Jamie Flynn has played a lot of baseball for a lot of teams. Some good, some not so good.
And like any ballplayer who’s endured a couple hundred bus trips, the former Ashland High School all-state pitcher understands that dogpiles — that unique-to-baseball tradition in which victorious players celebrate by throwing their bodies into a pile near the mound — are special, rare and difficult to earn.
Thus, Flynn says his fourth and final season with the Medford Rogues will go down as one of his all-time favorites, in part because it included two epic dogpiles — one after teammate Scotty Wright’s seven-inning perfect game July 29, and another Saturday after the Rogues beat the Chico Heat at Harry & David Field to clinch Medford’s first Great West League championship.
“It’s been (seven) years for me and I was blessed to do it with the (Ashland) Pilots twice in a 10-day span — that was obviously fantastic,” said the right-handed Flynn, referring to the Pilots’ 2010 American Legion A state and regional championships. “When Scotty Wright threw his perfect game down in Lincoln, that was like an out-of-body experience for me to be a part of something like that. …And when we dogpiled the mound on Saturday, there were just a lot of confident head nods like we knew we were going to do this. We were the best team all season.”
Flynn, 22, who has one year of college eligibility remaining after graduating from Cornell in June with a bachelor’s degree in communication, was one of two former Ashland Grizzlies to contribute to the Rogues’ magical summer. The other, right-handed pitcher Peyton Fuller, graduated from AHS in June and is headed to the University of Oregon on a baseball scholarship.
For Fuller, the Rogues represented an opportunity to gain some experience against college-level batters in a competitive environment after dominating OSAA Class 5A competition for the last two high-school seasons. He made the most of the opportunity, earning 12 appearances and seven starts, including a do-or-die Game 3 against the Portland Pickles in the GWL semifinals.
In a high-pressure situation unlike any he had experienced in high school — 1,027 fans showed up at Harry & David Field to see which team would advance to the league championship series —Fuller performed admirably in that Aug. 9 showdown, striking out five and walking three before leaving in the fourth inning with Medford up 9-3.
“I just really wanted to go out there and do my best for those guys, because it had been a long summer and to come up one game short of the championship series would have been pretty demoralizing after the summer that we had,” Fuller said. “So I just wanted to go out there and get us out with the ‘W.’”
It was a fantastic final appearance in what turned out to be a productive, important summer for the future Duck, who was a bit of a wild card going into the season. Fuller found out early on that he wouldn’t see much action unless he earned it, so that’s exactly what he did, surrendering only two earned runs on five hits in six solid innings in his first start of the season June 3 to prove he could hang with the big boys.
Ups and downs followed, but a July surge during which he gave up only seven earned runs in 24 2/3 innings secured Fuller’s place in the rotation.
“They kind of just told me that they were going to give me a shot,” said Fuller, who finished 3-2 with a 4.21 ERA. “I got a few starts at the beginning of the season and did pretty well and kind of established my role as a starter. Honestly, I thought I’d probably start out of the pen and have to work my way from there, but they had a lot of belief in me and I really appreciated that.”
Flynn, who went 5-3 with a 2.39 ERA this summer, also took the mound at some key moments, including Game 2 of the GWL championship series. In that one, Flynn held Chico scoreless in 1 1/3 innings and ended up getting credit for the win, his second of the postseason.
For Flynn, playing for the Rogues represented an opportunity to stay sharp for what he hopes will be one more college season — he's in the process of figuring out where he'll attend graduate school — and a chance to help a coaching staff he respects mightily make some history.
Flynn was still on the fence about playing for the Rogues in May as he worked through his senior season at Cornell, but a teammate convinced him to give Medford one more summer. Less than a week after charging onto the field to celebrate with his teammates — a video shot behind Flynn and available online shows him sprinting out of the dugout — he says it was the right decision.
“I was like, I can always join the workforce down the road,” he said. “Obviously a very good education is going to help me crack into the workforce when I want to, so I might as well have a little more fun, and my parents were very supportive. So we made it happen and obviously it ended in the most fun way possible.”
Joe Zavala is a reporter for the Ashland Daily Tidings. Reach him at 541-821-0829 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @Joe_Zavala99.