After defeating USF to start the week, the JU baseball team (20-10, 9-6) will return to Atlantic Sun Conference action against ETSU (14-15, 6-9), beginning on Thursday at 7 p.m. at Cardinal Field.
Friday’s game will also begin at 7 p.m. before the series finale on Saturday at 1 p.m.
JU leads ETSU in the all-time series, 5-4, but the Bucs swept the season series last season at John Sessions Stadium. In the last two seasons between the two programs, the road team swept the season series.
Against USF, JU improved to 14-5 at home, including seven straight..JU hit back-to-back homers for the first time since Daniel Murphy and Gordie Gronkowski accomplished the feat against ETSU on April 11, 2006...junior first baseman Alex Martinez went 3-for-5 with three RBI and hit a home run in his fourth straight game...sophomore Chris Kaminski notched his conference leading seventh save after striking out two batters in the ninth...senior right fielder Thomas Myers drove in three runs with a homer while sophomore left fielder Chris Connelly notched his second homer of the year...senior catcher Jeremy Gillan went 2-for-5 with a double...junior second baseman Chuck Opachich finished 2-for-6 with two doubles and two RBI to extend his career-high hitting streak to 21 games.
JU received votes in the National Collegiate Baseball Writers (NCBW) Top 30 Poll on March 30...the Dolphins are 80th in RPI rankings (.544), 93rd in IRS rankings (107.2) and 140th in strength of schedule, according to Boyds World...JU leads the Atlantic Sun Conference with an 20-10 (.667) overall record...the Dolphins are third in team batting average (.313) and fifth in team ERA (5.52) in the conference rankings.
Chuck is O-fensive
Junior Chuck Opachich has become a versatile 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 second on the squad with a .381 batting average and eight steals.
As the squad’s leadoff hitter, he is also tied for the team lead with 47 hits and two triples while ranking third with a .446 on-base percentage and 59 total bases.
Opachich is currently in the midst of a career-best 21 game hitting streak in which he is batting .417 (40-96) since March 7.
Hold on Loosen
Sophomore Matt Loosen had 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 a 44 strikeouts and 37.0 innings. In the A-Sun rankings, he is second with a 2.19 ERA and a .203 opposing batting average.
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 .452 batting average, 47 hits, 35 RBI, a .535 on-base percentage and a .692 slugging percentage.
Defensively, he has been just as stellar by not committing an error while gunning down 9-of-17 (.529) base runners on the year.
In his last 10 games, Gillan has been white hot by batting .475 (19-40) with five doubles, a triple, a home run, 16 RBI, a .725 slugging percentage and a .560 on-base percentage.
In the conference rankings, Gillan leads the A-Sun in batting average (.452) and on-base percentage (.535) and is fifth in slugging percentage (.692) and RBI (35).
“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 seven saves in seven opportunities while toping the bullpen with a 2.41 ERA. He has posted a 2-0 record and 18.2 innings of work in 16 appearances while helping the squad to an umblemished 17-0 record when leading after eight innings.
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 with 10 doubles, 32 runs and 21 walks while ranking second with six home runs, a .638 slugging percentag and a .485 on-base percentage.