After starting its five-game road trip with a loss at No. 20 College of Charleston, the JU baseball team (11-6, 2-1) will get back into A-Sun play against ETSU (11-2, 4-0) beginning on Friday at 7 p.m. at Cardinal Park.
JU leads ETSU in the all-time series, 9-6, including a series win by the Bucs (2-1) last season at John Sessions Stadium. In fact, each program has won its respective series on the road in the last four seasons.
The Bucs are currently receiving votese in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches Poll.
The contests can be viewed through live stats by logging onto JUDolphins.com. Be sure to check for other available outlets on gameday.
JU’s 9-3 home record is the best start at John Sessions Stadium since opening 9-3 in 2008...JU has recorded two shutouts on the year, the most since 2008...the Dolphins are 11-2 during weekend play in 2011...JU is also 5-1 on the year in doubleheaders...the Dolphins, however, are 0-4 when playing during the week...against Samford, JU earned its first season sweep over an opponent in a series longer that three games since Bethune-Cookman (5-0) in 2004...the Dolphins are 2-8 in their last 10 games against ranked opponents, including a 0-3 mark in 2011.
Junior Jonathan Murphy prepared to make the move to second base when the 2011 season started but the experiment lasted one game.
After that, Murphy is back in his comfort zone in left field and is flourishing in the field and at the plate.
Through 16 games, he is batting .357 (25-70) with two doubles, two triples, two home runs, 14 RBI and a .529 slugging percentage. He currently leads the squad with 22 runs scored and 25 hits.
Defensively, he is leading all outfielders with four assists.
Pickin Up Where He Left Off
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 has not suffered a “sophomore slump” thus far in 2011.
Through 17 games, Gulbransen is batting .339 (20-59) with four doubles and a team-best .468 on-base percentage and 16 walks.
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 17 games, Walker leads the squad with a .375 batting average, five doubles, three home runs, 40 total bases and a .625 slugging percentage.
Two Familiar Faces Stabilizing Staff
It has been a long two years for junior pitchers Steve Eagerton and Sean Green.
In those two years, the duo has missed a combined 180 games due to injuries and surgery (Eagerton - elbow, Green - shoulder) but 2011 has been a different story.
Green, who’s last appearance was at USF on March 10, 2010, got his first win since 2009 when he hurled two innings of shutout relief at UNC-Wilmington on Feb. 19. He followed that up by hurling 1.2 innings of scoreless relief at No. 8 Florida State on Feb. 22. Thus far in 2011, Green in 1-0 with a 2.53 ERA and eight strikeouts in 10.2 innings.
Eagerton, who last appeared at FIU on March 23, 2010, got a no-decision in his first start by logging six innings and allowing only one run at UNCW on Feb. 20. Since then, he has won three-straight decisions over Samford, Wagner and USC Upstate. He currently leads all starters with a 3-0 record, a 1.33 ERA and 27 innings pitched.
Junior shortstop Jimmy Howick was a major reason for JU's series win at UNC-Wilmington during the 2011 opening weekend.
Despite a position change from third base to shortstop, Howick certainly seems comfortable at the plate, batting 7-for-12 with two home runs, four RBI, 13 total bases, a 1.083 slugging percentage and a .538 on-base percentage in the opening series at UNC-Wilmington.
Howick enjoyed a career game in the series sweep over Wagner by finishing 3-for-5 with a double, a triple and a career-high six RBI in a 20-4 win on March 4.
He currently leads the squad with 22 RBI.
Healthy Lehane Is Good News For JU
Junior first baseman 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 started 13 of 16 games for the Dolphins and his bat has been one of the focal points in the lineup.
Thus far, he is batting .333 (17-51) and leads the squad with three home runs.