Boe's walk-off HR gives Jimmies title
In a seemingly never-ending baseball game defined by small ball and capitalization on miscues, one mighty swing brought an explosive ending to the Dakota Athletic Conference.
With the game tied in the 11th inning, Jamestown College junior Max Boe blasted a walk-off solo home run over scoreboard in right field and out of Southside Municipal Ballpark on Saturday afternoon to give the Jimmies the 5-4 victory in the DAC championship game.
Boe, who waited on his first pitch to lead off the 11th before absolutely crushing the game-winner off Mayville State left-handed reliever Josh Drews, said Jimmies coach Tom Hager gave him a choice when he went to the plate.
"He told me I could either drag or crowd the plate and turn on one. I picked the latter," Boe said, still trying to catch is breath after sprinting around the bases and sliding into home plate where his celebrating teammates greeted him.
"It's indescribable," Boe added. "The top experience of my life. I love it."
It was a painful ending for the top-seeded Comets (27-13), who won their first three games of the tournament before losing to third-seeded Jamestown 9-2 in the first championship game on Friday.
Already playing without suspended first baseman Ricky Alvernaz and injured shortstop Dan Bauer, the Comets lost another starter when right fielder Brad Ferraro injured his ankle following a single to the shortstop.
"You start pulling all those kids out of there and it makes it a real challenge," said Mayville State coach Scott Berry said.
The teams traded runs in the second and third innings before Mayville State took a 4-2 edge in the sixth.
Mark Kuzyk scored on a wild pitch in the fourth to give the Comets a 3-2 lead and then Tanner Carpenter doubled to right to score Alex Berry and make it a two-run game.
But, Jamestown stayed cool.
Tim Penner drove in pinch-runner Nathan Christiuk on a single in the bottom of the sixth and Kyle Mallory's single to let in the eighth inning scored Joe Perez to tie the game.
At that point, the Jimmies (31-11) went to ace Alex Kreis -- their fourth pitcher of the day -- to gain control.
The senior right-hander from Grand Forks faced 11 batter and struck out six in three innings of work to earn the win.
"We didn't know how he would be, but we knew he had a couple innings in him," Hager said. "It allowed us to relax a little bit. He was absolutely overpowering and it was fun to watch."
The Jimmies had to win five games at the tournament to clinch their fourth DAC tournament title and a place in the NAIA national tournament's opening-round series May 12-16 against a yet-to-be-determined opponent.
Mayville State beat Jamestown 12-4 in last year's conference title game.
This one, however, was far better in the eyes of Hager.
"You talk about great college baseball games," Hager said. "This was one of the best I've ever been a part of."
It was the final DAC tournament under the league's current system. Next year, the DAC will be down to four teams and will likely not hold a postseason tournament.
The game also brought an end to an emotional and memorable 10 months for Scott Berry, Mayville State's coach of 29 years.
Last July, he lost his wife Laurie after a long battle with cancer and the team dedicated the season to her, accenting the team's royal blue gear with pink in her honor.
Berry even took to wearing custom pink and black Reebok shoes with the initials 'LB' on them.
In October, he had the Comets' field named in his honor. In March, he surpassed 800 career victories.
Only days later, while returning from a game in South Dakota, Berry and the Comets helped rescue a family friend who was stranded after driving into a ditch during a winter storm.
In the moments following the game, the veteran head coach was there with some sage words of advice for his visibly upset players.
"It's bound to be emotional," Berry said. "You play your butt off, you care that much and you're a senior in possibly your last game. It's hard."
MSU 011 101 000 00 -- 4 12 2
JC 011 001 010 01 -- 5 13 2
Trevor Lishanko, Joe Ferreira (4), Josh Drews (6) and Billy Tomblin. Ben Watkins, Nick Smart (4), Chad Boldt (5), Alex Kreis (9) and Griffin Sweazey. W-Kreis. L-Drews. HR-JC, Max Boe.
Highlights: MSU, Mark Kuzyk 2-for-6, run; Alex Berry 3-for-4, run; Jake McLain 1-for-4, run; Tanner Carpenter 2-for-5; Ferreira 1-for-4, run; Brad Ferraro 1-for-1, RBI. JC, Max Boe 2-for-6, HR, 2 runs; Keith Woelber 2-for-5; Andy Racus 2-for-4, run; Tim Penner 2-for-4, RBI; Andy Scott 2-for-3, RBI; Kyle Mallory 1-for-5, RBI.