Jimmies take talented team to MetrodomeA year ago this time, the Jamestown College baseball team had already practiced outside for a week prior to its opener. With reality returning in the form of a hard winter this year, the Jimmies have been resigned to the Larson Center so far, but in no way has that dampened spirits in advance of Friday’s season-opening doubleheader at the Metrodome in Minneapolis.
By: By Dave Selvig, The Jamestown Sun, The Jamestown Sun
A year ago this time, the Jamestown College baseball team had already practiced outside for a week prior to its opener.
With reality returning in the form of a hard winter this year, the Jimmies have been resigned to the Larson Center so far, but in no way has that dampened spirits in advance of Friday’s season-opening doubleheader at the Metrodome in Minneapolis.
“We got spoiled last year. We had to remind our guys that last year was unusual,” JC head coach Tom Hager said. “We’re back in the gym and you still have to make the most of your practices. You try to make sure the drills aren’t too redundant because we have to get our work in, we have to be ready.”
Based on Hager’s track record being ready won’t be a problem.
The Jimmies are coming off a 32-16-1 campaign and return a roster with few holes.
“We have a very talented team, but they have to create an identity for themselves,” Hager said. “We’ve been practicing a long time now and it’s time to step on the field and start to find out what kind of product we’re going to produce, and there’s no better place to do that than in a professional facility.”
It’s likely the last time the Jimmies, or any other college team, will get these games. The Metrodome is being torn down early next year to make way for the new Vikings stadium.
The Jimmies play St. Ambrose of Iowa twice Friday night and two more times Saturday with late starts both days. The Bees are the preseason pick to win the Midwest College Conference of the NAIA. It fits in with a theme of a daunting slate.
“We’re playing a very challenging schedule. Maybe the most challenging in years,” Hager said. “We’re going to find out a lot about ourselves in these first 15 to 20 games.”
The Jimmies boasted a run differential of a plus-108 last season (328-220). They return their entire infield, two outfield starters and a deep and seasoned pitching staff. Hager also sprinkled in a couple potential difference-making newcomers.
“There’s still been really good competition. Regardless of what you have coming back, you have to have competition within your roster, and we’ve had that,” he said.
Mitch Stevens (.336 avg., 3 HR, 22 RBI), Matt Achter (.424 avg., 1 HR, 13 RBI, 16 SB), Nico Moreno (.329 avg., 12 2Bs, 7 HR, 35 RBI), Spencer Flaten (.262 avg., 8 HR, 33 RBI, 19 SBs) and Jakob Ohmann (.300 avg., 1 HR, 19 RBI) provide plenty of middle-of-the-order pop. Nick Melino, a 3-time all-WAC pick at Division I Nevada, is expected to make a large impact.
Paul Roers (3-3, 3.09 ERA, 55 1/3 IP) tops the rotation. Adam Ranger (5-0, 3.47 ERA, 46 2/3 IP), Blake Stewart (5-2, 4.01 ERA, 33 2/3 IP) and Darren Iseri round out the opening-weekend starters.
Nick Smart (5 saves, 38 Ks, 33 2/3 IP) returns as closer. Kacy Gardiner (3-1, 1 save, 26 Ks, 28 1/3 IP) was dominant late last season and can start or relieve. Chris Combo also returns in the bullpen. LaMoure’s Ben Watkins (3-1, 3.45 ERA, 31 1/3 IP) is working his way back from a shoulder injury and also will contribute.
The Jimmies will actually play six games at the Metrodome. They face NCAA Division II Concordia-St. Paul March 5. Their annual trip to Arizona runs March 10-16. The home-opener is April 3 against Winnipeg. Like the basketball teams, they too host the Association of Independent Institutions tournament May 1-3 at Jack Brown Stadium.
2013 Projected lineup
C: Ryan Abel, Jr.; Nathan Christiuk, Jr.
1B: Mitch Stevens, Jr.
2B: Spencer Flaten, Jr.
SS: Rudy Strnad, Jr.
3B: Nico Moreno, Sr.
OF: Jonathan Minchella, Sr.; Matt Achter, Soph.; Nick Melino, Sr.
DH: Jakob Ohmann, Sr.
In the mix: Nolan Skowornek, INF, Jr.; Erik Peterson, Soph., INF; Andy Young, Fr., INF; Dylan Lafrentz, Jr., OF.
Starting pitchers: Paul Roers, Sr.; Adam Ranger, Sr.; Blake Stewart, Jr.; Darren Iseri, Jr.
Bullpen: Nick Smart, Jr.; Chris Combo, Sr.
Flex arms: Kacey Gardiner, Sr.; Landon Adelman, Jr.
Sun sports editor Dave Selvig can be reached at (701) 952-8460 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org