FRIDAY, APRIL 08, 2011
Baseball rallies for 7-6 win over Mercer to open series
Trailing 6-1 after four innings, the Dolphins found themselves treading water but a fielding error in the top of the fifth followed by a Grand Slam by sophomore center fielder Dan Gulbransen swayed momentum the opposite was as the JU baseball team rallied for a 7-6 win over Mercer, Friday evening at Claude Smith Field.
JU (18-12, 8-5) scored six unanswered runs while freshmen Zac Houck, Adam Maxon and Chris Anderson combined to hurl five shutout innings to set up and preserve the win.
MER (22-11, 8-7) finished with a game-high 15 hits but left a game-high 13 runners on base.
“This was a great win for us after how things have gone the last two games,” said JU head coach Terry Alexander. “We didn’t get down after they jumped out to an early lead and we took advantage of a mistake. Our bullpen danced around the flames more than I would like but they found a way to get the outs when we needed them. We can enjoy this outcome for a few hours but we have to be ready for a battle the rest of the way.”
Maxon (2-3) got the win after scattering four hits with three walks and six strikeouts in 3.2 innings of shutout relief. Anderson notched his fifth save after closing out the final two outs in the ninth. Senior Steve Eagerton had his six straight decision streak snapped with a no-decision after allowing six runs on 10 hits with no walks and three strikeouts in four innings of work.
Russell Moses (2-2) was tagged with the loss after allowing one unearned run on two hits with two walks and three strikeouts in 2.2 innings of relief. Brandon Love got the no-decision after allowing six runs (one earned) on five hits with a walk and five strikeouts in 4.2 innings.
Along with Gulbransen, junior second baseman Jonathan Murphy finished 2-for-5 with two runs and an RBI.
John Moreland led the Bears by going 3-for-4 with two home runs and three RBI while Joe Winker finished 3-for-4 with a double and an RBI. Austin Barrett and Jacob Tanis also finished with multiple hits.
The Bears jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the first when Thomas Carroll hit an RBI triple off the wall in left center and Winker laced an RBI single through the right side.
MER made it 4-0 in the second when Moreland led off the inning with a solo shot to center and Derrick Workman hit an RBI single down the third-base line.
The Dolphins cut the margin to 4-1 in the third when senior left fielder Chris Connelly led off the inning with a line drive homer to left.
The Bears increased the lead to 6-1 in the fourth when Moreland hit a two-run shot to left field.
JU evened the contest, 6-6, in the fifth by taking advantage of a costly fielding error by shortstop Evan Boyd - which would have ended the inning with only an RBI single through the right side by Murphy. Due to the error, the inning continued and Gulbransen made the Bears pay with a towering shot over the right center pavilion for a Grand Slam on a 3-2 count.
The Bears appeared to take the lead once again in the fifth with runners on first and second with two outs but the high drive to right by Moreland landed just shy of the wall for the final out of the inning.
MER threatened again with a runner on second with one out but junior third baseman Kevin Lehane made a charging, off balance thrown to gun down the speedy Billy Burns on a bunt down the line for the second out. With a runner still on third, Maxon would end the threat by striking out Workman swinging.
JU took its first lead of the contest, 7-6, in the seventh when Lehane hit an RBI single to right with two outs.
The Bears seemed primed to make another move in the bottom of the seventh with runners on second and third with one out but Maxon got Barrett to strike out looking for the second out in the frame. After an intentional walk to Moreland to load the bases, Maxon got pinch-hitter Nate Morehouse to strike out swinging to end another yet another threat.
MER had another opportunity to even the contest in the eighth when an error in the outfield put Burns on third with only one out but Maxon got Workman to strike out swinging before getting Carroll to ground out to second to end the inning.
The Dolphins and Bears will continue their series on Saturday at 6 p.m. The contest can be followed through live stats by logging onto JUDolphins.com.