THURSDAY, APRIL 23, 2009
Baseball hosts Lipscomb this weekend
Senior Jeremy Gillan
Senior Jeremy Gillan
After winning its fifth conference series of the year, the JU baseball team (25-12, 14-7) will continue its conference home schedule against Lipscomb (16-24, 10-8), beginning on Friday at 6:30 p.m. at John Sessions Stadium. The series will continue on Saturday at noon before concluding on Sunday at 1 p.m. JU leads LU in the all-time series, 12-3, but the Bisons won last year’s season series in Nashville (2-1). All three games can been seen live through ASun.TV by logging onto JUDolphins.com. The final two games of the series will be broadcast live on 1010XL with Barry Milligan calling all of the action.

Dolphin notables
Against CU, JU won its fifth conference series of the year...junior second baseman Chuck Opachich tied the program record by tallying a hit in 27 straight games (3/7-4/18)...game one: JU had its seven-game home winning streak snapped...the Dolphins fell to 19-1 on the year when holding a lead into the ninth...sophomore Chris Kaminski (3-1) was tagged with the loss after allowing two runs on two hits with a strikeout in one inning of relief...sophomore Matt Loosen earned the no-decision despite allowing only one run on six hits with two walks and a career-high tying 10 strikeouts in a career-best eight innings of work...Opachich led the Dolphin offense and extended his career-best hitting streak to 26 games by finishing 3-for-5 with a double...sophomore shortstop Jamaal Hawkins went 2-for-5 with an RBI...game two: JU won its first contest when trailing after the eighth inning (1-9) by tallying seven consecutive hits with two outs...junior Carson Andrew (3-3) got the win after allowing two runs (one earned) on four hits with a walk and six strikeouts in four innings of relief...sophomore Matt Tomshaw got the no-decision after allowing four runs on eight hits with a walk and three strikeouts in five innings...senior right fielder Thomas Myers went 2-for-3 with a double while Hawkins finished 2-for-5 with two RBI to lead the Dolphins...game three: sophomore Sean Green (2-0) got the win after allowing four runs on 10 hits with a walk and three strikeouts in six innings...senior Joey Wedner and junior Kyle Kriech combined for three innings of solid relief...freshman center fielder Jonathan Murphy led the Dolphin offense by going 3-for-3 with an RBI while freshman designated hitter Kevin Lehane went 3-for-5 with a double and an RBI...Hawkins finished 2-for-3 with a double and two RBI while senior catcher Jeremy Gillan and junior first baseman Alex Martinez each finished with multiple hits.

More notables
JU received votes in the National Collegiate Baseball Writers (NCBW) Top 30 Poll on March 30...the Dolphins are 66th in RPI rankings (.552), 75th in IRS rankings (109.4) and 139th in strength of schedule, according to Boyds World...JU leads the Atlantic Sun Conference with an 25-12 (.676) overall record...the Dolphins are second in team batting average (.312) and third in team ERA (5.41) in the conference rankings...Lipscomb is last in the conference in team batting average (.260) and are sixth in team ERA (6.17)...senior Jeremy Gillan is ranked sixth amongst collegiate catcher by Rivals.com.

Chuck-O milestone
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 .390 batting average. He also leads the squad with 60 hits, 37 runs, two triples and 10 stolen bases while ranking second with a .453 on-base percentage and third with eight doubles and 75 total bases. In the conference rankings, he is fourth in batting average (.390). Opachich also set a milestone by tying Talmadge Nunnari (1997) with a program record 27-game hitting streak. During the streak from March 7-April 18, Opachich batted .434 (53-122) while the Dolphins went 20-7.

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 earned his second win by striking out a career-best 10 batters through seven innings in a win at ETSU. Loosen hasn’t been fortunate enough to have any run support as he has suffered through three no-decisions. Among those starts was a career-best eight inning effort in which he held the top offense in the conference (Campbell) to only one run while tying a career-best with 10 strikeouts. He currently leads the staff with a 64 strikeouts, 51.1 innings and a .197 opponent batting average. In the A-Sun rankings, he leads the conference with only 17 runs allowed, is second with a 2.45 ERA and a .197 opposing batting average, third with only 36 hits allowed and fifth with 64 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 .412 batting average, 13 doubles, 86 total bases, a .509 on-base percentage and a .656 slugging percentage. Defensively, he has been just as stellar by not committing an error while gunning down 11-of-23 (.473) base runners on the year. In the conference rankings, Gillan leads the conference in on-base percentage (.509), is second in batting average (.412) and fifth in doubles (13).

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. Against the conference’s top offense (Campbell), the unit went 1-0 with a 4.26 ERA while allowing 24 hits, nine earned runs with four walks and 16 strikeouts in 19 innings. The staff held the Camels to under 10 runs in three consecutive conference games for the first time this season.