After a heartbreaking loss at Bethune-Cookman, the JU baseball team (13-8, 4-2) will return to conference play with a three-game set against Lipscomb (7-14, 0-3) beginning on Friday at 6:30 p.m. at John Sessions Stadium.
JU leads LU in the all-time series, 16-5, including a split in the season series (1-1) last year at Dugan Field. The third game of the series was cancelled due to flooding.
The series will continue on Saturday at 1 p.m. before concluding on Sunday at 1 p.m.
The contests will be broadcast live on 1010XL with Joel Lamp calling all of the action. Each game can also be viewed through live stats by logging on to JUDolphins.com. Friday night will be the only game available on ASun.TV.
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 13-3 during weekend play in 2011...JU is also 5-1 on the year in doubleheaders...the Dolphins are 0-5 when playing during the week...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 2-8 in their last 10 games against ranked opponents, including a 0-3 mark in 2011.
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 but has made the transition to third base and serves as the leadoff hitter..
Through 20 games, Ratliff is leading the squad in several offensive categories, including batting average (.390), hits (32), doubles (6) and stolen bases (12). He is also second in runs (26) and on-base percentage (.469).
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.
Tomshaw In Mid-Season Form
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 2-1 while leading all starters with a 2.70 ERA in five starts.
His most impressive outing saw him hold ETSU’s powerful offense to only two runs on nine hits while walking none and striking out eight in seven innings (3/19).
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 21 games, he is batting .360 (32-89) with three doubles, two triples, two home runs, 18 RBI and a .506 slugging percentage. He currently leads the squad with 27 runs scored and 32 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 21 games, Gulbransen is batting .387 (29-75) with six doubles and a team-best .500 on-base percentage and 20 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 21 games, Walker leads the squad with a four home runs, 28 RBI, 50 total bases and a .617 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 2.03 ERA and eight strikeouts in 13.1 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 four-straight decisions over Samford, Wagner, USC Upstate and ETSU. He currently leads all starters with a 4-0 record and 26.2 innings pitched.