University of Jamestown head baseball coach Tom Hager felt a mix of emotions Saturday afternoon at the Doane Ballfield Complex.
"I am very proud of how we played the game but very disappointed that our season had to come to an end," Hager said.
The Jimmies fell 3-1 to Doane University in the Great Plains Athletic Conference (GPAC) tournament ending UJ's season and sending Doane to the GPAC championship where they will face Concordia University on Tuesday at 6 p.m.
The Jimmies were coming off a four-game losing streak entering the tournament and while UJ dropped to Mount Marty in the opening round, Friday seemed to be a turning point for the Orange and Black.
"We preach mental toughness in our program and doing things the Jimmie way," Hager said. "I believe that my team exemplified that on both Friday and Saturday as we finished up the tournament. We may not have come out on top but our guys battled to the end and that's all you can ask for as a coach."
The Jimmies defeated Northwestern College (10-1) and Mount Marty (9-5) on Friday to advance to the tournament semifinals. Doane held a 4-0 record against the Jimmies, winning a pair of double-headers last weekend. The Tigers outscored the Jimmies by at least four runs at Jack Brown Stadium but tournament time brought on a different look to the Jimmie squad.
UJ kept things tight with Doane, with starting pitcher Kendall Yackley throwing 5.2 innings and striking out one batter. Yackley surrendered three runs off six hits.
"We pitched it really well," Hager said. "Anytime you can shut a team like that down to three runs or less, it says that you did something right on the mound. Kendall Yackley is a guy that has had some really good outings for us and today he gave us a chance to win."
It wasn't just Yackley who gave the Jimmies a chance to get the W.
"Cameron Jenkins was unbelievable out of the pen," Hager said. "He made a couple of adjustments from yesterday to today. He was able to throw his pitches with a little bit more conviction and he had a little bit more of a get-after-it mindset. When he does that, he's a big-time competitor and we saw that all day today.”
Jenkins threw 3.1 innings and gave up no runs and just one hit in 11 batters faced. The junior recorded five Ks.
"Between Yackley and Jenkins, they pitched their butts off, it just wasn't enough," Hager said.
Chase Hacker, a senior outfielder, tried to make up the difference out in the outfield, diving for an out that kept the Tigers out of scoring position. The senior was later attended to by the athletic trainer but re-emerged with a taped wrist to patrol the outfield. Hager said he was proud of how the entire Jimmie defense was able to contain the generally explosive Tigers.
"We felt like going into this year that our outfield play was going to be one of our biggest strengths and in one of the biggest games of the year we showed that," Hager said. "They played outstanding today."
Hager said the Jimmies were outstanding in other ways too.
"I am most proud of how our team handled themselves off the field," Hager said of the season. "There were lots of obstacles, COVID included, but I am really proud of the type of first-class individuals we have on our team."
Doane University 3, University of Jamestown 1
DU 100 002 000 -- 3 7 1
UJ 001 000 000-- 1 3 4
UJ -- Kendall Yackley, Cameron Jenkins (6); DU -- Jordan Wisner, Kyler Beekman (8); W -- Wisner, L -- Yackley.
UJ -- Lincoln Trujillo 1-4, Mike Asahara 1-3, Brice Foster 1-3
DU -- Jordan Wisner (7 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 6 K); Brett Meyer 1-4, RBI, Lukas White 1-4, Talon Little 1-2, Aaron Mason 1-4, Tucker Catlett 2-4, Luke LaChance 1-3.