With another A-Sun Tournament bid, the No. 2 seed JU baseball team (34-20, 19-11) will travel to Dugan Field for its first round matchup against No. 5 ETSU (36-19, 16-12) on Wednesday at 4 p.m. ET.
No. 1 Stetson (40-16, 23-7) will face No. 6 Belmont (32-24, 17-13) at 12 a.m. ET. No. 3 Kennesaw State (32-23, 18-11) and No. 4 Mercer (36-18, 17-12) will end the first day at 8 p.m. ET.
JU leads the all-time series against ETSU, 10-5, including a series win against the Bucs (2-1) in Johnson City, Tenn. This will be the first meeting between the two schools in the postseason.
The contest can be viewed for free on ASun.TV or followed through live stats by logging onto JUDolphins.com.
JU in the A-Sun Tournament
* For the 10th time in 13 seasons, JU has earned a bid to the A-Sun postseason tournament under head coach Terry Alexander.
* The Dolphins enter with the No. 2 seed in the tournament for the first time since 1999, their first year in the A-Sun. That season, JU won the tournament with a 4-1 record - defeating Troy State in the championship game.
* The Dolphins reached the final day of competition in last year’s Nashville tournament before being eliminated by Mercer.
* The Dolphins won the conference tourney in 2009 as the No. 1 seed, 2007 as the No. 4 seed, 2003 as the No. 6 seed and 1999 as the No. 2 seed.
JU is in search of its first 40-win season since going 43-19 in 2006...with the win over No. 4 Florida, JU moved to 2-6 this year against ranked opponents...the Dolphins handed the Gators is worst home defeat in 2011...the Dolphins have two walk-off wins in the ninth since April 15 and have rallied to win from an early deficit in 14 games this year...the Dolphins are also 2-0 in extra-inning games...JU won four of its five conference road matchups in 2011 (FGCU, ETSU, Belmont, Mercer)...with the sweep over Campbell, JU swept back-to-back conference weekends for the first time since 2008...following a loss, the Dolphins are 16-4...JU has recorded three shutouts on the year, the most since 2004...the Dolphins are 31-13 in weekend play and 9-2 in doubleheaders on the year...against Samford, JU earned its first season sweep over an opponent in a series longer that three games since B-CU (5-0) in 2004...the Dolphins are 3-7 in their last 10 games against ranked opponents.
Health Finally Improved For Dolphins
Injuries are a part of baseball and every team goes through them as the season progresses.
In mid-April, the Dolphins’ fortunes were dealt a big blow with four starters affected. But, recently, some of those players are making their way back into the lineup.
Junior shortstop Jimmy Howick, who had started 28 games, was limited in the field due to an elbow injury (4/6). He was used as a DH and pinch hitter until returning to the lineup at short against Campbell (4/16).
Freshman third baseman Taylor Ratliff, who served as the lead-off hitter, has been limited in the field and at the plate with a right shoulder injury (4/5). He made his way back into the starting lineup at third base in the doubleheader against No. 18 Stetson (4/23).
Junior pitcher Steve Eagerton, who led the A-Sun with a 6-0 record, missed two starts due to a concussion from a come-backer on April 8. He earned a no-decision in his start back at FGCU (4/29) and has made his way back to the weekend rotation.
Senior pitcher Chris Kaminski, the program’s closer the last three years and starter in 2011, was out with a shoulder injury at Belmont (4/1) but made his first appearance on the mound with a shutout inning against Bethune-Cookman (5/10).
Home Sweet Road?
Senior Matthew Tomshaw enjoyed a breakout season in 2010 and after sitting out the first two weeks of 2011 with a sore arm, he looks to be back in business.
Last year, Tomshaw garnered second team all-conference accolades after going 8-2 with a 4.99 ERA and three complete games in 92 innings.
A preseason all-conference honoree this year, Tomshaw has won his last two decisions to improve his mark to 7-3 while leading all starters with a 4.06 ERA in 14 starts.
The most impressive stat is his record away from John Sessions Stadium. In five starts, Tomshaw is 5-0 with a 2.70 ERA with only four walks and 29 strikeouts and a .256 opponent batting average in 40 innings.
Included in those road wins were eight shutout innings at Belmont, a complete-game shutout at FGCU and only two runs allowed in six innings at No. 4 Florida.
Walker, Wisconsin Bomber
Sophomore right fielder/first baseman Adam Brett Walker enjoyed a tremendous freshman campaign, leading the team with 16 home runs, 58 RBI and a .635 slugging percentage and ended with several accolades.
