A lot of things went well for the Portland Pickles in their return to Walker Stadium on Monday.
After a six-game road trip, the Pickles drew a good crowd (2,570), had good weather, got good pitching (for the most part), and generate some good scoring and hitting.
But the Pickles didn't have quite enough to hold off the Medford Rogues in the opener of a three-game home series. Medford rallied to win, 5-4.
Over the weekend, the Rogues beat the Pickles two out of three at Harry & David Field. Portland won on Sunday, though, to avoid a sweep and hit the halfway point of the Great West League season at 14-16.
Medford's win on Monday lifted its record to 23-9, first in the GWL by four games over the Lincoln Potters 18-12. The Chico Heat are third in the league at 18-14, with Portland next at 14-17.
The Pickles had ace Josh Hendrickson (4-1, 2.67) making his seventh start of the summer wood-bat season on Monday, and what looked like a fifth win for him turned into his first defeat.
Medford got a home run from Alex Isola, the third batter in the first inning, and led 2-0.
But the Pickles pulled even in the bottom half, using three Rogues errors and getting a key single from Matt Hardy.
Zander Clarke drove in a go-ahead run in the third, and Hardy's single in the fifth made the score 4-2.
Hendrickson was looking good through six innings.
"We were hoping to get him through seven, and he said he could go one more," Pickles manager Jeff Lahti said.
Hendrickson ran into trouble in the seventh, though. Isola lined a two-run double to left field on Hendrickson's 121st pitch of the night. That gave Isola a league-high 29 RBIs.
Lahti visited the mound, but stayed with his 6-5 left-hander from Australia.
The next batter, Johnny DeLaCruz, doubled to right to make the score 5-4.
Portland nearly scored in the eighth, but the Rogues were able to tag out pinch runner Kelechi Anyanwu trying to score from third on a pitch that went to the backstop.
The Pickles threatened in the bottom of the ninth, putting runners on first and second with one out. But Clarke hit into a double play, a bummer offset at least slightly by the ensuing fireworks show.
The Pickles got good work out of the bullpen from Dustin Redish, who struck out five and allowed no hits, walks or runs over the final 2 1/3 innings.
Redish, a 6-1, 180-pound righty from Hopedale, Ohio, has been coming on of late for the Pickles.
"He's been pitching fantastic," lahti said. "We made a slight change in his windup, and he's been throwing a lot out of the stretch and getting consistent."
As for Hendrickson, "he's been pitching reall well, and just had that one tough inning," Lahti said.
Hendrickson played for Ranger (Texas) College this year and is drawing attention from major college scouts.
"He's only 19. If he stays healthy, he's got a bright future," Lahti said. "Alabama, San Diego and Cal Poly have come to see him pitch for us.
"And another nice part about that is when they come to look at Hendrickson, they see our other guys, so it's an opportunity for everyone."
Portland played an earlier exhibition game, taking on the touring Perth Heat in a matinee. The Pickles won, 13-2, with Renner Stecki hitting a two-run home run, Anyanwu driving in three runs and Mitch Maynes getting the win after a five-inning start.
Tuesday's slate is a repeat — Portland and Perth will meet at 1 p.m., with the Pickles and Rogues going at it at 7 p.m., and more fireworks to follow.