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ALL FACETS: Jimmies pitch, slug their way past Mustangs

University of Jamestown's Kensaku Akiya for a moment felt stranded at sea on the pitcher's mound at Jack Brown Stadium. Back-to-back singles and a wild pitch to start Thursday's Great Plains Athletic Conference tournament game facing Morningside ...

University of Jamestown's Kensaku Aklya delivers a pitch to a Morningside batter Thursday evening at Jack Brown Stadium. John M. Steiner / The Sun
University of Jamestown's Kensaku Akiya delivers a pitch to a Morningside batter Thursday evening at Jack Brown Stadium. John M. Steiner / The Sun
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University of Jamestown's Kensaku Akiya for a moment felt stranded at sea on the pitcher's mound at Jack Brown Stadium.

Back-to-back singles and a wild pitch to start Thursday's Great Plains Athletic Conference tournament game facing Morningside College put runners on second and third and nobody out for the Mustangs, and Akiya's perfect 6-0 record for the Jimmies looked to be in peril.

The native of Kawasaki, Japan found himself in a similar situation back in September to begin his UJ career. Akiya allowed six runs in three innings to Valley City State University in Jamestown's second fall baseball game of the season, but the Jimmies won 7-6.

"I was scared a little bit, but I just talked to myself, 'I'm fine, I'm fine," Akiya said. "I have defense, I have teammates. Stay calm and just make adjustments to get through all the pitches."

Akiya buckled down and not only got through the first inning unscathed, he'd toss six shutout innings and allow just four singles to Morningside in a convincing 8-0 victory. Jamestown moves on to face Northwestern College today at noon.

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"It was fun to watch tonight," said UJ coach Tom Hager. "Gotta give our pitchers credit for attacking the zone the whole game."

Akiya struck out Morningside's No. 3 and No. 4 hitters Nic Metcalf (looking) and Andrew Kasperbauer (swinging) to ease the tension in the first, before intentionally walking Levi Davidson to pitch to Dylan Gasner with the bases loaded. Aikya struck out Gasner on four pitches to end the inning.

Akiya eventually handed the ball over to junior Austin Pesicka with a 7-0 lead in the seventh. Pesicka, with no outs and a runner on first, immediately got MC's Carter Kratz to bounce into a double play on a comebacker to the mound, and he'd also get Gasner to ground into a 6-4-3 double play in the eighth.

Pesicka struck out a pair and wouldn't allow a hit over the final three frames. Aikya finished with seven strikeouts.

"That's a good baseball team (Morningside) and we pitched it really well," Hager said.

The Jimmies provided their arms all the support they'd need offensively. Senior third baseman Jaden Yackley opened the scoring with a bases-loaded, two-run single in the second, and he'd later connect for a solo home run in the eighth to make the final 8-0.

A five-run fifth by the home team blew the game open, which was orchestrated to perfection by the veteran coach Hager. The coach pinch hit Drake Pilat (.386, 26 RBIs) for Braxton Hewitt, who successfully laid down a sac bunt to move Tanner Roundy into scoring position at second. Hager then sat down designated hitter Lincoln Trujillo for Kaleb Binstock, and Binstock would promptly launch his fourth home run of the season over the right-field fence off Morningside starter Aaron Homme to put the Jimmies out front 4-0.

"It's team baseball, and we preach that," Hager said. "Sometimes you have to play the short game, sometimes you have a chance to hit a long ball. Give the guys credit who came into the game for coming up big."

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It was a thrilling moment for the senior Binstock, who has been dealing with fractures and a slightly torn tendon in his lower left leg after being hit by a baseball in practice in early April. The Grand Forks product missed a couple of weeks and has been trying to get back into form after leading UJ with 12 homers and 43 RBIs last season.

"It felt great. It felt like I was back to my old self a little bit in the batter's box," Binstock said. "I hadn't felt like that in awhile, and it felt really good to be in that position again."

UJ's Jared Bentley would also crack a run-scoring double into the right-field ivy in the fifth, chasing Homme off the mound, and UJ's Chase Hacker would come through with a two-run single off Morningside reliever Elliot Conover.

"Pretty much we've been saying it all year," Binstock said. "We can beat anyone in this conference if we just play our game and stick to ourselves. It doesn't matter who we're playing, just attack it as any other game, play our type of baseball and we'll probably come out on top."

The Jimmies (32-16) split a pair of games against Northwestern (22-23), today's opponent, falling 3-2 and winning 8-3 on March 16 in Topka, Kan.

"It was fun playing in front of our home crowd tonight," Hager said. "We get a chance to do that again tomorrow, so hopefully we can play more good baseball."

Northwestern 7, Midland 0

It took Northwestern College freshman pitcher Brady Roberts 83 pitches to shut out Midland University 7-0 in the opening game of the GPAC Jamestown bracket. Roberts fanned only two batters, but walked none over an impressively efficient nine innings.

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The Red Raider from Urbandale, Iowa, received plenty of support offensively. Ben De Boer (2-for-5), Sutton Derr (4-5), Austin Zylstra (2-4) and A.J. Nitzschke (2-5) each turned in a multi-hit performance to open postseason play. Zylstra connected for a two-run home run to right-center in the top of the fourth off Midland starter Andrew Snook.

