THURSDAY, APRIL 02, 2009
Baseball travels to Belmont this weekend
Junior Alex Martinez
Junior Alex Martinez
After winning a season-high six consecutive games, the JU baseball team (18-8, 8-4) will return to Atllantic Sun Conference play with a three-game set at Belmont (15-12, 8-4), beginning on Friday at 5 p.m. ET at Shelby Park. The remainder of the series will start at 2 p.m ET on Saturday and Sunday. JU leads the all-time series against Belmont, 13-12, after the Dolphins swept the Bruins last season at John Sessions Stadium. All three games can be followed through GameTracker by logging onto JUDolphins.com.

Dolphin notables
Against FIU, the Dolphins won their season-high sixth consecutive game, 10 of their last 11 and 13 of their last 16...JU also increased its record to 3-6 when trailing after seven innings by rallying in the eighth for the third straight opportunity...senior Joey Wedner (4-0) got the win after getting an out in the eighth to 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...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...senior left fielder Kyle Fleming and freshman third baseman Derik Grimes each led the Dolphins with two RBI apiece.

More notables
JU is receiving votes in the National Collegiate Baseball Writers (NCBW) Top 30 Poll as of March 31...the Dolphins are 86th in IRS rankings (107.5), 87th in RPI rankings (.540) and 194th in strength of schedule, according to Boyds World...JU leads the Atlantic Sun Conference with an 18-8 (.692) overall record...the Dolphins lead the conference with a team ERA of 5.04.

Now that’s a positive rotation
After its series against Stetson on March 13-15, the Dolphin starting rotation did their part to help infuse the name “A-Run Conference” but things have turned around in recent weeks. Against Stetson, JU’s starting rotation went 1-2 with a 13.00 ERA while allowing 23 hits, 13 earned runs with seven walks and only four strikeouts in nine innings. Against FGCU, the staff bounced back by going 2-1 with a 3.46 ERA while allowing 22 hits, seven earned runs with four walks and 13 strikeouts in 18.2 innings. The staff followed up that effort in a sweep over USC Upstate by going 2-0 with a 2.84 ERA while allowing 20 hits, nine earned runs with two walks and 13 strikeouts in 19 innings.

Chuck is O-fensive
Junior Chuck Opachich has become a versative part of the Dolphin lineup with his ability to play second base and center field. What is also helping JU, offensively, is his bat and speed on the bases. Despite not starting in the first two games of the season, Opachich has sparked a JU resurgence over the month of March by ranking third on the squad with a .375 batting average and six steals. As the squad’s leadoff hitter, he is also tied for the team lead wtih 39 hits and two triples while ranking third with a .444 on-base percentage and 46 total bases. Opachich is currently in the midst of a career-best 17 game hitting streak in which he is battting .421 (32-76) since March 7.

“Wild Thing” is back
JU has been in desperate need of a closer since Hunter Davis tallied 11 in 2005 and now the Dolphins have found one in sophomore Chris Kaminski. The Richmond, Texas native joined the Dolphins after going 6-0 with a 3.86 ERA, four saves and 54 strikeouts as a freshman at Weatherford Junior College. Thus far for the JU green & gold, Kaminski has lived up to the hype by leading the A-Sun with six saves in six opportunites while toping the Dolphin staff with a 1.20 ERA. He has posted a 1-0 record and 15 innings of work in 13 appearances.

Mr. Consistency
Senior catcher Jeremy Gillan came out swinging last season after transferring from from Indian River CC and is picking up where he left off in 2009. Last season, he led the Dolphins in hits (83), doubles (10), home runs (9), RBI (60), total bases (120), slugging percentage (.545), sacrifice flies (6), multi-hit games (27), multi-RBI games (16) and fielding percentage (.987) en route to second team all-conference honors. A preseason all-conference selection this year, Gillan leads the squad with a .455 batting average, 35 hits, a .532 on-base percentage and 13 walks. He is second in runs (19), home runs (3), RBI (22) and slugging percentage (.688). Defensively, he has been just as stellar by not committing an error while gunning down 6-of-9 (.667) base runners on the year. In his last 10 games, Gillan has been white hot by leading the squad with a .462 batting average (18-39) with five doubles, a triple, a home run, 14 RBI, a .713 slugging percentage and a .521 on-base percentage. In the conference rankings, Gillan leads the A-Sun in on-base percentage (.523), is second in batting average (.443) and is fourth in slugging percentage (.693).

Rocky mountain high
Senior right fielder Thomas Myers is swinging a hot bat and it could prove to be trouble for opposing pitchers. Despite JU going 2-2 during the second-annual JU Invitational, the Lakewood, Colo. native led the squad by going 7-for-12 with three doubles, two home runs, five RBI, 16 total bases, a .667 on-base percentage and a 1.333 slugging percentage. In a 6-4 win over Akron, he finished 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI. In a doubleheader vs. #25 Michigan, Myers combined to go 3-for-5 with a home run and three RBI. In the finale against Wisconsin-Milwaukee, he did his part again by going 2-for-3 with a double and a home run. He followed that weekend by batting 6-for-10 (.600) with a double, a home run and four RBI while slugging 1.000 and finishing with a .583 on-base percentage in a 2-1 series win over cross-town rival UNF. Myers continued to produce big-time hits at the right time by going 2-for-4 with a home run while tying a career high with four RBI in a 7-2 win over conference leading FGCU in game two. Myers currently leads the squad in doubles (10), and home runs (5). His last 10 games have also been stellar by batting .405 (15-37) with four doubles, a triple, a home run, eight RBI, a .595 slugging percentage and a .522 on-base percentage.

Hold on Loosen
Sophomore Matt Loosen has been "Mr. Fix It" out of the bullpen through 17 games for JU in 2009. In six appearances out of the pen, Loosen tallied two saves while posting a 2.35 ERA, a staff-high 22 strikeouts and a bullpen-best 15.1 innings of work. Among his most influential outings was striking out four in the final two innings in a win over No. 6 Florida State. Loosen also helped turn the tide in the SunTrust River City Rumble series by tallying the save in a 4-3 win over UNF in game two. Due to injuries, Loosen was pressed into service in the starting rotation and now he might not be leaving for a while. In his first start in 2009, Loosen did not allow a run through seven innings and left the contest with runners on first and second with one out in the bottom of the eighth inning. Although the bullpen allowed two runs to score, Loosen dominated first-place FGCU by scattering five hits with a career-high seven strikeouts in a career-best 7.1 innings as JU took game one by a score of 3-2. He currently leads the staff with 36 strikeouts and 29.2 innings.