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Jamestown College tops Dickinson State for DAC title

Courtesy Photo by T.J. Allick/Minot Daily News Dickinson State's second baseman Dan Fernandez, right, slides back safely as Jamestown College first baseman Jordan Dusanj leaps to catch a pick off throw during the second championship game at the Dakota Athletic Conference baseball tournament Sunday at Corbett Field.

MINOT -- After suffering their first lost of the tournament, Jamestown College needed a lift.

Starting pitcher Ryan Lucero provided that lift in the deciding game of the Dakota Athletic Conference baseball tournament.

Lucero held Dickinson State scoreless through seven of the eight innings he pitched to lead the Jimmies to a 9-2 win and the title Sunday afternoon at Corbett Field.

"Ryan set the tone from the first pitch," Jamestown head coach Tom Hager said. "He hasn't thrown a lot lately as a starter, but we thought hey get him back in his comfort zone, out there as a starter and lets see what happens ä and he was lights out today."

Lucero gave up just two runs on seven hits with two walks and had six strikeouts in eight innings on the mound before giving way to Tyler Rice, who didn't allow a hit to the Blue Hawks in the final inning.

DSU forced the second game with another comeback win in Sunday's opener, in which the Blue Hawks overcame an 8-6 deficit to win 10-8 in 11 innings.

"We've done that a lot this year, and that has been one of the good things about our team is that we've come back in a lot of games," DSU head coach Duane Monlux said. "The tournament was no different. We just couldn't get enough magic to win that last game, but (Jamestown's) play had something to with that."

Lucero's confidence on the mound carried over to the plate for the Jamestown offense, which scored in all but three innings in the decisive win.

The Jimmies scored two runs to open the game and added another in the second to take a 3-0 lead. With Lucero keeping things in check, Jamestown scored a run in the fifth and three in the following inning to extend the lead to 7-0. To top it off, the Jimmies added runs in the eighth and ninth for insurance.

"We tried to play a little small ball in the beginning to set the tone offensively, and I think that allowed us to relax and get some runs on the board," Hager said. "And we just kept doing it the whole game."

Jeremy Newman led the Jimmies at the plate in Game 2, where he went 2-for-3 with a home run and two runs scored. Erik Church also hit a homer for Jamestown and was 3-for-5 with two runs scored in the win.

With the win, Jamestown moves back into the NAIA National Regional Tournament on May 12-15 in Sioux City, Iowa.

"It's very rewarding," Hager said of making the regional tournament.

DSU got another solid effort at the plate from Cody Holland, who finished the day 4-for-8 with a run scored and an RBI. Erfrain Ruiz went 2-for-4 in Game 1 with a home run, while Mike Nash hit a grand slam and finished with four RBI for DSU, which scored both its runs in the bottom of the eighth.

Monlux felt the Blue Hawks hit the ball well throughout the tourney, including the final game, but that they just lacked the timely hits that moved them into the championship.

"We got some hits, but we just couldn't get any key hits," he said. "I think both runs we scored were off of groundouts. We just could not get a hit to get us back into that game. But (Lucero) did a nice job and we kicked the ball around a couple of times early, fell into a hole and just couldn't get out."