TUESDAY, MARCH 31, 2009
Baseball rallies in the eighth for 9-7 win over FIU in rain shortened game
Senior Kyle Fleming
Senior Kyle Fleming

Mother Nature held out long enough to allow the Dolphins to rally for four runs in the bottom of the eighth inning and give the JU baseball team a 9-7 win over FIU, Tuesday evening at John Sessions Stadium.

The contest was ended with runners on first and second and two outs in the bottom of the eighth when lightning strikes and rain made game conditions unsafe. Due to the game being non-conference contest with no governing rules, the contest is official after five innings and ended with the home team holding the lead in the bottom of an inning.

JU (18-8) has now won 13 of its last 16 games, including 10 of its last 11, while running its season-high winning streak to six games. The Dolphins also ran their record to 3-6 when trailing after seven innings after rallying in the eighth inning for the third straight time.

FIU (17-7) took a 7-5 lead in the top of the eighth but a two-run fielding error by first baseman Tim Jobe, with the bases loaded, tied the game in the bottom of the eighth.

The game-winning run scored on a wild pitch by Jorge Marban before senior left fielder Kyle Fleming’s RBI bunt ground out made it 9-7 before the game was called.

“We’ll take a win any way we can get it and luckily the weather held long enough for us to rally again,” said JU head coach Terry Alexander. “I’m a little concerned about our defense right now but there is something to be said about a team that wins ugly.”

Senior Joey Wedner (4-0) got the win after hurling 0.1 innings of relief to end the eighth and become the pitcher of record. Junior Kyle Kriech added two innings of scoreless relief to keep the game close. Sophomore Sean Green go the no-decision after allowing five runs (none earned) on three hits while walking three and striking out five in five innings.

Marban (1-1) was tagged with the loss after allowing four runs (three earned) on two hits while walking three in 0.2 innings. Daniel DeSimone also got the no-decision after allowing five runs on eight hits with seven strikeouts in six innings.

Junior second baseman Chuck Opachich led the Dolphin offense by going 3-for-4 with an RBI to run his career-best hitting streak to 17 games. Sophomore shortstop Jamaal Hawkins also went 2-for-3 with two doubles and three runs. Fleming and freshman third baseman Derik Grimes each led the Dolphins with two RBI apiece.

Jobe led the Panthers by going 2-for-4 with a double and two RBI while Tyler Townsend went 2-for-4 with a double.

FIU took a 5-0 lead in the third when the Panthers took advantage of two fielding errors, three walks, a hit batter and a two-run double by Jobe.

The Dolphins cut the deficit to 5-3 in the bottom of the third when Fleming hit an RBI single, senior catcher Jeremy Gillan hit a sacrifice fly and junior first baseman Alex Martinez hit an RBI double.

Grimes led off the inning with a high chop single to third and then moved to second on a single to left by Opachich. Fleming followed with a single up the middle to drive in Grimes and send Opachich to third. In the next at-bat, Gillan hit a high fly to right to plate another run. After a single to left by senior right fielder Thomas Myers, Martinez pulled a ball into the left center gap to score Fleming.

JU made it 5-4 in the fourth when Opachich hit an RBI single with two outs. Hawkins led off the inning with a double down the third-base line and then advanced to third on a grounder to second by Grimes. With two outs, Opachich hit a ball back up the middle to plate Hawkins.

The Dolphins evened the contest, 5-5, in the sixth when Grimes hit a sacrifice fly to right. With one out, Hawkins laced a double down the right-field line and then moved to third on a wild pitch by DeSimone. In the next at-bat, Grimes hit a deep fly to right to plate Hawkins.

The Panthers threatened with a runner on second and one out but Kriech got Steven Stropp to foul out to left and Jobe to ground out to short to end the inning.

FIU made it 7-5 in the eighth when Mike Martinez scored from third on wild pitch and Junior Arrojo drove in a run with a bunt grounder to third.

Pending weather, JU and FIU will complete its season series at John Sessions Stadium on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. The game can be seen live through LiveStats by logging on to JUDophins.com.