watch their Rogues, the team held an impromptu home run derby. Mitch Neunborn defeated Kody Garvin (Lewis-Clark State) in the championship round.
The first round of the playoffs were changed from a three-game series to a one game, win-or-go-home matchup between the Rogues and the Potters down in Lincoln. The Rogues battled hard all night long, but lost the game to end their season.
“All in all, we consider this season a success. We understand that without the community we do not have the Medford Rogues, and we would like to thank the community for their involvement not only in our organization but to these nonprofits as well,” said May. “We look forward to an even stronger 2019 and beyond.”