JC ready for tourney time

The Dakota Athletic Conference baseball tournament opens today, the first of four postseason tournaments 23rd-ranked Jamestown College would like to be a part of.

The Dakota Athletic Conference baseball tournament opens today, the first of four postseason tournaments 23rd-ranked Jamestown College would like to be a part of.

Having earned the top seed for this weekend's tournament in Mayville by winning their third straight Dakota Athletic Conference title, the Jimmies (30-10-1) hope this is the first step of a trip back to the NAIA World Series.

"From the day we started, this team's goal has been to get to the World Series and do some damage," relief pitcher Jeff Kern said. "From the coaching staff to the players, this team has worked very hard to get where we are. It's been a great season so far, but no one is satisfied."

Unlike last year when they steamrolled through the regular season, before doing the same in the DAC-10 and Region III tournaments, the Jimmies expect to get a tough battle this weekend.

The standings suggest nothing less.


The Jimmies' 19-7 league mark was followed closely by Dakota State (16-8) and Si Tanka-Huron (17-9). All three teams beat each other at least once. The University of Mary (13-13), Dickinson State (13-13) and Valley City State (11-15) also took at least one game from the Jimmies.

"Our league was very balanced this year. We're not in a position to look past anybody and our team understands that," coach Tom Hager said. "We're taking the same approach we have in the past and that's to worry about how we play.

"It comes down to the same things we've been talking about for a long time. We have to pitch well, play good defense and get timely hitting," Hager continued. "If we do those things, I think we'll be successful."

The Jimmies have done all three all season long, especially the pitching part.

Their 2.39 earned run average is one of the best in the country.

Their gaudy numbers will be put to the test this weekend when the conference returns to aluminum bats after using wood during the regular season.

Second baseman Nate Burgard, a four-year veteran of the JC program, isn't too worried about the switch.

"Obviously, it's going to make it easier to score runs, but we're not going to change our approach at the plate," Burgard said. "We're more of a small-ball team anyway. We go up there and have quality at-bats. We've been successful doing it that way so there's no reason to make changes now."


After a slow start to the season offensively, the Jimmies have picked it up recently.

"I think the wood bats have made us better hitters," said Burgard, who has driven in a team-high 24 runs. "Our pitching has dominated all season and now we're picking it up offensively. We're getting everything together at the right time."

The Jimmies' .287 batting average is well below where it was last year. At the same time, opposing hitters are hitting just .194 against the JC pitching staff.

Fred Caron (5-3), Nate Hebrink (2-1), Derek Schlapbach (4-0), Josh Shaw (4-3), Craig Talbot (8-0) and Geoff White (5-1) all have held batters to averages of .184 or lower.

"It's kind of amazing the numbers we've been able to put up this year," said Kern, who has set a new school record with 10 saves this year. "There's a lot of talent on this staff. Any pitcher that goes out there is capable of throwing a complete game."

While the JC offense has taken a back seat to the pitching staff, they've still been consistent.

Robbie Jamison (.356) and Boya Quichocho (.347) lead the way with Kyle Larson (.300), Jed Steiner (.296) Jeremy Burgard (.284), Kevin Stork (.277) and Nate Burgard (.267) also putting up good numbers.

The Jimmies open the tournament against Minot State (0-30 overall, 0-24 DAC-10) at 2 p.m. today, knowing they are once again the team with the bullseye on their back


"We have high expectations for this team," Hager said. "It's also an experienced group that understands how to approach things in the postseason. You focus on playing good baseball one game at a time and for us that starts at 2 p.m. on Thursday."

Sun sports writer David Selvig

can be reached at (701) 952-8460 or by e-mail at

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