FRIDAY, MAY 27, 2011
Baseball falls in nail biter to #4 Mercer, 2-1
After coming away with a 2-1 win in the first round, the Dolphins were on the short end of the stick in the second round and will face a tough road the rest of the way as the JU baseball team fell to No. 4 Mercer, 2-1, Thursday evening in the second round of the Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament at Dugan Field.
No. 2 JU (35-21) will now face No. 1 Stetson (41-17) in an elimination game on Friday at 3 p.m. ET. No. 4 Mercer will open the day against No. 6 Belmont at Noon ET, with both teams playing for a spot in the championship game on Saturday. The Hatters survived with a 7-2 win over No. 5 ETSU before the Bruins eliminated Kennesaw State, 4-1. With a win, the Dolphins will play the loser of Mercer/Belmont at 8 p.m. ET on Friday.
“We won a close one yesterday and today we lost a close one,” said JU head coach Terry Alexander. “There were opportunities for us to break things open but it wasn’t our night. We definitely didn’t make things any easier for us in the tournament but stranger things have happened. Our backs are going to be against the wall the rest of the way and we are just going to have to take it one game at a time.”
Freshman Tony Mollica (3-4) was tagged with the loss despite allowing two runs on two hits with five walks and four strikeouts in five innings. Senior Chris Kaminski kept the Dolphins in the contest by hurling four innings of shutout relief.
Justice French (6-2) got the win after allowing one run on nine hits with two walks and five strikeouts in 6.1 innings. JT Odom notched his seventh save of the year after hurling 2.2 innings of scoreless relief.
Sophomore first baseman Adam Brett Walker led the Dolphin offense by going 2-for-3 with a home run. Junior shortstop Jimmy Howick finished 2-for-3 with a double (before leaving with an injury in the fifth) while Kevin Lehane went 2-for-4.
Joe Winker went 2-for-4 with a triple while Billy Burns finished 2-for-5.
The Bears appeared ready to open things wide open in the first with runners on first and second with no outs but Mollica got Jacob Tanis to hit into a double-play to third. With two outs and the bases loaded, Mollica escaped again by getting John Moreland to strike out on a 2-2 pitch.
Mercer appeared to take advantage of a dropped pop up in short right field in the fourth but Walker made a heads up play to put out the flames. With one out and runners on first and second, DJ Johnson popped a ball in short right that dropped between sophomore Taylor Ratliff and Walker. Walker, not wasting any time, picked up the ball and hurled it to junior Kevin Lehane at third to force the runner. Mollica took it from there, striking out Evan Boyd to end the inning.
The Dolphins took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the fourth when Walker led off the frame with a rocket shot over the left-center wall.
The Bears took a 2-1 lead in the sixth when a run scored on a Dolphin throwing error and a DJ Johnson hit a chop RBI single to left.
Tomorrow’s contest can be seen live on ASun.TV and followed through live stats by logging onto JUDolphins.com. The game will also have live updates throughout the contest on 1010XL.