Jimmie baseball is looking forward to once again saying hello to Bob Tereshinski Stadium tomorrow afternoon.
The last time the University of Jamestown played on the turf infield that Mount Marty College calls home in Yankton, S.D., the Jimmies belted 31 hits and scored 26 runs in a two-game sweep of the Lancers. Tomorrow's noon, nine-inning contest against Concordia University (Neb.) will determine the Great Plains Athletic Conference tournament champion.
The GPAC elected to move the conference championship site Monday from Concordia's home field in Seward, Neb., to Yankton because of a recent stretch of wet weather and more rain in the forecast. Concordia, the GPAC regular-season champion, had earned the privilege of hosting the title game.
"We played some great baseball against Mount Marty. Swung the bats well," said University of Jamestown baseball coach Tom Hager. "It felt good, so hopefully we can play as well as we did a couple weeks ago."
The Jimmies have taken their first GPAC conference tournament by storm, hosting half of the bracket as the No. 2 seed and rifling off wins over Morningside (8-0) and Northwestern College-twice (9-6, 9-6)-at Jack Brown Stadium, punching their ticket to the title game. Concordia sailed past Doane (12-1), Dakota Wesleyan (6-3) and Doane again (6-4) on its home grass at Plum Creek Ballpark to reach the championship.
UJ baseball was busy picking up its second win over Northwestern on Saturday as the rest of the institution was holding graduation at Harold Newman Arena. University of Jamestown held a special commencement ceremony for its graduating sports seniors on Monday, which included Saturday's hero: Tanner Roundy.
Roundy cracked a bases-clearing grand slam in the top of the eighth inning to blow open the win over the Red Raiders of Orange City, Iowa.
"We talked (Monday) in practice about the fact that we've had a lot going on, from graduation and finals, the conference tournament, and in and out of dorms and apartments," Hager explained. "It's been a busy time, but playing in the postseason is definitely a privilege.
"It's an opportunity and we want to make sure we enjoy it."
The Jimmies won't have the added pressure of reaching the national tournament hanging over their heads against the CU Bulldogs. As the conference's top two seeds, both Jamestown and Concordia will be advancing to NAIA Opening Round baseball games beginning May 13 at various campus sites around the country.
Jamestown, however, will be logging some miles in the coming week. The locations hosting opening-round games are in the following states: Kentucky, Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia, Louisiana, Florida and California. The host-site brackets, which will include all 45 teams qualified, will be announced Thursday, May 9, at 4 p.m.
Concordia and the Jimmies split a doubleheader in Seward back on April 13, with the Jimmies falling 3-2 before bouncing back 6-5 in a 14-inning game 2. The Jimmies' Matt Meraz (4-for-6), Drake Pilat (3-for-5), Grant Okawa (2-for-5) and Roundy all posted a multi-hit game in the extra-innings affair. Jimmie pitchers Andrew Reed, Kaleb Binstock and Joe Harris teamed up to hold the Bulldogs off the scoreboard over the final six frames, with Harris (5-1) notching the victory.
"I think our guys are just excited to get a chance to play, and, regardless of where it is, we're going to get a chance to play for a conference tournament championship tomorrow so everybody's pretty pumped," Hager said.
Concordia (32-17) is on a five-game winning streak and is coached by Ryan Dupic. Dupic has coached the Bulldogs to a record of 145-106 in five seasons. The program hadn't finished above .500 since 1979 prior to Dupic's arrival.
"We have a lot of respect for Concordia's players and coaching staff. They've improved a lot over the last few years and we know it's going to be a battle," Hager said. "Our focus is going to be on us and continuing to play the game the way we've been playing it over the last few weeks and we'll see what happens."