FLORENCE — Bitterroot Bucs graduating senior Jake Scully got some new material to tease his younger brother, freshman Drew Scully, after last Saturday's American Legion Baseball game against Cranbrook, British Columbia, Canada.
The younger Scully absolutely crushed a pitch that look destined to carry over the left field wall for a home run — what would have been his second of the day. Drew gave the bat a flip and settled into his home run trot.
The only problem is that the baseball caught the evening's heavy air and a gust of wind, pushing the ball back in the park as it bounced off the wall for an eventual double.
"If you bat flip and you don’t hit it over the wall, it’s a fine," Jake said, joking about the small penance his younger brother will have to pay up for meeting one of the team's list of minor infractions. "He's gonna get it."
"I'll probably hear about this for the rest of my life," Drew added, with a defensive smile.
That's because the Scully's are a baseball family. Along with Jake and Drew on the Class A Bucs roster, their dad, Florence School District Superintendent Bud Scully has coached the Bucs and is also an umpire. Jake and Drew's older brother Tyler is also the Class B club's head coach, and he was beside the dugout in uniform as well for the weekend's contests.
"It’s not just the Scully family, either," Tyler said. "The Parker family, my mom’s side, my grandpa played at BYU, my uncles (played college ball); it’s just a baseball factory, I call it. We just pump out baseball players."
Tyler himself played at Friends University in Kansas before coming back to help coach in Florence, and Jake — who just graduated from Florence — is set to play ball at Dakota Wesleyan University in South Dakota next year.
It was more than just Jake's acumen on the diamond that had the Tigers of South Dakota calling, too.
"His best quality might be his leadership, better than any of his baseball skills," Jake's older brother said. "He definitely has the baseball skills but to go to the next level you have to have leadership, you have to have drive and you gotta want it."
Those leadership skills showed themselves Saturday as the Bucs split a doubleheader with Cranbrook, ahead of the Bitterroot's senior day game against Libby on Sunday.
Sometimes they manifested in a little healthy ribbing of his younger sibling. Other times they showed in a soft word to a teammate trying to find the strike zone or even a high five after a tough at-bat.
"He shows up every day and helps his team get better. He never really gets down," Class A coach Austin Nogle said of Jake. "He might get down on himself a little bit, but he always has his teammates backs, always picks them up and he's just a great teammate, great leader, a great kid to have on your team."
Even when Jake didn't have the best day at the dish — he was 0 for 2 in Saturday's Game 2 finale against Cranbrook and the only starter to not record a hit in a 16-13 loss — Jake stayed up for the team.
In a game with eight errors between the two teams Jake was flawless in the field while playing third base, second and on the mound. He also reached base twice with a pair of walks and he scored twice.
"We talk about with this team that there’s positive influences in a game and negative influences in a game and we want to stay level," said Jake. "If you’re not doing it at the plate, you gotta do it in the field.
"I try to set an example for the other guys. If stuff’s not going your way in one way, try to find another way, whether that’s on the mound, in the field in the dugout. You have to stay up."
That attitude will be especially important come the approaching tournament season. While the Bucs sit at 19-27 overall and 6-12 in district play, the district tournament is essentially a new season. It looms July 18-21 in Libby.
The Bucs also have the benefit of an automatic bid to the state tournament as their home field in Florence is the host site.
But Jake said early in the season that his team's plan is to earn their trip to the state tournament with a good showing at districts. After all, he has been close to doing just that in his five seasons with the Bucs.
"One thing I think about is just how the hunger has been growing for a while. We’ve taken third every year I’ve been here," Scully said. "Going into my senior day I just think about all the things I remember from my rookie year being an eighth grader, all the things I’ve learned since then. I owe it to all these guys and this coaching staff, for getting me to where I am today."
One of those things Jake learned was when to bat flip — and when not to.
It was two weekends ago at a tournament in Libby that Jake was entered into the game at right field, an unusual position for the infielder/pitcher/catcher. He promptly had to make a diving catch to end the inning and coach Nogle considered subbing out his senior after the effort.
"It was pretty sick, but I accidentally broke my sunglasses," Jake said. "After that, Nogle was going to sub me out, but I told him I had to get an AB after that (play)."
Nogle agreed and the Bucs were rewarded with a no-doubter home run. The team clamored for Scully and Jake flipped his bat in recognition.
Even Nogle, an old-school style skipper, had to smile.
"These guys watch the big leaguers do it and they want to have fun doing it," he said. "It’s alright with me I guess as long as they’re having fun and getting the job done and being good teammates they can have their fun."
So you can forgive the younger Scully for trying to emulate his bigger brother after Drew thought he got all of a pitch last weekend.
But you just gotta know when to do it. Jake will surely help teach him that — it's something the Bucs' upperclassman has been good at.
"I love having him to mentor me and help me through my struggles. He's helped me get better, helped the team get better," Drew said of Jake. "He helps me with everything it’s really nice to have him."
Even if that means being on the bad side of a joke for a little bit.