After being named to the A-Sun All-Preseason Team, Walker has not skipped a beat.
Through 54 games, Walker leads the squad with 12home runs, 90 hits, 22 doubles, 70 RBI, 152 total bases, a .700 slugging percentage and a .492 on-base percentage.
He is already making his way into the career record books, surpassing Ernie Carr for ninth (26, 1985-88). He is two home runs shy of moving past Pete Clifford (29, 2003-07) and Rich Katz (29, 1971-74) In other categories, Walker needs nine doubles, 12 RBI, 64 total bases and 70 hits to crack the top 10 all time, respectively.
“Hot Corner” Lehane Has JU On A Roll
Junior Kevin Lehane had a rollercoaster season in 2010 that ended with him missing 41 games with a hamstring injury.
Prior to the bad hammy, Lehane was one of the hotter bats in the JU lineup with a .350 average in 40 at-bats.
Now at full strength, Lehane has established residency at third base and has shored up the left side of the infield - JU is 16-4 in his 20 starts at the “Hot Corner.”
In 53 games, Lehane is second on the squad with a eight home runs and is third with a .354 batting average, 68 hits, 11 doubles, 102 total bases and a.536 slugging percentage.
The Table Setter
Freshman Taylor Ratliff was a highly touted recruit out of Taylor County High School and thus far in 2011 he has been more than advertised. After turning down offers to Florida State and Florida, Ratliff joined the Dolphins as a shortstop.
He made the transition to third base and started 30 games before he was sidelined by a shoulder injury - missing five games. Now healthy, he has made the move to second base - where he has started the last 11 games.
In 48 games as the team’s leadoff hitter, Ratliff is fourth in on-base percentage (.429) and batting average (.352)while leading the squad with 22 stolen bases.
To highlight his presence at the top of the JU lineup, the Dolphins’ only shutout on the year (a 7-0 loss to Evansville) occurred when Ratliff missed the contest due to illness.
Not Very Gulby Like...But
Sophomore center fielder Dan Gulbransen enjoyed a tremendous freshman campaign, flirting with a .400 batting average and ended with several accolades.
After being named to the A-Sun All-Preseason Team, Gulbransen was not suffering through a “sophomore slump” through much of 2011 but has hit a rough spot as of late.
Through 40 games, he was leading the squad with a .416 batting average, 48 runs, 35 walks and a .524 on-base percentage and was in the midst of a 23 game hitting streak.
Since then (10 games - 4/30-5/14), he was .179 (7-39) with one double, two RBI, eight total bases and seven strikeouts - which has lowered his overall batting average to .363.
Gulbransen may have turned a corner however by going 2-for-3 with a home run and two RBI on May 17 at No. 4 Florida. He followed that effort by batting .353 (6-17) with two doubles, a home run and six RBI in the series at Kennesaw State.
Walker Added to National Awards Lists
Without even completing his second year in a Dolphin uniform, sophomore Adam Brett Walker is beginning to show up on the national radar in college baseball after being a late addition to the 60-man mid-season nomination list for the Golden Spikes Award (USA Baseball) and as a semifinalist for the Dick Howser Trophy (NCBWA).
A 2011 A-Sun Preseason all-conference selection, Walker was also voted one of the top three “Biggest Power Threats” by conference coaches in CollegeBaseballInsider.com A-Sun Preview.
The Bermuda Triangle
Most people associate the Bermuda Triangle with the disappearance of ships and planes in a certain area of the Western part of the North Atlantic Ocean.
But in 2011, the same can be said for opposing pitchers who face JU in the eighth inning.
Through 54 games, the Dolphins have done their most damage in the eighth inning by scoring 70 of its 435 runs.
As a team in the eighth inning, JU is hitting .364 (87-239) with 16 doubles, two triples, three home runs and a .493 slugging percentage.
On four occasions, the Dolphins have won four games due to the eighth inning:
Campbell (4/16) - JU trailed 13-7 but nine runs on seven hits and two Camel errors paved the way for a 16-13 win.
#18 Stetson (4/23) - JU and Stetson were even, 4-4, through seven but six runs on six hits and one Hatter error proved to be the difference in a 10-4 win.
FGCU (4/29) - JU trailed 7-5 but five runs on five hits and two Eagles’ errors led to a 10-7 victory.
Kennesaw State (5/21) - JU trailed 7-4 but three runs on two hits and a two-out error by the Owls tied the game. JU eventually won the contest, 11-7, with four runs in the 10th.