Athletic directors at the Class 5A level have proven to be the most invested in controlling their own playoff destiny since a switch to the...
EAGLE POINT — No-hitters come in all shapes and sizes. Ashland's Jamie Flynn will take the big one he tossed Thursday against Southern Oregon Hybrid rival Eagle Point, even if it was far from perfect.
Flynn struck out 10 and overcame seven walks and a hit batter, and Ashland's bats came alive as the Grizzlies snapped a three-game skid with a 10-0 win over the Eagles at The Yard.
The win gives Ashland (9-8) a two-games-to-none lead in the four-game SOH series, and the Grizzlies can clinch the league title with a home win over Eagle Point (6-10) on May 2.
"It was really ugly, actually," said Flynn, whose last no-hitter, as an eighth-grader, also came against Eagle Point. "Coach (John) Wallace said, 'That's the longest no-hitter anybody's probably ever thrown.'"
But between walks, Flynn was dominant, mixing a mid-80s fastball with a change-up and a nasty slider that baffled many Eagle Point batters.
"I knew if I threw some strikes I had all the confidence in myself that they wouldn't be able to hit me very well," said Flynn (4-2), who has tossed four straight complete games, surrendering only five runs on 13 hits in that span. "The slider really worked for me. I'd get behind and I'd throw that a couple times and that forced weak contact."
Weak contact wasn't a problem for Ashland. Two days after getting blown away in a doubleheader at Roseburg, the Grizzlies took charge in the first inning and remained in control throughout. After loading the bases with two outs, Ashland scored the only run it would need when Ryan Bottimore fouled off a full-count pitch before drawing a walk against Eagle Point starter James Dixon. The next batter, Vincent Cammarota, beat out a chopper to third for an infield single and a 2-0 Ashland lead.
The Grizzlies poured it on in the second. Up 3-0 following Jack Carroll's infield single, Ashland doubled its lead when Bottimore walloped Dixon's outside fastball all the way to the wall in right-center with the bases loaded. The stand-up double cleared the bases and, with Flynn already in cruise control, sucked most of the drama out of the game.
Bottimore said his clutch at-bat the previous inning gave him a much-needed confident boost.
"I just changed my mentality," said the senior center fielder, "and was just like, 'I'm going to get a hit this time. I need to do this for my team.' And so I just got an outside pitch and I drove it to right field."
The rest of the game was Flynn's to lose, and he decreased the odds of that happening by knocking in two more runs with a double to right in the fifth. But his arm did most of the damage against Eagle Point, and he capped the no-no himself, fielding a dangerous ground ball toward first and sprinting across the bag to secure the victory.
The win continues an impressive stretch for the senior right-hander. Since surrendering three earned runs in four innings in a loss to Crater on March 23, Flynn has held Widefield, Colo., to two earned runs on six hits, North Medford to two earned runs on three hits, Crater to one earned run on four hits and now Eagle Point scoreless and hitless.
"It's always great to celebrate with your teammates when you have a successful win," Flynn said, "and to have it over (Eagle Point), this is our rival and our top competition, the only games that really matter, so it's just great to be able to back my team up and have them back me up in such an important game."
Ian Alpenia went 3-for-4 in the nine hole to pace Ashland's offense, while leadoff hitter Bryce Rogan went 2-for-5 with three runs and a leadoff double. Steen Fredrickson was 2-for-4 with two runs and also kept Flynn's no-hitter going with a leaping grab to rob Dixon in the second. Cammarota was 2-for-3 with two RBIs.
Dixon surrendered nine runs, seven earned, on 10 hits in five innings before Nate Brammer took over in the sixth.
When the two teams meet again in two weeks, the Grizzlies, who entered Thursday's game ranked No. 1 in the OSAA power rankings, will be looking to clinch a playoff berth and the SOH 5A league title. Not that that would satisfy the Grizzlies.
"It feels good," Alpenia said, "but we're going for a sweep on them this season — go four-and-oh. That's what we're hoping for."
Ashland 250 020 1 — 10 12 1
Eagle Point 000 000 0 — 0 0 2
Flynn and Glick; Dixon, Brammer (6) and Hangaard. W — Flynn (4-2). L — Dixon. 2B — A: Rogan, Flynn, Bottimore.