With the crack of the bat — 28 to be exact — first baseman Jakob Christian set new PLNU and PacWest single-season home run records this year.
It was a season of many accolades for the third-year business administration major. After being selected to the All-PacWest First Team for first base, Christian was named the NCBWA NCAA Division II Player of the Year, Ron Lenz Player of the Year, and PacWest Player of the Year and ended the 2023 season with new program records of 41 home runs and 70 runs batted in.
The notable prowess didn’t stop with Christian. After another successful season (36-16 overall), PLNU baseball won their second-straight PacWest Conference Championship and appeared in a second-consecutive NCAA West Regional.
Nevertheless, it was a tough end to the season for the Sea Lions, as they endeavored to return to the NCAA National Championships. After losing a doubleheader against Cal Poly Pomona (5-4) and Cal State Monterey Bay (11-8), the team’s comeback bid fell just a bit short.
For Christian, two highlights of the season were when he hit walk-off home runs against Concordia University Irvine and Holy Names University.
“Those were probably the mark of my college career. I would do anything to be back in that moment right now,” Christian said.
Baseball has always been a prominent part of Christian’s life — some could even say it’s a part of his DNA. His grandfather, Max Christian, was a catcher in the Chicago Cubs Minor League Affiliates.
From his tee-ball days to playing for St. Augustine High School, Christian said that his grandfather was at every game.
“In Little League, I hit a home run and the ball rolled right up to his feet [where] he was sitting in the outfield,” Christian said. “That’s something I hold close to my heart.”
Christian said his grandfather is a big part of why he plays baseball.
“He’s been a big inspiration for me,” Christian said. “I was never at the stage that I am now with baseball when he was alive, so keeping on his legacy has been a really important thing for me. You got to have your why — I can’t just go out in the field and get nothing out of it.”
“YOU GOT TO HAVE YOUR WHY — I CAN’T JUST GO OUT IN THE FIELD AND GET NOTHING OUT OF IT.”
Christian credits much of his athletic career’s development to his coaches’ consistent support. He recalls assistant coach Riley Regala often getting to the field early to help players work on their skills, and head coach Justin James staying after practice to throw batting practice.
“Coach James does a great job at staying connected with his players,” Christian said. “We know that he cares about us more than just our performance; he cares about us as human beings and wants us to develop into the men that we should be and follow in the footsteps of Christ.”
In summer 2023, Christian signed to play with the Yarmouth Dennis Red Sox, a member of the Cape Cod Baseball League, in South Yarmouth, Mass. After college he plans to play professional baseball.
Fun Facts About Jakob Christian:
Favorite Baseball Players:
“Will Myers and Fernando Tatis Jr.”
Favorite Baseball Team:
“The Padres. My hometown guys. I want to see them win a World Series once.”
“Welcome to the Show by Cody Johnson. My all-time favorite.”
Favorite Spot on PLNU’s Campus:
“The third floor of the library because I can sleep there when I need to.”
Go-to Post-Game Meal:
“Don Tommy’s California burrito.”