After a one-year hiatus from the postseason, the JU baseball team (36-20) will compete in its 13th NCAA Regional this weekend at McKethan Stadium in Gainesville, Fla.
The Dolphins, who own the No. 3 seed, open the weekend against No. 2 seed Miami (36-20) on Friday at 1 p.m. No. 1 Florida (39-20) will host No. 4 Bethune-Cookman (32-26) at 6:30 p.m. on Friday.
Every game in the tournament can been heard live on 1010XL with Barry Milligan calling all of the action and viewed on GameTracker by logging on through JUDolphins.com.
JU in the NCAA’s
* The Dolphins are making their 13th appearance in the NCAA Regionals, including their ninth under head coach Terry Alexander.
* The Dolphins have reached the NCAA Regionals in three of the past four years (2006, 2007, 2009).
* In 13 regional bids, the Dolphins will be playing at their eighth regional site and their second in Gainesville (1991). JU has competed in Tallahassee, Fla. for five of its appearances (1976, 1994, 1999, 2001, 2003). The program has also made stops in Fort Eustis, Va. (1968), Gastonia, N.C. (1972), Starkville, Miss. (1989), Clemson, S.C. (1995), Athens, Ga. (2006) and Chapel Hill, N.C. (2007).
* The Dolphins have four players remaining from their last regional in 2007: senior pitchers Garrett Dunlap and Joey Wedner, senior catcher Brad Simmons and junior second baseman Chuck Opachich.
* JU sports an 9-24 record all time in postseason play.
* JU has come within one game of advancing out of the Regionals twice. In 1976, JU eliminated Florida State before falling in the championship game to Auburn. The Dolphins next shot was in 1994, advancing to the finals before falling to Florida State.
JU record chase
Team: HR: tied for sixth (59) and needs eight more to move into fifth...K’s: seventh (416) needs five more to move into sixth...2B: ninth (119) and needs only two more to move into fifth...SLG: ninth (.462)..Saves: (12) needs one to move into 10th spot and two more to jump eighth.
Individual (single-season): Jeremy Gillan: 11th in slugging percentage (.673) and looking to be first Dolphin to finish at .700 since Chad Hauseman (.717 - 2003)...tied for 11th in batting average (.397) and is looking to be first Dolphin to finish at .400 since Hauseman (.401-2003)...needs seven hits to move into 10th...needs two doubles to tie for ninth and three to move into fifth...needs three home runs to tie for ninth and four to move into eighth...needs six RBI to tie for 10th and seven to tie for ninth...needs six more total bases to tie for 10th and seven to tie for ninth...Chuck Opachich: tied for eight in hits (87) and needs one to tied for sixth, two to tie for fifth, three to tie for fourth and four to tie for third...Thomas Myers: needs two home runs to tied for ninth and three to move into eighth...Chris Kaminski: tied for fourth in saves (8) and needs three more to tie for second...Matt Loosen: needs six strikeouts to tie for 10th and seven to tie for ninth.
Gillan named academic all-americanM
After earning several accolades for his play on the field, senior catcher Jeremy Gillan is garnering awards for his work in the classroom, earning first team ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America honors.
The Port St. Lucie, Fla. native posted a 3.74 GPA as an exercise science major. He also garnered Atlantic Sun Conference all-academic honors and was named to the Dean’s List last season.
A preseason all-conference selection this season, Gillan also earned first team all-conference honors and was named to the all-tournament team.
Gillan is also ranked as the second best catcher in the in nation by the Rivals.com Baseball Power Rankings.
Six Dolphins named All-Tourney
With the title in hand, six Dolphins were selected to the 2009 Atlantic Sun Conference Championship All-Tournament Team.
Junior first baseman Alex Martinez, who was also named tournament MVP, batted .286 (2-7) with a home run and two RBI but his two-run homer in the ninth inning of the championship game broke a 4-4 tie and gave JU the win.
Senior right fielder Thomas Myers batted .286 (2-7) with three runs, a home run and two RBI but his homer tied things up in the championship game.
Senior left fielder Kyle Fleming batted .333 (3-9) with a double and an RBI while also making a huge defensive play in the championship game.
Senior catcher Jeremy Gillan batted .375 (3-8) with a double and a tournament-high four RBI.
Junior second baseman Chuck Opachich batted a team-high .429 (3-7) with two runs and three RBI while also making several defensive plays.
Senior reliever Billy Schlee was the most dominant pitcher in the tournament after earning the win in the semifinals with a career-best seven innings.
A-Sun Tournament: vs. Belmont - Senior Billy Schlee (4-2) got the win after allowing one run (none earned) while scattering three hits with a walk and four strikeouts in a career-high seven relief innings...senior catcher Jeremy Gillan went 3-for-4 with a double and three RBI...junior second baseman Chuck Opachich went 2-for-4 with an RBI while senior left fielder Kyle Fleming finished 2-for-3 with a double and an RBI...vs. Lipscomb - Sophomore Matt Loosen (4-1) got the win after hurling 2.1 innings of scoreless relief...senior right fielder Thomas Myers finished 2-for-4 with a home run and an RBI while junior first baseman Alex Martinez finished 2-for-3 with a home run and two RBI.
JU received votes in the National Collegiate Baseball Writers (NCBW) Top 30 Poll on March 30 and May 25...the Dolphins are 50th in RPI rankings (.553), 71st in IRS rankings (109.3) and 113th in strength of schedule, according to Boyds World...in the A-Sun rankings, the Dolphins are third in team ERA (5.18) and are seventh in team batting average (.302) in the conference rankings...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...JU is only the second team in Division I (Utah) to win a conference championship in football, men’s basketball and baseball this season.
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 .396 batting average, 19 doubles, 136 total bases, a .484 on-base percentage and a .673 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-34 (.412) base runners on the year.
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 87 hits, 51 runs, three triples and 19 stolen bases.
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.
In the JU single-season record book, he is tied for eight in hits (87) and is 10 shy of the program record of 97 which was set by Tom Meucci in 1985.
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 82 strikeouts, 73.2 innings and a .236 opponent batting average.
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 12 home runs and 39 walks and is second with 46 runs, 16 doubles and a .618 slugging percentage.
“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 24 appearances, a 2.90 ERA, four wins and 31 innings while helping the squad to a 27-1 record when leading after eight innings.