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Freeport's Flemm continues tear

Doug Gulasy
| Sunday, June 25, 2017, 5:51 p.m.
Freeport starting pitcher James Flemm delivers to a Ringgold batter during their WPIAL Class 4A baseball playoff game at Mt. Pleasant on Tuesday May 16, 2017. Ringgold shut out Freeport 7-0.
Barry Reeger | For The Tribune-Review
Freeport starting pitcher James Flemm delivers to a Ringgold batter during their WPIAL Class 4A baseball playoff game at Mt. Pleasant on Tuesday May 16, 2017. Ringgold shut out Freeport 7-0.

As he connected on a pitch last week in a Butler County Legion game, James Flemm heard the opposing catcher's reaction: “That one's gone.”

Indeed it was, over the fence at Karns City's Legion field for a three-run homer.

What isn't gone is Flemm's hitting mojo. The recent Freeport graduate, coming off a historic offensive season for the Yellowjackets, is picking up right where he left off as a member of the Saxonburg Legion team. He hit two three-run homers in that game against Karns City, added a run-scoring single and cranked a bases-loaded double in his final at-bat to finish with 10 RBIs in an 18-2 victory.

Yes, double-digit RBIs in one game, needless to say a career high for Flemm.

“That was a once-in-a-lifetime game,” Flemm said. “It's one of those things where you've just got to take it in and enjoy it while you can. As the game was going on, I wasn't trying to pay attention to it. But at the end of the game it hit me that I had that many RBIs. It was a crazy stat to think of.”

It's been that kind of spring and early summer for Flemm, who posted one of the best offensive seasons in recent Alle-Kiski Valley baseball history. He hit .609 with 15 doubles, two triples, three homers and 33 RBIs. He drove in more runs than he made outs.

“James is such an awesome person and an awesome kid that any time he continues to do good things, I'll be proud of him,” Freeport coach Ed Carr said.

His numbers also far surpassed those of his junior season, when he batted .264 with one double, one triple, one homer and 11 RBIs.

“When the season started, my mom told me she was expecting me to hit over .400, and I was like, ‘That's insane — there's no way I could do that,' ” Flemm said. “It's crazy to think I hit well above .400.”

Flemm credited his work with Carr, who tweaked Flemm's batting stance to help him better drive the ball to all fields.

“He has one of the simplest stances, simplest places where he puts his hands,” Carr said. “Everything he does is just simple, and it's a direct path to the baseball. He makes it easy on himself. He can just use his hand speed. He can use that power in his lower half, and now it's easy for him.”

Flemm is playing in the Butler County Legion league for the second consecutive summer, but for a different team. He played for Kiski Valley's team in the league — not to be confused with the Kiski Valley team that competes in District 31 Legion — but that club folded before this summer.

That left Flemm behind enemy lines, so to speak, as Saxonburg's team is composed of players from Freeport's section rival Knoch. He's the only Freeport player on the team.

“It's interesting,” Flemm said. “From time to time, they'll bring up them beating Freeport on their senior night. But most of the time, it's just enjoying baseball and having fun.”

Saxonburg, last year's Butler County champions, won its first eight games of the summer in its repeat bid.

Flemm plans to attend Butler County Community College in the fall, but he hopes to transfer somewhere to play baseball after his freshman year.

For now, he's enjoying this extended hitting run.

“I just think it's a once-in-a-lifetime thing,” he said. “This is always going to be there with me. When I'm older, this is going to be something I look back on and when I think about baseball, this is going to be the season I remember. It's stuff I probably could never do again if I had another year of playing high school. I just don't think it's doable.”

Doug Gulasy is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at dgulasy@tribweb.com or via Twitter @dgulasy_Trib.

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