TUESDAY, MARCH 21, 2006
Baseball hosts No. 1 Florida State on Wednesday at Alexander Brest Field
March 21, 2006
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - After dropping two of three games at Campbell last weekend, the JU baseball team will return to the non-conference portion of their schedule as the Dolphins begin a four-game season series against No. 1 Florida State on Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Alexander Breast Field. Prior to the contest, JU head coach Terry Alexander will be honored for winning his 500th career game on March 2. The contest can be heard live on ESPN 1460 with Cole Pepper calling all of the action and former JU coach Rusty Green providing color analysis. The Dolphin Pre-Game Show will begin 15 minutes before first pitch.
JU vs. Florida State: * Florida State leads the all-time series, 105-33 * The Seminoles have an 12-game winning streak and have won 34 of the last 35 games, including a 22-game winning streak at Mike Martin FIeld. * The Dolphins' last win at Mike Martin Field was a 7-4 contest on May 1, 1991. * The Dolphins' last win was a 13-4 decision at Alexander Brest Field on Feb. 24, 2002. * In the last meeting: The Dolphins fell to No. 10 Florida State, 12-5, at Mike Martin Field.
In the latest action: Junior Daniel Murphy went 3-for-5 with three RBI but the Camels pounded out 16 hits as the JU dropped the rubber game of the Atlantic Sun Conference series, 15-6, on March 18 at Taylor Field. JU dropped back-to-back games for only the second time this season. Campbell had six extra-base hits, including two home runs and a triple to earn the series win. Senior LHP Donald Brickle (0-1), who left his last start after getting struck on the arm with a line drive, was tagged with the loss after allowing six runs on eight hits with two walks and three strikeouts in 3.2 innings. Senior Gordie Gronkowski extended his career-high hitting streak to 15 games after finishing 2-for-4 with a double. Junior Logan James also finished with multiple hits in the contest.
Alexander reaches 500: JU head coach Terry Alexander set the the Dolphin program record for career wins (433) with a 7-4 win over Bethune-Cookman on April 30, 2003 at Alexander Brest Field. He has continued his legendary status with the program by earning his 500th career win with a 10-4 victory over Western Michigan on March 2 at Alexander Brest Field.
Dolphin notables: The Dolphins are averaging 7.3 runs per game and have scored at least 10 runs in seven games this season. JU is also outscoring its opponents 98-32 in the first four innings, including a 26-6 advantage in the fourth inning. JU currently has 182 runs, 16 home runs, 368 RBI and 368 total bases compared to 104 runs, nine home runs, 88 RBI and 282 total bases for its opponents The Dolphins (19-6) are off to their best start since going 19-6 to start the 2000 season. JU is currently 6-0 against teams from the northeast with wins over Ohio State, UConn, Penn State and Wagner. The Dolphins have earned season sweeps over South Florida (first time since 1997) and Georgia Southern (for the first time since 1999) to go along with the program's second straight season series win over Belmont.
Big Mac: Junior outfielder Mike McCallister has been a pleasant addition to the Dolphin lineup after transferring from Alabama. A steady defender in right field, McCallister has made the biggest impact at the plate where he is scorching balls across the field. In his breakout performance in a Dolphin uniform, he went 3-for-4 with a double, two home runs and three RBI against Bethune-Cookman on Feb. 12. He currently leads the squad with five home runs, 29 RBI and a .598 slugging percentage.
Matt on the mound: Sophomore LHP Matt Dobbins has emerged as the ace of the starting rotation that has helped the Dolphins off to their hot start in 2006. Mainly a position player last season, Dobbins has made a smooth transition and is making opposing batters scratch their heads. After a no-decision against Georgia Southern on Feb. 7, he has gone 6-0 with a 0.64 ERA in his last six starts. He currently leads all starters with a 6-0 record, a 1.89 ERA and 52.1 innings.
Turning LePage: Junior Thomas LePage started hot in the 2005 season due to the absence of Gordie Gronkowski at first base, but in 2006, he's not going anywhere after another hot start to begin the season. Playing at third base and as a designated hitter, LePage is second on the squad with a .357 batting average and seven doubles. He is also in the midst of a career-high 13-game hitting streak.
Dan the man: Junior third baseman Daniel Murphy has picked up where he left off in 2005 and during summer league play, while also providing the Dolphins with a solid glove at the hot corner. Last season, Murphy had a .238 average heading into a three-game series against UCF on March 25 before finishing the year with a team-high .329 after going 72-for-219 to raise his average over 90 points. Over the summer, Murphy earned Valley Baseball League Most Valuable Player honors with the Luray Wranglers after leading the league with 57 hits, 44 runs scored and 16 doubles. In 2006, he is leading the squad with a .361 batting average and 35 hits.
Mighty Justin Young: Junior outfielder Justin Young was named Atlantic Sun Conference Player of the Week after leading the Dolphins to a three-game sweep over South Florida on Feb. 20. Young became the first Dolphin to receive A-Sun accolades this season and the first JU field player selected since Donald Brickle won the award on March 22, 2004. In game one of the series at Red McEwen Field, Young went 2-for-3 with a double and made several key plays in center field to give the Dolphins a 4-3 win. In game two, he led an offensive onslaught against preseason All-America honoree Casey Hudspeth by going 2-for-3 with a home run and four RBI en route to an 11-6 victory. In the finale, Young had an RBI single and hurled 1.1 innings of relief to lead the Dolphins to an 8-4 win. For the week, he batted .556 (5-9) with a double, a home run, five RBI and a 1.000 slugging percentage.
New face on the staff: Tim Montez, an assistant head coach at Fresno State for the past three years, was named pitching coach/recruiting coordinator on July 11. In 14 seasons as an assistant coach at the Division I level, Montez has had 28 pitchers sign professional contracts and has coached, recruited or worked with 12 major league players. Prior to Fresno State, he served as a pitching coach with Arkansas, Cal State Northridge, UC Santa Barbara and Pepperdine. During that time, Montez has also been part of programs which have earned five NCAA Post-Season Regional berths (Pepperdine -1, UCSB - 1, Arkansas - 3), including a spot in the Super Regional (Arkansas, 2002).
Dolphins announce early signees: The Dolphins announced the signing of six student-athletes during the early signing period, including local products RHP Carson Andrew and shortstop Chuck Opachich (Jacksonville/Episcopal). The local duo will join RHP Glenn Witkowski (Pembroke Pines, Fla.), shortstop/RHP Matt Gardner (Livermore, Calif.), catcher Alex Swenson (Alexandria, Va.) and RHP Jason Hooper (Lake Mills, Wis.) in 2006. The signees marked the beginning of the first recruiting class under recruiting coordinator/pitching coach Tim Montez. Montez, who joined the Dolphins after a three-year stint with Fresno State, had nine nationally ranked recruiting classes in 12 years as a recruiting coordinator.
Dolphins ready to compete: JU will once again face a tough schedule as the Dolphins will play No. 16 Florida State. JU is also slated to play four other teams which played in last year's NCAA Regionals - Harvard, Ohio State, Florida Atlantic and Stetson. The Dolphins will also square off against perrenial powers USF, Connecticut, Maryland and Penn State. All totaled, the Dolphins will play seven teams from the state of Florida.
Atlantic Sun preseason rankings: The Dolphins are the tied for 5th in the Preseason Atlantic Sun Conference Coaches Poll and 6th in the Media Polls. Florida Atlantic was selected first in both polls while Stetson, North Florida, Gardner-Webb and East Tennessee State rounded out the top five.