After a one-year hiatus from the postseason, the JU baseball team (34-20) will enter enter the 2009 A-Sun Championship (presented by Progress Energy) in DeLand, Fla. as the No. 1 seed and open play against No. 6 ETSU (24-27) on Wednesday at 11 a.m.
In game two, No. 2 Lipscomb will host No. 5 Mercer at 3 p.m. before No. 3 Stetson ends the first day against No. 4 Belmont at 7 p.m.
JU leads ETSU in the all-time series, 8-4, including a series sweep over the Bucs on April 9-11 at Cardinal Park.
Every game in the tournament can been seen on ASun.TV and heard live on 1010XL with Barry Milligan calling all of the action through JUDolphins.com.
JU in the A-Sun Tournament
For the eighth time in 11 seasons, JU has earned a bid to the A-Sun postseason tournament under head coach Terry Alexander.
The Dolphins clinched the No. 1 seed in the tournament for the first time since 2006. That season, JU was eliminated on the second day by Mercer.
The last time JU won the A-Sun Tournament was in 2007 as the No. 4 seed. The Dolphins also won the conference tourney in 2003 at the No. 6 seed.
JU record chase
Team: HR: tied for sixth (57) and needs 10 more to move into fifth...2B: ninth (117) and needs only four more to move into fifth...SLG: ninth (.465)..Saves: (12) needs one to move into 10th spot and two more to jump eighth...K’s: (398) needs two more to move into 10th.
Individual (single-season): Jeremy Gillan: 10th in slugging percentage (.680) and looking to be first Dolphin to finish at .700 since Chad Hauseman (.717 - 2003)...tied for 10th in batting average (.397) and is looking to be first Dolphin to finish at .400 since Hauseman (.401 - 2003)...needs 10 hits to move into 10th...needs three doubles to tie for ninth and four to move into fifth...needs three home runs to tie for ninth and four to move into eighth...needs nine RBI to tie for 10th and 10 to tie for ninth...needs 10 more total bases to tie for 10th and 11 to tie for ninth...Chuck Opachich: needs two hits to move into 10th and three to tied for ninth...Thomas Myers: needs three home runs to tied for ninth and four to move into eighth...Chris Kaminski: tied for fourth in saves (8) and needs three more to tie for second...Matt Loosen: needs eight strikeouts to tie for 10th and nine to tie for ninth.
Dallas Baptist: game three - Junior Carson Andrew (6-3) notched his team leading sixth win after allowing one run on four hits with six strikeouts in four innings of a pre-determined start...junior Glenn Witkowski and sophomore Chris Kaminski combined for three innings of scoreless relief...senior right fielder Thomas Myers led the squad by going 2-for-4 with a home run and three RBI...sophomore catcher Alex Swenson went 2-for-5 with two RBI while senior designated hitter Dan Maier, freshman center fielder Joey Belviso and freshman second baseman K.C. Clabough each finished with multiple hits.
JU received votes in the National Collegiate Baseball Writers (NCBW) Top 30 Poll on March 30...the Dolphins are 53rd in RPI rankings (.554), 77th in IRS rankings (109) and 110th in strength of schedule, according to Boyds World...in the A-Sun rankings, the Dolphins are third in team ERA (5.24) and are sixth in team batting average (.304) in the conference rankings...ETSU is third in team batting (.316) and 11th in team ERA (8.46)...senior Jeremy Gillan is ranked second amongst collegiate catchers by Rivals.com’s College Power Rankings...JU has three players with at least 10 home runs (Jeremy Gillan, Thomas Myers, Alex Martinez) for only the second time in program history. The record of six was set by the 1983 squad.
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 .397 batting average, 18 doubles, 11 home runs, 132 total bases, a .487 on-base percentage and a .680 slugging percentage.
He also produced a career-high 18-game hitting streak (4/15-5/12) in which he batted .394 (28-71) with eight doubles, six home runs, 19 RBI, 54 total bases, a .761 slugging percentage and a .482 on-base percentage.
Defensively, he has been just as stellar by not committing an error while gunning down 14-of-33 (.424) base runners on the year.
In the conference rankings, Gillan leads A-Sun in intentional walks (9) and fielding (1.000), is second in average w/runners on base (.442), third in on-base percentage (.487), average with RBI opportunity (.446) and average vs. LHP (.435), fourth in batting average (.397), fifth in slugging percentage (.680).
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 sparked a JU resurgence over the month of March and April by ranking second on the squad with a .382 batting average.
He also leads the squad with 84 hits, 49 runs, three triples and 18 stolen bases.
In the conference rankings, he is second in average with two outs (.475) and fifth in hits (84), triples (3) and stolen bases (18).
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 80 strikeouts, 71.1 innings and a .235 opponent batting average.
In the A-Sun rankings, he is second in hits allowed (63), third in runs allowed (36), fourth in average vs. leadoff (.288), fifth in opponent average (.235) and average vs. righties (.220).
“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 eight saves in nine opportunities while toping the bullpen with 23 appearances, a 2.48 ERA, four wins and 29 innings while helping the squad to a 26-1 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.
After a cold spell, Myers broke out against Mercer by batting .444 (4-9) with three home runs, seven RBI, 13 total bases, a 1.444 slugging percentage and a .615 on-base percentage. In the series finale, he became the first Dolphin to hit two homers in an inning since Phil Sottile vs. Akron on March 27, 1984 to finish 3-for-3 with two home runs and four RBI.
Myers leads the squad with 11 home runs and 37 walks and is second with 43 runs, 16 doubles, a .615 slugging percentage and a .454 on-base percentage.