SUNDAY, MARCH 22, 2009
Baseball rally falls short in 5-4 loss to Florida Gulf Coast
Junior Chuck Opachich
Junior Chuck Opachich
Trailing the entire contest, the Dolphins pulled to within one run in the seventh but came up short in their rally as the JU baseball team fell to Florida Gulf Coast, 5-4, Sunday afternoon in Atlantic Sun Conference action at Swanson Stadium.

JU (12-8, 5-4) had its four-game winning streak snapped after leaving a game-high 11 runners on base while striking out 14 times and drawing only one walk.

FGCU (13-8, 7-2) salvaged the series by scoring two runs in the second and once in the third before adding two insurance runs in the fifth.

“It was a good weekend for us but we came up just short in making it a great weekend,” said JU head coach Terry Alexander. “We knew it was going to be a difficult task to sweep FGCU but we had a lot of opportunities. We did a good job of getting back in the game but we didn’t get that last big hit.”

Junior Glenn Witkowski (2-1) was tagged with the loss after allowing five runs on nine hits with a walk and five strikeouts in five innings. Junior Kyle Kriech added three perfect relief innings to keep the Dolphins in the contest.

Richie Erath (3-1) earned the win after allowing two runs (one earned) on seven hits while striking out eight batters. Derek Shaw earned his third save of the year after hurling 2.2 scoreless innings.

Senior catcher Jeremy Gillan led the Dolphin offense by going 2-for-4 with two RBI. Senior right fielder Thomas Myers, senior designated hitter Brad Simmons and sophomore shortstop Jamaal Hawkins each finished with multiple hits. Junior center fielder Chuck Opachich also finished with two hits to extend his season-high hitting streak to 11 games.

Zach Maxfield led the Eagles by going 2-for-4 with a home run and two RBI. Josh Upchurch, Steven Wickens, Tim Roberson and Robert Greene also finished with multiple hits.

The Eagles took a 2-0 lead in the second when Maxfield hit a two-run homer to left field. FGCU still had a runner on second with only one out but Witkowski got Josh Chester to strike out swinging and Bobbie Barrie to fly out to left to end the inning.

FGCU made it 3-0 in the third when Mikel Alvarez hit a sacrifice fly to center. The Eagles still had a runner on second with two outs but Witkowski got Brad Roberts to foul out to third where sophomore Glen Johnson made an over the should catch to end the inning.

The Dolphins cut the deficit to 3-1 in the fifth when junior first baseman Alex Martinez hit an RBI double. Simmons led off the inning with a single to right before Martinez cleared the bases with a drive into left center.

FGCU pushed the lead to 5-1 in the bottom of the fifth when Upchurch hit an RBI single and Roberson hit a solo home run down the left-field line.

JU made it 5-2 in the sixth when Myers hit an RBI single. Senior left fielder Kyle Fleming reached on an error by Wickens at short and then advanced to second on a single to center by Gillan. Myers followed with a single through the left side to score Fleming.

The Dolphins cut the deficit to 5-4 in the seventh when Gillan hit a two-run single. With one out, Opachich pulled a ball through the left side. After Fleming drew a walk, both runners pulled off a double steal before Gillan laced a single into right center to clear the bases.

JU will next begin a home-and-home series with UCF beginning at Jay Bergman Field on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. The contest can be seen on tape delay on the Brighthouse Sports Network beginning at 8 p.m. with Tom Morgan calling all the action and Dennis Rasmussen providing play-by-play. The game can also be followed live on UCF Radio Network or through GameTracker.