TUESDAY, MARCH 24, 2009
Baseball uses seven-run first inning to cruise to 14-9 win over UCF
Junior Chuck Opachich
Junior Chuck Opachich
The Dolphins sent 12 batters to the plate in the first innings and never looked back as the JU baseball team defeated UCF, 14-9, Tuesday evening in non-conference action at Jay Bergman Field.

JU (13-8) tallied 15 hits while scoring seven runs in the first, two in the fourth and four in the sixth. The Dolphins earned their first win at Jay Bergman Field since a 10-9 decision on March 28, 2005.

UCF (7-16) cut the margin to 7-3 in the second but left a game-high 12 runners on base.

“We had a tremendous first inning and it was the kind of start that we have needed,” said JU head coach Terry Alexander. “With us playing two mid-week games this week, getting that big lead really took a lot of pressure off of our pitching staff. Now we have to try and get some rest and be ready to go to work tomorrow.”

Senior Billy Schlee (1-2) got the win after allowing three runs on five hits with a walk and two strikeouts in 4.1 innings. Sophomore Sean Green got the no-decision after allowing four runs on 10 hits with five strikeouts in 3.2 innings.

Brennan Dobbins (0-1), younger brother of former Dolphin Matt Dobbins (2005-08), was tagged with the loss after allowing seven runs on eight hits with a walk in 0.1 innings.

Senior right fielder Thomas Myers went 3-for-5 with a double while sophomore second baseman Jamaal Hawkins went 3-for-5 with two RBI. Senior catcher Jeremy Gillan also went 3-for-6 with a triple and two RBI. Junior center fielder Chuck Opachich went 2-for-4 with a triple and three RBI to extend his team-leading hitting streak to 12 games.

Shane Brown led the Knights by going 4-for-6 with a double, a home run and three RBI.

The Dolphins jumped out to a 7-0 lead in the first by tallying eight hits while sending 12 batters to the plate.

Opachich led things off with a single up the middle and then advanced to second on a ground out to second by senior left fielder Kyle Fleming. Gillan followed with a single through the right side to score Opachich. Myers pulled a ball through the left side before Martinez cleared the bases with a drive over the right-field wall for his third homer of the season.

Senior designated hitter Dan Maier continued things by reaching on an infield single to second and then advancing to third on a bloop single down the right-field line by Hawkins. In the next at-bat, freshman third baseman K.C. Clabough beat out a single to third for his first collegiate hit and RBI before freshman shortstop Jimmy Howick cleared the bases with a double into the right-field corner.

The Knights cut the margin to 7-3 in the second when Jake Huxtable hit an RBI double and Brown pulled a two-run single through the left side. UCF still had runners on first and second with two outs but Green got Brandon Romans to fly out to deep left to end the inning.

UCF threatened with runners on first and second with no outs in the third but Green struck out Huxtable, Chris Duffty and Eric Kallstrom, each swinging, to end the inning.

JU increased the lead to 9-3 in the fourth when Hawkins hit a two-run single. Gillan led off the inning with a single to center and then advanced to second on a swinging, bunt-single to third by Myers. After both runners advanced on a wild pitch by Knight reliever Evan Stobbs, freshman first baseman Kevin Lehane drew a walk to load the bases. With one out, Hawkins pulled a ball through the left side to drive in two runs.

The Knights cut the margin to 9-4 in the bottom of the fourth when Kiko Vazquez hit an RBI single off the glove of Clabough at third. UCF still threatened with the bases loaded with two outs but Schlee entered the game and got Huxtable to hit a fielder’s choice to short to end the inning.

The Dolphins made it 13-4 in the sixth when a run scored on a fielding error by Huxtable at third and Opachich hit a three-run triple. Myers led off the inning with a double to right center and Lehane was hit by a pitch. With one out, Hawkins dropped in a single to right to load the bases. With two outs, Howick hit a grounder off the chest of Huxtable to allow Myers to score. In the next at-bat, Opachich laced a shot down the right-field line to clear the bases with his second triple of the year.

The Knights cut it to 13-5 in the bottom of the sixth when Vazquez hit an RBI double to left center. UCF added another run in the seventh when Huxtable hit a solo homer to left field and a run in the eighth when Brown hit a solo shot to left center.

JU made it 14-7 in the ninth when Gillan hit an RBI triple to right field. With two outs, sophomore pinch-hitter Glen Johnson was hit by a pitch before Gillan hit a liner into right field. Brown ran hard to catch it on one bounce but the spin of the ball made it jump past him to the left and ran to the wall.

UCF would add two more runs in the ninth to end the scoring.

JU and UCF will conclude its home-and-home series on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. at John Sessions Stadium. The contest will be broadcast live on 1010XL with Barry Milligan calling all of the action. The game can also be seen live on ASun.TV by logging onto JUDolphins.com.