SATURDAY, MAY 31, 2003
Baseball's Season Ends With 8-5 Loss to Rutgers in NCAA Regional
May 31, 2003
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - After JU took a 5-4 lead in the bottom of the sixth, Rutgers answered with a four-run rally in the top of the seventh to claim an 8-5 victory and eliminate the Dolphins from the NCAA Regional Saturday morning at Dick Howser Stadium. Sophomore catcher Jon Galui (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.) led the Dolphins offensively by going 3-for-4 with a double and two RBI, while senior designated hitter Chad Hauseman (Pottstown, Pa.) went 1-for-2 with an RBI and walked three times to end his season with a .401 batting average, becoming only the sixth player in JU history to hit .400 or better.
Rightfielder Jeff Frazier and third baseman Vinny Esposito had three RBI each for Rutgers (37-21).
Rutgers jumped on the board early against JU sophomore starter Dennis Robinson (Putnam Valley, N.Y.). Second baseman Graig Badger led off the game with a walk and went to second on a sacrifice bunt by designated hitter Matt Wolski. Frazier laced an RBI double to right-center, and Esposito followed with an RBI single up the middle. Catcher Alberto Vasquez capped the rally by smashing a two-out, RBI double off the wall in right-center to give the Scarlet Knights a 3-0 lead and chase Robinson from the game.
Rutgers tacked on another run in the fifth as shortstop Mike Bionde drew a leadoff walk, and Badger bunted for a single up the third-base line. After Wolski's sac bunt moved up the runners, Frazier lifted a sac fly to left to push the Scarlet Knights' lead to 4-0.
JU's bats finally woke up in the bottom of the fifth after a season-long 15-straight scoreless innings. Junior third baseman Orlando Diaz (Downers Grove, Ill.) led off with a single, but was retired as junior centerfielder Rob Hudson (Garden City, Mich.) reached on a fielder's choice. Galui followed with a single, and senior shortstop Robby Cichra (Plano, Texas) hit a chopper down the third-base line that was booted by Esposito to load the bases. Junior second baseman Larry Best-Berfet (Newark, N.J.) hit a hard grounder to first and avoided a double play to put the Dolphins on the board. Junior leftfielder Clint Hart (Jacksonville/Paxon) walked to load the bases, and Hauseman walked to cut the lead to 4-2, but freshman first baseman Gordie Gronkowski (Buffalo, N.Y.) struck out to end the inning.
In the sixth, sophomore rightfielder Chris Kelly (Sarasota, Fla.) and Diaz led off with back-to-back singles and moved up on Hudson's sac bunt. Galui then ripped a two-run double to right-center and later scored on a balk to give the Dolphins a 5-4 lead.
The lead was short-lived, however, as Rutgers answered with four runs in the top of the seventh. Centerfielder Nick Cerulo tripled to lead off the inning and scored on a wild pitch to tie the game, 5-5. Badger walked, Wolski singled and the pair pulled off a double steal to move into scoring position. Frazier's sac fly put Rutgers up, 6-5, but Esposito delivered the big blow with a two-run home run to left.
Sophomore reliever Josh Deel (Jacksonville/Wolfson) did an outstanding job in relief of Robinson to keep the game close, but ran into trouble in the seventh and took the loss, allowing five runs on five hits in 6.0 innings. Sean Atchison (7-1) earned the win for Rutgers, holding the Dolphins scoreless on two hits in 3.2 innings.
JU, the 2003 Atlantic Sun Conference tournament champions, finish the season with an overall mark of 32-30. This season, head coach Terry Alexander became the Dolphins' all-time winningest coach, while Hauseman was named A-Sun Player of the Year and Gronkowski was tabbed the A-Sun Freshman of the Year as well as the A-Sun Championship Most Valuable Player. Saturday's game was the final game for the four Dolphin seniors - Hauseman, Cichra and pitchers Ryan Courson (North Ft. Myers, Fla.) and Darren Truty (Marengo, Ill.).