Jimmies look to stay hot against Morningside in GPAC tourney opener
The Jimmies are looking for their first conference win since May 7, 2021.
CRETE, NEB. — After the GPAC tournament was delayed for a day due to weather, the University of Jamestown travel to Crete, Nebraska, at noon on Friday, May 6, to face off against Morningside University in a single nine-inning contest. In the all-time series between the two teams, the Mustangs own an 11-7 record and are currently on a three-game winning streak.
Jimmies head coach Tom Hager said his team is ready to face a tough Mustangs team in the first round of the tournament.
“They’re a good college baseball team. They have been hot, especially over the last month or so, so have we,” Hager said. “We played them in some close games here in Jamestown three or four weeks ago. We know they are solid top to bottom on offense and on the mound. They are going to be a challenge, we’re excited about it.”
The No. 5-seeded Jimmies (26-22, 15-12) hosted the No. 4-seeded Mustangs (31-15, 17-11) in a doubleheader on April 10. In those two games, the Mustangs scored 17 runs on 24 hits to sweep the Jimmies and send them to 18-19 overall. The Jimmies responded by going 8-3 over their last 11 games of the season. After that sweep, the Mustangs finished the season going 11-4 in their last 17 games.
“I think we were playing pretty darn good baseball even prior to the Morningside series,” Hager said. “We didn’t play real well that day, but we knew that we couldn’t have another day like it and we haven’t. We’ve played awfully well since that Morningside series, give them credit, they’re a really good team, and we have to play our best.”
One of the pitchers the Jimmies will be relying on in this tournament is Hayden Brown, who has a team-leading 0.77 era in 10 appearances with 15.43 strikeouts per nine innings, a 2-0 record and three saves.
“I think we need to play good defense, pitch well,” Brown said. “I think the rest will handle itself. If we come out with confidence and play our game, we’ll be all right.”
One of the contributing factors to the Jimmies' offensive explosion as of late in which they scored 10 or more runs in three of their last five games has been Luke Shekeryk. The senior infielder said he has been working to wait on his pitch more than he was earlier in the season.
“Before, I was chasing pitches I didn’t really want because I was getting aggressive,” Shekeryk said. “Now I am letting pitches come to me and I’m doing damage.”
Hager said one of his team’s strengths coming into this tournament is the fact that they are playing their best baseball at the right time.
“I think we’ve been learning how to win,” Hager said. “We have an interesting mixture of veteran players and some young guys. It’s taken us a while to figure out how to win. But right now we’re finding ways to do that. I think heading to the postseason we found a way to get the job done.”