Jimmies baseball working to stay hot in GPAC tourney against MMU
Since joining the GPAC, the Jimmies are 2-1 in the first round of the conference tournament.
CRETE, NEB. — If the University of Jamestown wants to get back to the GPAC conference championship game for the second year in a row, it will first have to beat Mount Marty University at noon on Thursday, May 4.
“I think we are. We’ve won probably 11 out of our last 12 or something like that,” Jimmies outfielder Hayden Brown said. “I think we’re playing good baseball and every day we’re getting better.”
The Jimmies are coming into the game with a 27-17 overall record and a 16-10 record in the GPAC. The Jimmies are riding a five-game winning streak. They have also won 11 out of their last 12 games of the regular season. The Lancers come into the game with a 36-13 overall record and a 19-9 record in the GPAC. The Lancers are on a six-game winning streak. The last time the Lancers lost they got swept in a home doubleheader against the Jimmies on April 23. The Jimmies won those games 8-5 and 5-4. Dating back to 2013, the Jimmies and Lancers have played 20 times with the Jimmies owning a 13-7 overall record and a two-game winning streak. The two teams have only played twice in the postseason with the teams splitting the matchups.
“Mount Marty is a quality baseball team,” Jimmies head coach Tom Hager said. “They had a great year but I like my team and how we’re playing right now. We know that they present a great challenge but at the end of the day, we’re gonna try to play our best version of Jimmie baseball. I like how we’ve built some momentum the last 10 or 11 games and if we can focus on doing what we do then I like our chances.”
The last few weeks of this Jimmies season are similar to last season where they went into the GPAC tournament with a 26-22 record, having won 14 of their last 19 games of the season.
“Last year we put together a heck of a run, not only late in the regular season but also in the tournament,” Hager said. “But this is a different team and a different version of last year’s team. So, I think we found different ways to win ballgames, we’ve really come together the last couple of weeks and the goal is to be better than we were last season. The goal is to win the conference championship and be playing in the first round of the national (tournament).”
Last year, the Jimmies made it all the way to the GPAC conference championship game where they lost 7-6 in extra innings to Concordia University (Neb.).
“It’s a sour taste in our mouth but we have a lot of new guys,” Brown said. “We’ve relayed the message how it felt last year and I think we have a lot of motivated guys to go in there and do some damage and win this thing.”
Out of the 20 Jimmies that participated in that game against the Bulldogs, nine players are back this year.
“Certainly this is a new team, we have a lot of new faces but those guys that were here last year, they know how well we played in the Doane bracket last year,” Hager said. “They know what it takes to get to a championship game and I think that experience will pay dividends.”
This season, the Jimmies’ Brown is hitting .358 with 10 homers and 33 RBIs. Brown also pitches for the squad as he has made 15 appearances compiling a 2.01 ERA with a 2-3 record and six saves. During the two recent games against the Lancers, Brown went a combined 2-for-6 with two RBIs.
“Mount Marty did a good job of pitching backwards, trying to get ahead with breaking balls, stuff like that, and then late in the counts using the fastball up,” Brown said. “I think we saw that two weeks ago and I think everyone on the team remembers that. We made some adjustments at the end of the series for the day and we started to swing it a little bit.”
Over the Jimmies' last four games of the season, they only used 11 pitchers. Despite having come to a decision on who his game one starter will be, Hager would not announce it.
“The goal this weekend was to win four games and play really good baseball but along the way, we were able to get several different guys innings of work without it being taxing on the bullpen,” Hager said. “I’m glad that it went the way that it did and I think that’s gonna pay off this week.”