After a one-year hiatus from the postseason, the JU baseball team (36-22) will compete in its 14th NCAA Regional this weekend at McKethan Stadium in Gainesville, Fla. The Dolphins, who own the No. 3 seed, open the weekend against No. 2 seed and No. 16 ranked Miami (36-21) on Friday at Noon. No. 1 seed and No. 2 ranked Florida (45-16) will host No. 4 seed Manhattan (34-17) at 4 p.m. All games in the Gainesville Regional can be viewed live on ESPNU with Clay Matvick and Kyle Peterson calling all of the action. The contests can also be viewed through live stats by logging onto JUDolphins.com. Contests broadcast live on 1010XL with Joel Lamp will be announced later.
JU in the NCAA’s
* The Dolphins are making their 14th appearance in the NCAA Regionals, including their 10th under head coach Terry Alexander.
* The Dolphins have reached the NCAA Regionals in four of the past six years (2006, 2007, 2009, 2011).
* In 14 regional bids, the Dolphins will be playing at their eighth regional site and their third in Gainesville (1991, 2009). JU has competed in Tallahassee, Fla. for five of its appearances (1976, 1994, 1999, 2001, 2003). The program has also made stops in Fort Eustis, Va. (1968), Gastonia, N.C. (1972), Starkville, Miss. (1989), Clemson, S.C. (1995), Athens, Ga. (2006) and Chapel Hill, N.C. (2007).
* The Dolphins have 12 players who were on the roster from their last regional in 2009 but only eight were on the active roster: senior pitchers Brian Gilroy, Chris Kaminski and Matthew Tomshaw, senior catcher Alex Swenson, senior outfielder Chris Connelly, junior pitchers Sean Green and Clay Kollenbaum and junior third baseman Kevin Lehane.
* JU sports a 10-26 record all time in postseason play.
* JU has come within one game of advancing out of the Regionals twice. In 1976, JU eliminated Florida State before falling in the championship game to Auburn. The Dolphins next shot was in 1994, advancing to the finals before falling to Florida State.
JU has earned its second at-large bid in the last six years (2006)...along with Terry Alexander’s 10th regional appearance, associate head coach Tim Montez will be coaching in his ninth regional - Pepperdine (1988), UC Santa Barbara (1996), Arkansas (1998, 1999, 2002) and JU (2006, 2009, 2011)...senior Matthew Tomshaw and sophomore Adam Brett Walker were each named to the A-Sun All-Tournament Team...the Dolphins are in search of its first 40-win season since going 43-19 in 2006...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...following a loss, the Dolphins are 16-4...JU has recorded three shutouts on the year, the most since 2004...the Dolphins are 9-2 in doubleheaders on the year.
Walker Added to National Awards Lists
Without even completing his second year in a Dolphin uniform, sophomore Adam Brett Walker is showing up on the national radar in college baseball after being selected as a semifinalist for the Golden Spikes Award (USA Baseball) and 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.
JU entered the 2011 Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament as one of the top offensive teams in the nation while its pitching staff did enough to keep teams at bay. When the dust settled at the postseason event in Nashville, the pitching staff announced its presence with authority while the offense was trying to catch up. In four games, the Dolphin pitching staff dominated with a 1.00 ERA, a .183 opponent batting average and 24 strikeouts in 36 innings. JU starters logged 25.1 of the 36 innings, which included a complete game by senior Matthew Tomshaw and a career-high seven inning effort by junior Sean Green. The relievers allowed only one run in 10.2 innings of work. Offensively, the Dolphins batted .248 with only four players hitting over .300 (Adam Brett Walker - .429, Chris Moye - .375, Alex Swenson - .357, Dan Gulbransen - .333). The squad also left 42 runners on base while averaging 2.0 runs per contest, including JU’s second shutout of the season in their last game against Mercer (5/27).
Health Has Hit Dolphins Again
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, all of those players made their way back into the lineup. Unfortunately, the injury bug has hit once again and the Dolphins will be without the services of junior shortstop Jimmy Howick. Howick, who had started 51 games, suffered a torn PCL in his knee running out an infield base hit against Mercer in the Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament on May 26. On the good news front, the Dolphins have welcomed back senior outfielder/designated hitter Chris Connelly after he sat out the last six games with meningitis.
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 three of his last four decisions to improve his mark to 8-3 while leading all starters with a 3.78 ERA in 16 starts. The most impressive stat is his record away from John Sessions Stadium. In seven starts, Tomshaw is 6-0 with a 2.20 ERA with only six walks and 36 strikeouts and a .249 opponent batting average in 49 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. Tomshaw continued his dominance by allowing one unearned run on only five hits while striking out seven in a complete game win over No. 5 ETSU in the first round of the A-Sun Tournament.
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 58 games, Walker leads the squad with 13 home runs, 96 hits, 22 doubles, 72 RBI, 161 total bases, a .697 slugging percentage and a .495 on-base percentage. His batting average, hits, doubles and on-base percentage also rank first in the Atlantic Sun Conference. He is already making his way into the career record books, tying Pete Clifford (29, 2003-07) and Rich Katz (29, 1971-74) for seventh. In other categories, Walker needs nine doubles, nine RBI, 54 total bases and 63 hits to crack the top 10 all time, respectively. In the single-season record book, Walker is currently second in hits - needing two more to surpass Tom Meucci (97, 1985) for the program record. He is also tied for second in total bases - needing four to pass Randy Riley (164, 1984).
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 hit a rough spot towards the end of the year. 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. In the A-Sun Tournament, he batted .333 (4-12) with a double and three RBI.
JU’s Iron Man Leads By Example
Senior catcher Alex Swenson is not the largest in stature (checking in at 5-foot-7) but his intangibles and leadership make him the heart and soul of the squad as team captain. Last year in his first full season as starter, he started all 56 of the Dolphins games behind the plate and has started 108 of 114 contests in the last two years. “Swenny” currently leads the squad with eight sacrifice bunts and is second on the squad with 40 walks - both of those marks rank him fifth in the A-Sun. Though he many only be hitting .279, Swenson batted .313 in conference games and is batting a team-best .750 (3-4) with the bases loaded while ranking fourth with a .390 (16-41) with runners in scoring position.