After winning at No. 6 Florida State and taking a 13-day hiatus, the JU baseball team (18-17) will return to action this week with a two-game homestand against FIU (26-13) at John Sessions Stadium.
The non-conference matchup will begin on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. before concluding on Wednesday at 3 p.m.
JU leads FIU in the all-time series, 20-17, but dropped a two-game set in Miami on March 23-24. In fact, the Golden Panthers have won five of the last six meetings between the two schools.
The games can be followed through A-Sun.TV and live stats by logging onto JUDolphins.com.
After their 10-8 win at No. 6 FSU on April 14, the Dolphins tallied their second highest run tally in program history (12 - 1973) and have now won at Dick Howser Stadium in two of its last three opportunities...the Dolphins are 13-0 on the year when scoring 10 or more runs...JU has had a pair of four-game winning streaks on the year....the Dolphins are 3-11 on the year when not hitting a home runs as opposed to an 15-6 record with a home run...the Dolphins are 4-6 in their last 10 games against ranked opponents - including a 2-2 mark in 2010.
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 36 RBI, 34 runs, a .494 on-base percentage and 33 walks. He also ranks second with a .355 batting average and seven home runs.
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.672 slugging percentage while ranking third with 34 RBI and fifth with a .319 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.
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 .393 (24-61) with six doubles, a triple, three home runs, 16 RBI and a .672 slugging percentage. Included in that span, he is batting 7-for-12 (.583) in his last two games.
During that period, he has raised his batting average more than 180 points to .283.
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 .402 (37-92) with 11 doubles, six home runs, 28 RBI, 66 total bases and a .717 slugging percentage.
He did not play in the contest at Florida on April 6 due to back spasms in pre-game batting practice.
”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.
Due to injuries and inconsistency of the starting rotation, Kaminski earned his second start of the year at No. 6 Florida State on April 15. Although he earned a no-decision, he allowed only two runs on two hits while striking out five in six innings.
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 fifth in the career book, he is currently 72 hits behind Ernie Carr (1985-88) for the program record. He is 25 hits shy of surpassing Chris Hayes (1992-95) for fourth on the all-time list.