A clutch performance out of the bullpen by the University of Jamestown's Brice Foster got the Jimmies to the finish line Sunday facing the NAIA's 22nd-ranked baseball team.
Foster, a fifth-year senior who joined the Jimmies at semester break, ate up three innings on the mound to get to UJ closer Aaron Pugh with two on and one out in the ninth against Concordia University in Seward, Nebraska.
The Bulldogs were able to scratch two runs across in the final frame, but Jamestown finished two days of Great Plains Athletic Conference baseball south of home with a confidence-boosting 11-9 victory over Concordia.
"Foster was really, really good in relief today," said University of Jamestown coach Tom Hager. "We've seen him come up big for us in many different situations, but today he was huge.
"He was kind of the stopgap to get us to Pugh and finish the game out."
Foster faced 12 batters and struck out three after the Jimmies had built an 11-4 lead heading into the bottom of the sixth behind a six-run third. A native of Lynnwood, Washington, Foster told those attending the April 16 Jimmie Booster Club luncheon at Harold Newman Arena that he's simply happy to be playing baseball.
Menlo College baseball in Atherton, California -- Foster's previous home -- canceled its 2020-21 season due to COVID. Menlo was the only team in the six-team Golden State Athletic Conference to cancel.
Primarily manning second base for the Jimmies, Foster is batting a team-leading .376 in 36 games with five home runs and 30 RBIs to go along with 18 1/3 innings pitched with 16 strikeouts.
"Kinda my whole career I've been a guy who's been a little bit overlooked," Foster said on April 16. "I didn't have any offers out of high school, didn't have any offers coming out of junior college.
"Luckily I had some connections through friends here and was able to get into contact with coach Hager and they've just brought me in and made me a part of the family and showed me the Jimmie way."
Jamestown's bats came to play following a quiet seven-inning opener won by the Bulldogs 5-2. The Jimmies clubbed 10 extra-base hits -- nine doubles and a Chase Hacker homer run -- during a 20-hit eruption that put the Bulldogs on their heels.
Jimmie shortstop Grant Okawa contributed three doubles during a 3-for-5 performance, which included a double leading off UJ's six-run third that snapped an early 4-4 tie. Dylan Dudley and Tayler Cullen followed suit with run-scoring doubles, and the frame was capped by Hacker's homer -- a two-run shot -- as UJ jumped out 10-6.
"Really proud of how we responded in game 2, especially offensively," Hager said. "Hits were tough to come by in game 1, but we set the tone from the get-go, had a lot of great at-bats -- a lot of great two-strike at-bats -- and got off and running."
The Jimmies mustered just five singles in the opener, striking out 14 times and committing four errors. UJ sophomore starter Payson Mills was saddled with the loss after none of the Bulldogs' five runs were earned.
"It was a difficult day today to be a pitcher and a fielder," Hager said. "High winds, difficulty picking the ball up and we made some mistakes we don't normally make. But I'm really happy with how we were able to turn some momentum in the seventh inning and it felt like that momentum carried over to game 2."
Jamestown's two runs came in the top of the seventh behind a Tanner Shepard pinch-hit, two-run single.
Concordia (30-7, 17-5 GPAC), the conference front-runner, entered the weekend leading the GPAC in team ERA and batting average, making the Bulldogs a difficult team to solve. But the Jimmies bettered the Bulldogs over nine innings to send UJ into the final week of the regular season with momentum.
Jamestown (27-17, 13-10) stands fifth in the conference and is scheduled to host Dickinson State for two games on Tuesday beginning at 2 p.m. and will wrap up conference play hosting Doane University for four games this weekend beginning Saturday at 1 p.m.
"There's no question that they're a good team for a reason," Hager said. "They're very potent offensively, they're very good on the mound, so to be able to jump back on the bus with a good win, that's something we're going to carry into next weekend."
Jimmies split at Morningside
UJ's Dru Fitz tossed a seven-inning, four-hit gem on Saturday in Sioux City, Iowa.
Jamestown's ace allowed zero walks and struck out seven as the Jimmies toppled Morningside College 5-1.
UJ scored all five of its runs in the top of the fourth. The Jimmies sent nine batters to plate -- beginning with an Okawa single to lead off the frame -- and scored all their offense on six hits and one Morningside error in the frame.
UJ's Matt Meraz finished the game 2-for-2 with a walk and a triple. Fitz improved to 6-1 and lowered his ERA to 2.82.
