The first week of the Roseburg Dr. Stewart’s American Legion baseball season is in the books, and the Docs have come out on top more times than they haven’t.
Dr. Stewart’s (3-1) has started the year with a roster in flux. The Class AAA Legion squad played each of its first three games with nearly half its players missing due to class schedules, graduations and All-Star games.
The Docs were finally at full strength on Tuesday in a home game against Area 4 rival Medford (3-2). The lead traded hands multiple times, but the Docs prevailed 11-9 behind a five-run eighth inning.
“I think it’s good for our kids,” Dr. Stewart’s coach Jeremiah Robbins said of his team winning for a second time against the reigning state champs. “Especially to win a game how we did tonight, where we had to answer back.”
Umpqua Valley Christian graduate Jacob Luther made his return to the team after playing in an All-Star series last weekend at Linfield College in McMinnville. Luther picked up right where he left off in the season opener, going 2-for-3 against the Mustangs with four RBIs.
“Getting back into it with these guys was quite a bit of fun,” said Luther, who is now 3-for-4 against Medford with eight runs batted in.
The Docs’ season-opening 6-3 victory against Medford ended an eight-game losing streak to the Mustangs, dating back to 2016. Dr. Stewart’s two wins against the five-time defending state champs is the most since the team went 3-3 against Medford in 2015.
The 2019 season has featured plenty of innings against Medford, but the Docs will get a chance to see more of their Area 4 competition during the Tyree Oil Father’s Day Summer Kickoff tournament this weekend.
Dr. Stewart’s welcomes Medford, Grants Pass, Willamette Valley, Eugene, Corvallis, Dallas and Salem to Bill Gray Stadium at Legion Field for the four-day tournament.
The Docs will face Eugene at 5 p.m. Thursday to start the tourney. They’ll play the Dallas Dirtbags at 7:30 p.m. Friday and meet the Salem Withnell Dodgers at 7:30 p.m. Saturday. Matchups on Sunday will be determined by tournament records, with the championship bout taking place at 5:30 p.m.
“We’ve got some good teams coming in, so we expect there to be some battles,” Robbins said. “We’re going to approach it like this is a state tournament. Some of these teams are going to be in the state tournament and we’ve got to fight to find a way to get there.”
The last time the Docs hosted a tournament at Legion Field was 2016, but Robbins is excited for the team to take part in a competitive setting in front of its home fans.
“We really like the crowd support. I think our crowds are going to start to grow as they get acclimated to the season again,” Robbins said. “But it’s been good. It was fun (Tuesday night) and I expect the same this weekend.”
With the roster now at full strength, Robbins and his staff will start working towards a regular lineup in time for the start of league play next week.
So far, every player has seen the field for the Docs in some capacity. The Docs enter tournament play hitting .312 as a team.
The pitching staff has been beat up a bit, allowing 26 earned runs on 44 hits in 34 innings. The staff has a 5.35 ERA.
“Our pitching staff right now is just really tired,” Robbins explained. “A few of those guys that pitched (Tuesday against Medford) had pitched in the All-Star series last weekend.”
Robbins expected a day off for the guys on Wednesday will go a long way before the Docs begin a busy stretch of the season. Dr. Stewart’s will play eight game over the next six days.