Twins Jared and Jason Ross return to club baseball for repeat national title run
Competition is a common thread between siblings, especially when it comes to sports. For Jared and Jason Ross, identical twins and pitchers for Oregon’s club baseball team, the status quo is no different.
Such was the case last May when the Ducks advanced to the 2015 National Club Baseball Association championship game against Arizona State. Both Jared and Jason played significant roles in getting the Ducks to that point.
In team’s Northern Pacific Regional win over defending champion Utah State, Jared pitched a full nine innings with 13 strikeouts despite experiencing pain in his throwing arm.
At the NCBA World Series in Paducah, Kentucky, Jason had a no-hitter going into the eighth inning against Texas and also earned a save in a tight 7-6 win over Florida State.
Naturally, they both wanted to start the championship game.
Jason ultimately got the nod against Arizona State. The Ducks won the game 7-4 to clinch their first NCBA championship, and Jason took home MVP honors with a 2-0 world series record and 1.64 ERA. While competition consistently fuels the twins to outperform each other, Jared acknowledged that Jason earned the right to start. It’s the kind of team-first attitude that helped Oregon club baseball win the championship last May, and the same kind that the Ducks will need for a repeat title run in Jared and Jason’s senior season.
“There’s definitely competition between the two — you can see it,” said Mikey Finneran, an Oregon club baseball catcher from 2011-2015 and now assistant coach. “They always kind of want to outdo one another, but I don’t think it impedes on any kind of friendship.”
Jared and Jason started playing baseball when they were four. Both dabbled in different positions, but Jared gravitated towards pitching. Jason played infield positions and pitched.
“[Jared] was always a really good pitcher,” Jason said. “I pitched, but I was always more of a thrower … It wasn’t until my senior year of high school that I actually started getting really into [pitching] and worked really hard at it.”
When the twins’ high school careers finished at Oak Ridge High School in El Dorado Hills, California, they assumed their playing days were over.
But early into their first term at Oregon, Jason was playing quarterback in a flag football class when a club baseball player approached him.
“One of the guys in the class was like, ‘You have a pretty strong arm, do you play baseball?’ ” Jason said. “I was like, ‘Yeah, I played in high school.’ He was on the club team and said, ‘You should try out.’”
Both Jason and Jared tried out shortly thereafter and made the team. But they joined a team that lacked the focus needed to reach the heights the team recently got to.
“I had a friend who tried out who said, ‘They just don’t take it seriously. They’re not really into it,'” Jared said. “They were kind of into it freshman year, but you had some older guys who still had that mentality.”
The team still won games, reaching as high as third in the NCBA rankings, but never advanced past regionals.
“We never had a lack of talent,” Jason said. “I think it was just each year, we got more and more serious.”
It culminated in 2015 when every starter besides Finneran was a junior. After dominating Lane Community College in late April — a major turning point according to the brothers — the Ducks snuck into regionals and hit their stride.
Jason started the first game of regionals against Utah State and pitched into the 10th inning, giving up only one run. Jared started the rematch, earning the win that moved the Ducks into the World Series. The team then outplayed Florida State, Texas and Iowa State, earning a spot in the championship game.
“We were both ready to go for the championship,” Jared said. “He wanted the ball, and I wanted it … with the season he was having, it had to be him in the last game and I was ready to come in and relieve.”
Now defending champions, Oregon enters the 2016 season ranked No. 1 in the NCBA. In what will almost surely be Jared and Jason’s last season of competitive baseball, their sights are set on returning to Kentucky and accomplishing the rare feat of winning the last game of their respective careers.
“It’s very rare if you actually think about it; how often do you win that last game?” Jared said. “If you go to playoffs and don’t win it all, you lose your last game and you’re done. I remember finishing as a senior in high school thinking I’m done with baseball and it was heartbreaking, but it would be so much easier to win that last game.”
“For us to win not only the last game of the season, but the last game of my career, it wouldn’t get better than that,” he said.
Follow Will Denner on Twitter @Will_Denner
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