Snook went six innings, allowing five earned runs on eight hits and four walks.

University of Jamestown 8, Morningside College 0

MC 000 000 000 -- 0 4 1

UJ 020 005 01X -- 8 9 4

Aaron Homme, Elliot Conover (6), Jake Cera (8) and Dylan Gasner. Kensaku Akiya, Austin Pesicka (7) and Zach Zurbrugg. W--Akiya. L--Homme

Highlights: MC, Homme 5.2 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 5 SO, 4 BB, 113 pitches. UJ, Akiya 6 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 7 SO, 3 BB, 106 pitches; Jaden Yackley, 3-4, HR, 3 RBIs; Kaleb Binstock 1-1, HR, 2 RBI; Jared Bentley, 1-3 2B, RBI; Grant Okawa 2-3; Chase Hacker 1-5, 2 RBI; Pesicka 3 IP, 0 H, 2 SO, 2 BB.

Records: Jamestown 32-16. Morningside 26-18.

Northwestern College 7, Midland University 0

NW 100 200 220 -- 7 12 0

MU 000 000 000 -- 0 5 2

Andrew Snook, Steven Boyd (7), Luke Egging (8) and Matt Abdelnour. Brady Roberts and Zach Rosson. W--Roberts. L--Snook.

Highlights: NC, Roberts 2 SO, 0 BB, 83 pitches; Austin Zylstra 2-4, HR, 2 RBIs; Ben De Boer 2-5, 2B, 2 RBIs; Sutton Derr 4-5, 2B, RBI; A.J. Nitzschke 2-4; Britton Yoder 1-3, 2B, RBI. MU: Snook 8 H, 5 ER, 2 SO, 4 BB; Dakota Thornton 1-3, 2B.

Records: Northwestern 22-23, Midland 23-24.

Great Plains Athletic Conference Tournaments

Baseball

At Jamestown (Jack Brown Stadium)

May 2

Game 1: (6) Northwestern 7, (3) Midland 0.

Game 2: (2) Jamestown 8, (7) Morningside 0.

May 3

Game 3: (6) Northwestern (22-23) vs. (2) Jamestown (32-16), noon.

Game 4: (3) Midland (23-24) vs. (7) Morningside (26-18), 3 p.m.

Game 5: Winner Game 4 vs. Loser Game 3, 6 p.m.

May 4

Game 6: Winner Game 3 vs. Winner Game 5, noon.

Game 7: If necessary (Game 6 winner/loser), 3 p.m.

At Seward, Neb. (Plum Creek Park)

May 2

Game 1: (4) Dakota Wesleyan 3, (5) Mount Marty 1.

Game 2: (1) Concordia 12, (8) Doane 1.

May 3

Game 3: Dakota Wesleyan (23-21) vs. (1) Concordia (30-17), 2 p.m.

Game 4: (5) Mount Marty (25-20) vs. (8) Doane (18-29), 5 p.m.

Game 5: Winner Game 4 vs. Loser Game 3, 8 p.m.

May 4

Game 6: Winner Game 3 vs. Winner Game 5, 4 p.m.

Game 7: If necessary (Game 6 winner/loser), 7 p.m.

May 7

Championship: Jamestown bracket winner vs. Seward bracket winner at highest seed, 3 p.m. (no lights) / 6 p.m. (lights). Single nine-inning game.

Softball

At Fremont, Neb. (Christensen Field)

May 2

Game 1: (5) Jamestown 11, (4) Northwestern 0 (5 innings).

Game 2: (8) Dordt 4, (1) Midland 3.

Game 3: (5) Jamestown 5, (8) Dordt 4.

Game 4: (1) Midland 11, (4) Northwestern 2 (6 innings).

May 3

Game 5: (1) Midland (29-8) vs. (8) Dordt (17-25), noon.

Game 6: (5) Jamestown (29-17) vs. Winner Game 5, 2 p.m.

Game 7: If necessary (Game 6 winner/loser), 4 p.m.

At Sioux City, Iowa (Jensen Softball Complex)

May 2

Game 1: (3) Concordia 6, (6) Mount Marty 4.

Game 2: (2) Morningside 6, (7) College of Saint Mary 1.

Game 3: (3) Concordia 9, Morningside 1 (6 innings).

Game 4: (4) Mount Marty 5, (7) College of Saint Mary 2.

May 3

Game 5: (4) Mount Marty (22-23) vs. (2) Morningside (27-8), noon.

Game 6: (3) Concordia (27-11) vs. Winner Game 5, 2 p.m.

Game 7: If necessary (Game 6 winner/loser), 4 p.m.

May 4

Championship: Fremont bracket winner vs. Sioux City bracket winner at highest seed, best-of-three series, 11 a.m.

Players from the University of Jamestown's dugout look on as a pitched ball goes whizzing by Thursday night at Jack Brown Stadium. John M. Steiner / The Sun
Players from the University of Jamestown's dugout look on as a pitched ball goes whizzing by Thursday night at Jack Brown Stadium. John M. Steiner / The Sun

Related Topics: NAIAJAMESTOWN JIMMIES
Savaloja is the sports lead writer for The Jamestown Sun.
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