TUESDAY, APRIL 14, 2009
Baseball travels to Georgia Southern on Wednesday
Senior Thomas Myers
Senior Thomas Myers
After running its winning streak to four games, the JU baseball team (23-10) will return to its non-conference schedule by completing its season series against Georgia Southern (24-9) on Wednesday at 6 p.m. in Statesboro, Ga. JU trails GSU in the all-time series, 63-57, but the Dolphins have won the last two matchups. In the last six meetings between the two programs, the home team has won every contest. The contest is available through video streaming with a fee or can be heard live on the Eagle Radio Network by logging onto JUDolphins.com.

Dolphin notables
Against ETSU, JU increased its winning streak to four games while notching its second A-Sun sweep (USC Upstate) of the season...junior second baseman Chuck Opachich batted .565 (10-18) while extending his career-best hitting streak to 24 games..game one: senior designated hitter Brad Simmons went 3-for-5 with a grand slam and six RBI...sophomore Matt Loosen (2-0) got the win after allowing four runs on three hits while walking three and striking out a career-best 10 in 6.1 innings...senior left fielder Kyle Fleming and freshman center fielder Jonathan Murphy each finished with multiple hits and two RBI...Opachich went 2-for-4 with two doubles...game two: sophomore Chris Kaminski (3-0) got the win after hurling 2.1 innings of scoreless relief...junior Kyle Kriech allowed only one run on three hits while walking three and five strikeouts in 3.1 innings of relief...sophomore shortstop Jamaal Hawkins led the squad by going 4-for-6 with a double and two RBI...sophomore left fielder Chris Connelly went 2-for-5 with two home runs and four RBI...sophomore third baseman Glen Johnson also finished with multiple hits for JU...Opachich went 4-for-4...game three: sophomore Sean Green (1-0) earned his first win in three starts after not allowing a run while scattering two hits, walking three and striking out five in six innings...junior Carson Andrew pitched 2.1 effective innings and sophomore Matt Tomshaw notched his first save by getting the final two outs...Opachich led the Dolphin offense by going 2-for-4 with an RBI...Hawkins had an RBI double.

More notables
JU received votes in the National Collegiate Baseball Writers (NCBW) Top 30 Poll on March 30...the Dolphins are 64th in RPI rankings (.553), 67th in IRS rankings (109.9) and 143rd in strength of schedule, according to Boyds World...JU leads the Atlantic Sun Conference with an 23-10 (.669) overall record...the Dolphins are second in team batting average (.314) and fourth in team ERA (5.60) in the conference rankings.

Opachich named “Player of the Week”
Junior second baseman Chuck Opachich was named Atlantic Sun Conference “Player of the Week” after leading the Dolphins to a 4-0 week. The lead-off hitter and catalyst for the JU offense, Opachich led the Dolphins to a mid-week win over USF and a three-game sweep over ETSU in Johnson City, Tenn. Joining junior pitcher Carson Andrew (March 1) as the second JU honoree this season, Opachich becomes the first Dolphin hitter to receive the honor since Matt Lopez on March 3, 2008. Opachich finished the week by batting a team-best .565 (10-18) with seven runs, four doubles, five RBI, 14 total bases, a .778 slugging percentage and a .600 on-base percentage. In a 12-10 win over USF, Opachich went 2-for-6 with a career-best two doubles and two RBI. In a 17-10 win over ETSU in game one, he went 2-for-4 with two doubles and two RBI. In a 12-10 rally win over ETSU in game two, Opachich was white hot by finishing 4-for-4 from the plate with a sacrifice bunt. He kept things going by finishing 2-for-4 with an RBI in the 4-3 series finale win over the Bucs.

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 .404 batting average. He also leads the squad with 55 hits, 35 runs, two triples and nine stolen bases while ranking with a .471 on-base percentage and third with seven doubles and 69 total bases. In the conference rankings, he leads the A-Sun in average with runners on base (.492), is second in percentage advancing runners (.671), is tied for second in hits (55), third in batting average with two outs (.442), fifth in batting average (.404) and on-base percentage (.471). Opachich is currently in the midst of a career-best 24 game hitting streak in which he is batting .444 (48-108) 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 54 strikeouts, 43.1 innings and a .192 opponent batting average. In the A-Sun rankings, he is second with only 30 hits allowed, third with a .192 opposing batting average, fourth with a 2.70 ERA and only 13 runs allowed and fifth with 54 strikeouts.

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 .422 batting average, 36 RBI, 78 total bases, a .514 on-base percentage and a .672 slugging percentage. Defensively, he has been just as stellar by not committing an error while gunning down 9-of-19 (.473) base runners on the year. In the conference rankings, Gillan ranks second in batting average against right-handed pitching (.430), third in batting average (.422) and on-base percentage (.514) and fourth in batting average with runners on base (.462) and walks (23).

“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 2.14 ERA. He has posted a 3-0 record and 20.3 innings of work in 17 appearances while helping the squad to an unblemished 19-0 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 and seven home runs while ranking second with a .615 slugging percentage, 33 runs and 21 walks and third with a .459 on-base percentage and 32 RBI.

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. In a sweep over ETSU, the staff went 2-0 with a 3.86 ERA while allowing 10 hits, six earned runs with six walks and 16 strikeouts in 14 innings.