After winning its last four games, the JU baseball team (16-13) will travel to No. 8 Florida (20-7) to face the Gators at McKethan Field on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m.
JU trails the all-time series against UF, 39-25, including a 7-4 loss at McKethan Stadium last year. The two teams have played to a split, 2-2, in the last four meetings - including three games in Gainesville.
The game can be heard live on 1010XL with Barry Milligan calling all of the action. The game can also be followed on Live Stats or GameTracker by logging onto JUDolphins.com.
After going 3-7 in their last 10 games, which included the program’s first four-game losing streak since 2008, JU has won its last four games - its second four-game streak of the year....the Dolphins are 1-9 on the year when not hitting a home runs as opposed to an 15-4 record with a home run...with its three-game sweep over USC Upstate, the Dolphins increased their record to 5-6 on the road this season...the Dolphins are 4-6 in their last 10 games against ranked opponents - including a 1-1 mark in 2010.
Murphy breaks out
An A-Sun all-Freshman selection last season, sophomore outfielder Jonathan Murphy had a lot of high expectations for him in 2010 but it took a while to get started.
After starting the year on an 0-for-13 slump, Murphy saw himself playing sparingly and was hitting a paltry .103 (4-39) with only one extra-base hit (triple) on March 23.
The coaching staff decided to make a change and keep him in the lineup to work his way out of it and the move has proved beneficial for both parties.
Since being inserted into the lineup on a regular basis on March 23, Murphy is hitting .412 (14-34) with three doubles, a triple, two home runs, 11 RBI, a .735 slugging percentage and a .436 on-base percentage.
During that span, he has raised his batting average nearly 150 points to .250.
Producing more than just cheese
Thus far in 2010, the Wisconsin freshman duo of Dan Gulbransen and Adam Brett Walker are making Dolphin fans contemplate Cheesehead gear despite the Jacksonville Jaguars living across the St. John’s River.
The initial thought process for the JU coaching staff was to bring the duo along slowly to get them used to the college game. Instead of battling for playing time, the duo is battling for the title of Atlantic Sun Conference “Freshman of the Year.”
Gulbransen, a 5-foot-10, 205 pound, center fielder from Appleton, currently leads the squad with a .396 batting average, 30 runs, 33 RBI, a .541 on-base percentage and 30 walks.
A four-year starter at Fox Valley Lutheran HS, Gulbransen finished his prep career with 126 hits and 26 home runs.
A four-time all-conference selection, he was named first team all-state and all-area while garnering Eastern Valley Conference “Player of the Year” honors.
Walker, a 6-foot-5, 225 pound, OF/DH from Milwaukee, leads JU with 11 home runs and a.745 slugging percentage while ranking second with 30 RBI and fifth with a .330 batting average.
A three-year starter at Milwaukee Lutheran HS, Walker was named all-state, all-area and all-conference as a junior and senior. He played in the Brewer Classic at MIller Park and was an invitee to the 2009 Powerhouse Showcase Home Run Derby at Tropicana Field.
In overall team production, the Wisconsin duo has combined for 71-of-320 hits, 14-of-65 doubles, 18-of-37 home runs and 63-of-218 RBI.
Hawkins named to Wallace Watch List
Junior Jamaal Hawkins has been coming into his own over the last month and his efforts have put him on the national radar as he was named to the Wallace Watch List for shortstops.
Things didn’t start off so hot for Hawkins at the beginning of the season as he batted .250 (7-28) with only two extra base hits (two doubles) in the first 11 games.
After a short benching, Hawkins was inserted back into the lineup on March 10 and has been nothing short of phenomenal ever since.
Since March 10, Hawkins is tearing the cover off of the ball by hitting a sizzling .444 (32-72) with nine doubles, five home runs, 22 RBI, 56 total bases, a .778 slugging percentage and a .488 on base percentage.
”Wild Thing” is back
JU has been in desperate need of a closer since Hunter Davis tallied 11 saves in 2005 and now the Dolphins have one in junior Chris Kaminski.
The Richmond, Texas native joined JU in 2009 after going 6-0 with a 3.86 ERA, four saves and 54 strikeouts as a freshman at Weatherford Junior College. Kaminski lived up to the hype by leading the A-Sun with eight saves in nine opportunities last season while toping the bullpen with 25 appearances, a 2.70 ERA, five wins and 33.1 innings, helping the squad to a 28-1 record when leading after eight innings. For his efforts, he earned A-Sun second team all-conference honors and was named to the 2010 preseason all-conference team. With a save against at USC Upstate on April 3, he surpassed Matt Davis (13, 2005-08) and Casey Shumaker (13, 2000-01) for second on the all-time list. He needs only three saves to overcome Joe Ausanio (16, 1985-88) as the programs top closer.
Arms making their way back
The Dolphin pitching staff was not at 100 percent at the start of the season but the squad is slowly working towards that goal.
Junior Matt Loosen was sidelined the first two weeks with a knee injury but made his first appearance on Feb. 28 and is now in the weekend rotation.
Senior Kyle Kriech made his 2010 debut with a start against UNF on March 20 and has also taken up a spot in the weekend rotation.
Junior Sean Green has been slowed by a shoulder injury while sophomore Steve Eagerton is easing his way back into the bullpen after sitting out last season with Tommy John Surgery.
Hold on Loosen
Junior Matt Loosen has returned from injury and is showing people why he was a unanimous preseaon selection as he was among three Dolphins to be named to the 2010 A-Sun all-preseason team.
After missing the first week of the season with a knee injury, Loosen made his first appearance against Richmond on Feb. 28. He followed that up with his first start on March 3 at Bethune-Cookman - allowing two runs (one earned) on five hits with a walk and three strikeouts in five innings.
He looks to be in mid-season form after his performance against No. 2 Florida State on March 8. The Noles entered the contest scoring at least 10 runs in nine of its 10 games but Loosen allowed only one run on six hits while striking out a career-best 11 batters in seven innings.
Loosen increased his record to 3-1 on the year after allowing only one run on four hits with 10 strikeouts at USC Upstate on April 2.
Senior Chuck Opachich enters his final year in a Dolphin uniform and is primed to etch his name in the JU history book.
A major cog in the program’s most successful run in the last four years, Opachich has garnered several honors including A-Sun all-freshman (2007), A-Sun preseason all-conference (2008, 2010), A-Sun all-tournament (2007, 2009) and A-Sun first team all-conference (2009) accolades.
Last season, Opachich set a milestone by tying Talmadge Nunnari (1997) with a program record 27-game hitting streak. In the JU single-season record book, he also tied Nunnari (1997) with 90 hits.
After getting off to a hot start, he has been hampered by a hamstring injury which caused him to miss five games (3/10-17).
Currently seventh in the career book, he is currently 79 hits behind Ernie Carr (1985-88) for the program record. Opachich needs four to pass Rocky Rausch (1974-77) for fifth.