Bombs away: Five-homer fifth carries Jimmies past Cobbers

By the time Michael Asahara took his second pinch-hit at-bat of the fifth inning Monday, the University of Jamestown Jimmies had already launched four home runs against visiting Concordia College, Minnesota, in the frame.

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Coach Tom Hager (with mask) has a chat with the infield Monday, April 5, 2021, at Jack Brown Stadium. John M. Steiner / The Sun

By the time Michael Asahara took his second pinch-hit at-bat of the fifth inning Monday, the University of Jamestown Jimmies had already launched four home runs against visiting Concordia College, Minnesota, in the frame.

The sophomore reserve, who singled in his first plate appearance, wanted in on the action.

Asahara tattooed dinger No. 5 in an epic five-homer, 13-run inning for the Jimmies with the wind howling out to left field at Jack Brown Stadium.

The Jimmies defeated the Cobbers 18-13, clawing out of an early eight-run, 11-3 deficit through three.

"I definitely don't think I've ever been a part of something like that," said Asahara, a native of Spanaway, Washington. "But we knew from the beginning it was just, pass the torch, get the at-bat to the next guy.


"Do whatever you can to get on and good things will happen."

Jamestown sent 17 batters to the plate in the fifth, scoring 10 runs before a Brice Foster RBI sacrifice fly hit to the wall in center became UJ's first out of the inning. Foster, who clubbed a three-home homer eight batters earlier, recorded UJ's fourth and 13th at-bats of the monster fifth, driving in four runs.

"We've got really good hitters and today they showed that," said UJ baseball coach Tom Hager. "We got rolling a little bit last weekend, put some runs on the board, and today we put up a bunch, so hopefully we can keep that rolling into the weekend."

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University of Jamestown's Brian Rice follows thru on a fly ball to the outfield Monday, April 5, 2021, at Jack Brown Stadium. John M. Steiner / The Sun

Jamestown's on-deck circle transformed into a turnstile. UJ slugger Luke Shekeryk led off the fifth-inning assault with a solo blast, his ninth of the year, and junior left fielder Tayler Cullen (solo) and senior shortstop Grant Okawa (two runs) also went yard.

Typically sound defensively in the field, Okawa made up for a pair of errors committed earlier in the game as the Jimmies trailed 12-5 entering their half of the fifth. UJ's Brain Rice also made a pair of defensive miscues in right field, as Jamestown's first two pitchers, starter Mitchell Dennis and reliever Logan O'Neil, allowed 10 runs -- seven earned -- and both exited in the third before recording an out.

The Cobbers (7-5) struck for eight runs in the third to lead 11-3.


"Usually I rely on that defense as my backbone," Okawa said. "But you just have some days where you make a couple errors, might take some bad hops, might not. Right there we just have to ride the highs and the lows of the game and just keep your emotions in check and just make sure you're ready for the next play.

"Just glad we got the win. The boys had that one big inning and just moving on to the next day."

Shekeryk also singled in the fifth, giving the left-handed designated hitter two hits in the frame along with Asahara and third baseman Kendall Yackley (two doubles).

The Jimmies sailed seven total baseballs out of the park Monday, with Rice and first baseman Dylan Dudley clearing the fence in the first inning of the 31-run game. Dudley and Matt Meraz both singled and walked in the fifth, and Rice drove in two with a ground-rule double that hopped over the fence in center.

All told, Jamestown's 13 fifth-inning runs came on 12 hits, two walks and one Concordia error.

"We just handled the pitches we could," Okawa said. "The wind helped us out on a couple balls there, but just hitting home runs is no better feeling and I'm glad the boys had the confidence and mental capacity to do their jobs at the plate. I'm proud of all the guys."

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Concordia's Bryan Weideman (1) looks from the mound to University of Jamestown's Tayler Cullen as he takes a lead off of first base Monday, April 5, 2021, at Jack Brown Stadium. John M. Steiner / The Sun


The Jimmies eventually settled in on the mound. Junior Ben Ray allowed one hit in the fifth and senior Chase Hacker fired the next 2 2/3 innings, surrendering a solo home run to Concordia's Matt Gruber in the top of the eighth.

Austin Pesicka recorded the final out of the eighth for UJ and Aaron Pugh tossed a hitless ninth.

"That's a mental toughness win right there," Hager said. "It could've gone either way and I'm just really proud of how we hung in there."

Hager was particularly pleased with his middle-inning arms, Ray and Hacker.

"I thought they did a nice job out of the bullpen," Hager said. "It was really important how those two were able to stop the bleeding."

Concordia's designated hitter D'Agostino Chrisanto and Jack Naugle both doubled and drove in three. Shortstop Thomas Horan also homered, driving the total number of balls that jumped out of Jack Brown Stadium on Monday to nine.

"I think it comes down to the fact that we can win games in a lot of different ways, and today we did it with the long ball," Hager said. "We were able to get some really good pitching to close out the game and we made the plays when we needed to."

The Jimmies return to Great Plains Athletic Conference play this weekend, hosting Dakota Wesleyan for four games beginning Saturday at 1 p.m. The Jimmies (21-12, 7-5 GPAC) and the Tigers (10-13, 4-8) will finish the weekend series Sunday beginning at noon.


"We're fortunate in some ways to have a lot of guys back this year," Asahara said. "We've preached all year and all last year that the depth on this team is outstanding."

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University of Jamstown's Grant Okawa makes a throw to first base for an out Monday, April 5, 2021, against Concordia at Jack Brown Stadium. John M. Steiner / The Sun

University of Jamestown 18, Concordia College (MN) 13

CC 308 010 010 -- 13 13 2

UJ 300 2(13)0 000 -- 18 17 5

Bryan Weidemann, Nathan Leitner (4), Justin Kloster (4), D'Agostino Chrisanto (5) and Jack Naugle. Mitchell Dennis, Logan O'Neil (3), Cameron Jenkins (3), Ben Ray (5), Chase Hacker (6), Austin Pesicka (8), Aaron Pugh (9) and Dirk Eymundson. W-Ray. L-Kloster.

Highlights: UJ, Jenkins 2 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 2 SO; Ray 1 IP, 1 R; Hacker 2 2/3 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER; Brian Rice 2-5, HR, 2B, 2 RBI; Grant Okawa 2-6, HR, 2 RBI; Luke Shekeryk 2-4, HR, RBI; Dylan Dudley 2-5, HR, 2 RBI; Matt Meraz 1-3, RBI; Brice Foster 2-4, HR, 2B, 4 RBI; Tayler Cullen 1-3, HR, RBI; Michael Asahara 2-2, HR, 2 RBI; Kendall Yackley 3-5, HR, 2B, RBI.


CC, Thomas Horan 3-4, HR, 2 RBI; Matt Gruber 2-5, HR, RBI; D'Agostino Chrisanto 3-5, 2B, 3 RBI, 3 1/3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 4 BB, 0 SO; Jack Naugle 1-2, 2B, 3 RBI.

Records: Jamestown 21-12. Concordia 7-4.

Savaloja is the sports lead writer for The Jamestown Sun.
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