Baseball park
OREGON DIAMOND The Medford Rogues’ home park is Harry David Field, where the Rogues are seen warming up before their game last Thursday, June 27. Later that day, the Rogues handed the Prune Packers their first loss of the season with a 10-9 walk-off win. (Photo courtesy Medford Rogues)

With their first road trip of the 2024 season, the Healdsburg Prune Packers found out what it was like to lose. Twice.

Carrying an 18-0 record into their June 27 game at Harry David Field in Medford, Oregon, the Pack’s luck finally ran out. The home-team Rogues, who had been defeated by the Packers the previous five games, including two on their own home field, had at last had enough.

The Pack carried a 6-1 lead into the fifth inning, then the host Rogues scraped together four runs in that frame and four more in the next to put the Healdsburg team on the ropes. Healdsburg struck back with its own sixth inning rally for two, but the teams were locked in a 9-9 tie as the final, ninth inning got underway.

In the top of the inning Healdsburg loaded the bases with Jake Tatom, Alex Leopard and Eamonn Lance, but was unable to deliver anyone across the plate when Maddox Molony rolled out to the second baseman.

Slide at third
SAFE AT THIRD Medford’s Jack Meissner slides safely into third in the fifth inning of the Medford-Healdsburg game on June 19. He later came in to score, but the Packers won the game, 5-4, on a 2-run ninth inning.

The Rogues made better use of their breaks, as Cody Nitowitz opened the inning with a single, and a walk and a strike-out later, and came home on a Luke Smith single for the walk-off win, 10-9. Healdsburg reliever Max Debiec drew the loss, while Medford’s Logan Miller got the win.

The loss was the first of the season for the Healdsburg team, which had hoped to sweep its first road series to keep up its winning ways. The Oregon team had other ideas, however. But even with the win, Healdsburg displayed considerable “ownage” over Medford, ending the season meetings with a 5-1 record.

Coach Joey Gomes seemed undeterred by the loss. “The 6x Northern California Champions, 3x California State Champion, brokers of the newly formed super league and exclusive deals with Trackman & New Era, Healdsburg Prune Packers are again in first place,” he wrote to the Tribune in an email. “Taking the series win on the road in Oregon!”

Back Home

Their first road trip behind them, the Packers headed back to Rec Park the next day, Friday, June 28, for their season’s first meeting with the West Coast Kings from Concord. But the Kings, who sported a 4-4 league record going into the game against Healdsburg’s 9-1, pulled off an upset.

The extra 10th inning was required by the 4-4 tie after the regulation nine. That has been the sign for visiting teams all year that they’re about to lose—Healdsburg’s record in extra-inning games was spotless—but the Kings rallied for three runs in the top of the inning with one swing of the bat, as right fielder Kurt Wolf homered with two on.

Healdsburg’s offense only scored a single run in their half of the inning, and the visiting Kings ended up with the 7-5 win.

Baseball pitcher
BLAZER Long Beach’s Jaden Alba, a student at Arizona State, pitched five solid for the win in the recent Solano game, 7-2 on July 29.

Though having an 18-2 record is hardly cause for soul-searching, losing two in a row is not exactly an affirmation.

The Prune Packers next faced the Solano Mudcats, also a PEL team and one the Packers had easily defeated 5-0 on June 16. Big Jaden Alba from Arizona State started on the mound and took control early, pitching five solid innings while striking out nine and giving up only one hit and a walk.

When Elliot Joslin replaced him, the Packers only had a 3-0 lead, and Joslin let two runs across to narrow the margin to a single run despite striking out six in only two innings of work.

The Packers needed a four-run inning in the bottom of the seventh to build a cushion, picking them up with only two hits supported by three walks and two wild pitches.

The final 7-2 score was a welcome return to form by the Prune Packers, now 19-2 overall, 10-2 in the league.

As July begins, they have a three-game rematch with the West Coast Kings on Tuesday, Friday and Saturday, interspersed with home games against the Lincoln Potters on July 3 and the (non-league) Athletic Edge for the Independence Day, July 4, game.

Follow the team at Adult admission is usually $8. Home games start at 6pm, except Sundays, 12:30pm. Rec Park is located at 515 Piper St.

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