Top to bottom: Long lineup leads Jimmies to sweep
Long lineups tend to make for lengthy days for a pitcher.
“This team has really gelled well together,” said the sure-handed shortstop Strnad. “We feel really good about what we’ve done up to this point, but we all still feel like we can still improve individually and as a team.”
The Jimmies improved to 28-7 overall and appear poised to move into the NAIA top 25, possibly today when the new poll is released. They were 28th last week. Wednesday’s game against Valley City State has been postponed. The Jimmies host Dickinson State on Saturday.
UJ 9, UW 6
Neither team was particularly sharp in the opener, but the Jimmies banged out eight extra-base hits to cover up some defensive lapses.
Landon Uetz continued to swing a hot bat. The freshman from West Fargo had a two-run home run in the third inning and also doubled and scored as his team-leading batting average continues to hover comfortably above .400 thanks to a simple approach.
“I’m trying not to think too much. I’m surprised by it as anybody,” said Uetz, deflecting any credit. “You just try to go out there and have good at bats every time, just like everybody else on our team.”
The Jimmies scored three runs in the bottom of the first and fifth innings.
Paul Sitkowski had a two-run double in the bottom of the first and Achter doubled home Uetz in the bottom of the fifth as the Jimmies collected seven doubles in the game.
They also stole six bases with Strnad swiping three bags and Achter two.
“When you have that depth in your lineup, it definitely makes it tough on a pitcher, and then when you’re able to run and get extra bases that adds to it,” said UJ coach Tom Hager. “We’ve been pretty consistent this season having a lot of good at bats and being aggressive on the base paths, and when you do that you’re going to score some runs.”
Side-arming right-handed reliever Ryan Sheeley continued to gobble up innings in relief, throwing three scoreless frames to earn his fourth win of the season.
“He’s been so steady for us. He eats up innings and doesn’t give up much,” Hager said.
Both teams struggled defensively with five errors apiece.
“We weren’t really sharp to start out the day, but I thought we got better late in the first game and carried that over into the second game,” Hager said.
UJ 14, UW 3
Strnad went 3-for-4 for the second straight game as the Jimmies scored in all but the third inning to finish off the sweep.
Strnad, who did not play last season due to back surgery, has shown no ill effects.
“I can still feel it at times, especially offensively with the torque of swinging the bat, but it’s a situation where I feel like I’m getting better every day,” Strnad said. “I’m just happy to be out here with the team again. You miss that more than anything, just not being able to be a part of it and having that camaraderie.”
Erik Peterson got the Jimmies on the board first with a two-run home run in the bottom of the first inning. It was part of another big day for the junior from Bismarck, who finished 2-for-4 with five RBI and three runs scored.
Uetz, of course, also played a big part, going 2-for-4 with two more RBI, giving him 32, one behind Peterson for the team lead.
“I was given a role at the beginning of the season and you just try to make the most of it,” said Uetz. “The expectations here are to win, and you want to make sure you do your part, whatever that is. … It’s been fun. It’s a great group of guys.”
Achter was 3-for-3, with two doubles, two runs scored and an RBI. Sitkowski and Dylan Lafrentz were each 2-for-4 with two RBI and it all aided Ben Mortenson, who gave the Jimmies five solid innings on the hill.
“He did exactly what we needed out of him— five really good innings and it gave us a great chance to win the game,” Hager said.
LaMoure’s Gaige Dunn struck out the side in the sixth and Grant Mattes worked a scoreless seventh to end it.
University of Jamestown 9,
University of Winnipeg 6
UW 004 100 1 — 6 5 5
UJ 302 130 x — 9 14 5
Adam Luellman, Al Andre (5) and Rory Mitchell. Brendan Ethier, Ryan Sheeley (4) and Ryan Vernon. W—Sheeley (4-1). L—Luellman. 2B—UW, Matt Smith. UJ, Spencer Flaten 2, Matt Achter 2, Mitch Stevens, Nolan Skowronek, Landon Uetz. HR—UJ, Uetz (2). SB—UJ, Rudy Strnad 3, Achter 2, Peterson.
Jamestown 14, Winnipeg 3
UW 010 101 0 — 3 8 0
UJ 210 263 x — 14 14 2
Zach Campbell, Andre (4), Paul Esteves (6) and Mitchell. Ben Mortenson, Gaige Dunn (6), Grant Mattes (7) and Blackmon. W—Mortenson (2-0). L—Campbell. 2B—UW, Brent Dunn 2. UJ, Jordan Padilla, Strnad, Uetz, Dylan Lafrentz, Achter. HR—UW, Dunn. UJ, Erik Peterson (2). SB—UW, Nick Drews.
Sun sports editor Dave Selvig can be reached at (701) 952-8460 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org