"Dru was outstanding," Hager said. "He was able to minimize some damage early in the game and then just pitched his butt off. He's been really good for us all year, but against Morningside, he threw a heckuva game."
The Mustangs bounced back to win 8-4 in the nine-inning game 2.
At Seward, Nebraska
(22) Concordia University (Neb.) 5, University of Jamestown 2
J 000 000 2 -- 2 5 4
C 014 000 X -- 5 8 1
Batteries: J, Payson Mills, C. Multer (5) and Dirk Eymundson. J. Fosgett, S. Whittaker (6), N. Buckallew (7) and B. Berg. W-Fosgett. L-Mills.
Highlights: J, Mills 4 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 1 SO; Tanner Shepard 1-1, 2 RBI; Michael Asahara 0-1, RBI.
C, Fosgett 5 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 12 SO; Whittaker 1 IP, 1 H, 2 R, 2 ER; 1 BB, 2 SO; J. Adams 2-4, 2B, RBI; T. Johnson 1-3, RBI.
Records: Concordia 30-6, 17-4 GPAC. Jamestown 26-17, 12-10.
University of Jamestown 11, Concordia University (Neb.) 9
J 226 001 000 -- 11 20 3
C 040 002 102 -- 9 12 0
Batteries: J, Kendall Yackley, Austin Pesicka (3), Cameron Jenkins (5), Brice Foster (6), Aaron Pugh (9) and Dirk Eymundson. C, N. Little, D. Ward (3), C. Johnson (3), A. Cotton (6) and B. Dorman. W-Pesicka. L-Little. S-Pugh.
Highlights: J, Yackley 2 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 2 HR, 0 BB, 2 SO; Pesicka 2 1/3 IP, 2 BB, 4 SO; Pugh 2/3 IP, 1 H, 1 SO; B. Arritola 2-5, 2B, RBI, R; Grant Okawa 3-5, 3 2B, 3 R; Dylan Dudley 1-4, 2B, RBI; Lincoln Trujillo 3-5, 2B, 3 RBI; Tayler Cullen 2-5, 2B, RBI; Chase Hacker 3-5, HR, 3 RBI, 2 R; Michael Asahara 4-5, RBI.
C, Little 2 IP, 9 H, 8 R, 8 ER, 0 BB, 2 SO; J. Faulk 2-4, 2 HR, 2 RBI; B. Berg 2-5, HR, 2 RBI; J. Grabanski 2-5, HR, 2 RBI.
Records: Jamestown 27-17, 13-10 GPAC. Concordia 30-7, 17-5 GPAC.
At Sioux City, Iowa
University of Jamestown 5, Morningside College 1
J 000 500 0 -- 5 8 1
M 010 000 0 -- 1 4 1
Batteries: J, Dru Fitz and Dirk Eymundson. M, C. Thomson, M. Nickerson (7) and G. Kale. W-Fitz. L-Thomson.
Highlights: J, Fitz 7 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 7 SO, 96 NP; Tayler Cullen 1-4, 2B; Grant Okawa 1-3, BB, R; Luke Shekeryk 1-4; Matt Meraz 2-2, 3B, BB, RBI, R; Brice Foster 1-3, RBI, R; Michael Asahara 1-1, RBI; Chase Hacker 1-3, SB.
M, Thomson 6 2/3 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 13 SO, 109 NP; A. Bishop 2-3, 2B, 3B, RBI.
Morningside College 8, University of Jamestown 4
J 000 112 000 -- 4 8 2
M 200 001 50X -- 8 10 3
Batteries: J, Kensaku Akiya, Cameron Jenkins (6), Andy Reed (7), Nick Soltero (7), Ben Ray (7) and Dirk Eymundson, Connor Mormon. M, B. Mount, C. Parks (6), J. Kyle (6), M. Nickerson (6), Q. Holman (9) and G. Kale and B. Smutz. W-Kyle. L-Jenkins.
Highlights: J, Aikya 5 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 5 SO, 69 NP; Jenkins 1 1/3 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 1 SO; Dylan Dudley 1-3, HR, RBI; Tayler Cullen 2-4, 2B, SB; Kendall Yackley 1-4, RBI, SB; Chase Hacker 2-3, R, BB.
M, Mount 5 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 HR, 1 BB, 7 SO, 84 NP; Kyle 1/3 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 1 SO; E. Brancato 1-4, 2B, 3 RBI; M. Boomgaard 2-3, 2 R; A. Bishoip 2-5, RBI; G. Kale 2-2.