The ride is over for University of Jamestown's first Great Plains Athletic Conference baseball tournament champions.
The Jimmies' season came to a close Tuesday, May 14, in loser-out play of the NAIA Opening Round tournament in Santa Barbara, Calif. Tournament host Westmont College broke open a 3-3 game with a four-run ninth inning to defeat the Jimmies 7-3 at Russ Carr Field.
Jamestown finishes 2019 at 35-18 overall, one day after falling to Arizona Chrstian 5-4 in the opening game of the Santa Barbara Bracket.
"We played our tails off today and I'm really proud of our team in how they competed both days. But make no mistake about it, we're extremely disappointed with this finish," said University of Jamestown head baseball coach Tom Hager. "The disappointment comes from losing two games that we felt like we could have won. And, the disappointment comes from our season being done when we really like being together.
"It means that 2019 for this team is over with, and that's hard to swallow."
Jamestown pitching allowed 11 walks to the Warriors on Tuesday after issuing seven free passes in Monday's loss to the Firestorm. A pair of walks, the second of two Jimmie errors and two hits by Westmont led to the game-changing rally in the top of the ninth for the home team in UJ's finale.
The Warriors were able to load the bases against UJ relief pitcher Joe Harris and the Jimmies with no outs in the decisive frame. A run-scoring single by Westmont's Taylor Bush chased Harris off the mound in exchange for Kaleb Binstock, who then watched three more Westmont runners cross on a Travis Vander Molen single, a Taylor Roper walk with the bases loaded and two outs, and finally a passed ball charged to UJ senior catcher Zach Zurbrugg with the bases full.
Harris recorded two outs in the eighth and shouldered the loss, after senior left-handed starter Tanner Roundy allowed a pair of runs on three hits and seven walks through the game's first 5 2/3 innings. On the flip side, Westmont starter Grant Gardner went the distance (101 pitches) and didn't allow a walk.
"When you're playing good teams you definitely have less room for error, and unfortunately we walked a few too many guys and we didn't swing the bats well enough," Hager said. "It had nothing to do with effort, it had nothing to do with intensity. It just came down to some small things that end up being a big deal when you're playing against good teams."
Out of the Jimmies' eight hits against Gardner, Grant Okawa's lead-off double in the fifth was UJ's only extra-base hit of the contest and just the team's second of the two games. The Jimmies grabbed an early 2-0 lead on two hits and three Westmont errors in the second, and Zurbrugg was able to score Okawa (2-for-2) from second on a single in the fifth to break a 2-2 tie.
Vander Molen, the Warriors' junior first baseman, knotted the score again at 3-3 with an RBI triple in the eighth off UJ reliever Andrew Reed.
Jamestown will by saying goodbye to senior starters Roundy (pitcher/center fielder), Zurbrugg (catcher), Binstock (pitcher/ right fielder), Jaden Yackley (third base) and Drake Pilate (first base), along with senior pitchers Seth Pigg, Jesse Prothero, Joe Spradlin, Marshal Burgess and Dakota Nelson.
"This team accomplished a lot, not only on the field but off the field," Hager said. "This is a great group of guys that went about things in a first-class manner, and they'll also always hold a place in history as (UJ's) first GPAC (baseball) champions. Certainly, we're proud of them."
(22) Westmont College 7, University of Jamestown 3
WC 000 110 014 -- 7 8 1
UJ 020 010 000 -- 3 8 2
Grant Gardner and Tyler Roper. Tanner Roundy, Andrew Reed (6), Joe Harris (8), Kaleb Binstock (9) and Zach Zurbrugg. W--Garnder. L--Harris.
Highlights: WC: Gardner 9 IP, 8 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 5 SO; Travis Vander Molen 2-3, 3B, 2 RBI; Isaiah Leach 1-2, 3 BB, 1 RBI; Roper 1-4, RBI; Nick Sablock 1-4, HR, RBI, 2 R; Taylor Bush 1-5, RBI; Luke Coffey 1-5, 2B, R.
UJ: Roundy 5.2 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 7 BB, 7 SO; Reed 1.2 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 3 SO; Harris 2/3 IP, 2 H, 2 ER, 1 BB; Binstock 1 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 SO, 1-4, R; Matt Meraz 3-4, R; Grant Okawa 2-2, 2B, R; Zurbrugg 1-4, 2 RBI.
Records: Westmont 35-15. Jamestown 35-18.