Welcome to Dirtbags Baseball blog! I was introduced to Long Beach State baseball in 2002 when my nephew, Neil Jamison, joined the team (and university) as a freshman. I started the blog in March of 2004, and generally discuss the team, current players and those that have moved on to professional baseball - as Neil has done in the San Diego Padres organization. Living in San Diego County, and with Neil moving to the next level, I won't be attending as many Dirtbags games. But, mostly from a distance, I'll remain a Dirtbags fan. I welcome tips on stories and information concerning the Dirtbags (current, past and future). I can be contacted at email@example.com.
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Neil Jamison recites the thought process of every relief pitcher.
"You've got to have a short memory, I can tell you that," the Ems reliever said.
Yet considering how Jamison has pitched during the spring and summer, you might think he'd rather have a long memory to recall all the zeroes he has put on the scoreboard during the past six months. Jamison did not allow an earned run in 29 2/3 innings pitched at Long Beach State during his senior season and now leads Eugene pitchers with a 1.16 earned-run average.
The mentality of a reliever, however, is to forget about past performances.
"If it is good or bad, you have to get to the next day real quick," he said. "If you go out and strike out three guys, it doesn't matter the next day because you've got a clean slate. It is the same as if you went out and gave up three runs."
Jamison is 1-1 with six saves and has allowed three earned runs in 23 1/3 innings pitched while making his professional debut with the Emeralds. His numbers were even more astounding in the spring, when he posted a 0.00 ERA with the 49ers.
"To be honest, it was a little bit of luck and I had a good year," Jamison said. "I threw the ball well all year and threw a lot of strikes. I didn't walk a lot of people so I didn't beat myself and I got some results."
Jamison, a 6-foot-3, 185-pound right-hander, went 4-0 with 11 saves as a closer for the 49ers. He was named a first-team all-American by Sports Weekly.
"You look at it and it is pretty amazing," Long Beach State pitching coach Troy Buckley said. "I don't want to say he was automatic, but it was really comforting to have him come into the game."
Combining his college and pro numbers, Jamison has a 0.51 ERA in 53 innings pitched in 2005.
"When I first got up here, I struggled to throw strikes so I had to work through that in my first five or six outings," he said. "Since then, I've gotten back to where I was at school. I just pitch to my strength. Throw my fastball, keep it down in the zone, keep hitters off balance and use both sides of the plate."
Jamison gives a lot of credit for his success to Buckley, who also tutored 2004 national player of the year Jered Weaver and Cesar Ramos, a first-round pick of the Padres this year who pitched six games for the Emeralds before being promoted to Fort Wayne.
"If you ask any of them, all the guys that have been successful attribute it to coach Buckley," Jamison said. "He did a great job. He pretty much taught me how to pitch. Coming out of high school, you don't get a whole lot of one-on-one stuff because you don't have a pitching coach. Getting to Long Beach, they teach you how to pitch and what you need to do to be successful and they do a real good job preparing guys for pro ball."
Jamison, who was drafted in the sixth round by San Diego, was one of six Long Beach State pitchers selected in the top 14 rounds of the draft.
Jamison was also drafted after his junior season by the New York Mets in the eighth round, but decided to return for his senior season.
"It was a pretty big process deciding whether or not to go back to school or sign with the Mets," said Jamison, who turned 22 last week. "I wanted to finish up school and get another chance to get to Omaha (College World Series) and see if I could go higher in the draft as well. Other than Omaha, everything pretty much worked out and looking back on it now, I made the right decision."
Jamison was a reliever throughout his career at Long Beach State, but the 49ers considered making him a starter as a senior before putting him back in the closer role.
"He could have started for us," Buckley said. "We allowed him to start in the fall and he was as good as any of our starters because of his strength. We were better at the top of the rotation and we needed experience at the back of the bullpen, so we did not move him back there because of what he didn't do, but because of the comfort level of having him there at the end of the game."
Jamison was ready to take whatever role Buckley gave him.
"During each of the last three years I threw as a starter in the fall, but where I fit in was as a closer," Jamison said. "Wherever they needed to put me is where I ended up. If they wanted me to start, closer, middle relief, anywhere, I was happy."
He had similar emotions in June when he was selected by his hometown team. Jamison graduated from Ramona High School in San Diego, where he struck out 119 batters in 76 innings as a senior while also setting a school record with 11 home runs.
"It was a big thrill to be drafted by the Padres," he said. "It couldn't get any better than that."