After splitting its mid-week schedule, the JU baseball team (27-17, 16-8) will host cross-town rival UNF (24-19, 12-12) for the final installment of the SunTrust River City Rumble beginning at John Sessions Stadium on Friday at 6:30 p.m. for Senior Night.
The series will then move Downtown for a Noon contest at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville on Saturday. The series will conclude at John Sessions Stadium on Sunday at 2 p.m.
JU leads UNF in the all-time series, 26-13, with the Ospreys taking the season series (2-1) last year. However, JU eliminated UNF in the A-Sun Tourney, 9-8 (5/28).
The final two contests can be heard live on 1010XL with Joel Lamp calling all of the action. All games at John Sessions Stadium can be viewed through ASun.TV and all three games will be available through live stats on JUDolphins.com.
Counting FGCU, has won all four of its conference road matchups in 2001 (ETSU, Belmont, Mercer)...against Stetson, JU won its first game against a ranked opponent in 2011 (1-6)...in the series finale, the contest ran two hours and 48 minutes, ending a six game streak of three hour contests for the Dolphins...with the sweep over Campbell, JU swept back-to-back conference weekends for the first time since 2008 (Gardner-Webb & Belmont)...following a loss, the Dolphins are 14-3...JU has recorded three shutouts on the year, the most since 2004...the Dolphins are 25-9 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 2-8 in their last 10 games against ranked opponents.
Walker Added to Golden Spikes Award List
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.
Since 1978, USA Baseball has honored the top amateur baseball player in the country with the Golden Spikes Award. The award is sponsored by Major League Baseball and presented each year to the player who best exhibits exceptional on-field ability and exemplary sportsmanship.
In 2010, Bryce Harper, the No. 1 pick in the 2010 MLB First-Year Player Draft, won the prestigious award. Past winners also include Terry Francona (1980), Will Clark (1985), Robin Ventura (1988), Jason Varitek (1994), J.D. Drew (1997), Mark Prior (2001), Jered Weaver (2004), Tim Lincecum (2006), David Price (2007), Buster Posey (2008) and Stephen Strasburg (2009).
As of May 1, Walker ranked in the Top 20 in the nation in several offensive categories: RBI per game (8), runs, total bases (12), runs per game and hits (14), batting average (17) and slugging percentage (18). He currently leads the A-Sun in batting average (.412), RBI (61), doubles (19) and total bases (126) and has also found his way into the JU career record book for home runs, ranking 10th with 26 in less than two seasons.
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.
Tomshaw Earns A-Sun Weekly Honor
Senior Matthew Tomshaw was the ultimate "Ace in the Hole" for the Dolphins as his first career complete-game shutout in the rubber game against FGCU gave JU another series win en route to A-Sun “Pitcher of the Week” honors.
After stealing the opener from the Eagles, JU dropped game two and needed a strong effort to save its bullpen on Sunday. Tomshaw did all that and more as he scattered three hits and walked only one batter while striking out five in a 6-0 win.
Tomshaw became the first Dolphin to accomplish the feat in a full nine-inning game since Dennis Robinson shut out Campbell, 8-0, on April 16, 2004. The last complete-game shutout was Matt Gardner, who blanked Mercer (5-0) in seven innings on March, 31, 2007. It also marked the third shutout for JU this season, its most since 2004.
Last season, he earned second all-conference accolades after going 8-2 with a 4.99 ERA and three complete games (the most since Robinson in 2004). This year, he is 5-3 with a 3.91 ERA.
Health Starting To Improve 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).
Senior pitcher Chris Kaminski, the program’s closer the last three years and starter in 2011, is still out indefinitely with a shoulder injury (4/1).
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 42 games, the Dolphins have done their most damage in the eighth inning by scoring 59 of its 334 runs (an average of 1.4 rpi).
As a team in the eighth inning, JU is hitting .366 (71-194) with 14 doubles, two triples, three home runs and a .505 slugging percentage.
In the month of April alone, the Dolphins have won three games due to eighth inning alone:
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.
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 five games.
In 39 games as the team’s leadoff hitter, Ratliff is third in batting average (.365), on-base percentage (.442) and doubles (7) while leading the squad with 19 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.
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 44 games, Walker leads the squad with 10 home runs, 73 hits, 19 doubles, 61 RBI, 126 total bases, and a .712 slugging percentage.
He is already making his way into the career record books, surpassing Rick Scheetz (25, 1978-81) for 10th on the all-time home run list. He needs two home runs to move past Ernie Carr for ninth (26, 1985-88). In other categories, Walker needs 12 doubles, 21 RBI, 87 hits and 90 total bases to crack the top 10 all time, respectively.
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” in 2011.
Through 44 games, Gulbransen is leading the squad with 53 runs and 35 walks while ranking second in batting average (.376), hits (65), slugging percentage (.572), doubles (15) and total bases (99).
Gulbransen, had his career-high 23 game hitting streak end on April 30, currently ranks second in the A-Sun in batting average, on-base percentage, runs and walks.
“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 9-4 in his 13 starts at the “Hot Corner.”
In 43 games, Lehane is fifth on the squad with a .325 batting average, is second with six home runs an third with seven doubles and 31 RBI.
Junior Jonathan Murphy has been on a tear llately after going 4-for-5 with two home runs and six RBi at Florida A&M on May 4.
Through 44 games, he is fourth on the squad with a .327 batting average and is third with nine 10 bases. He currently leads the squad with three triples, is second with 65 hits and ranks third with 51 runs and seven doubles.
He also became the first Dolphins to tally five hits (5-for-6 at Belmont - 4/2) since Chuck Opachich accomplished the feat against Stetson on April 20, 2007.
JU Adds High School Outfielder
The JU baseball team has added another name to its spring recruit list by inking outfielder Dylan Dillard to a National Letter of Intent during the spring signing period.
Dillard joins Johnson County CC pitcher Wes Torrez (Napperville, Ill.) as the second spring signee for the Dolphins.
Dillard, a 6-foot, 185-pound senior at Osceola High School, is currently is currently batting .415 (27-65) with six doubles and a home run. As a junior, he was named Orange Belt all-conference and was voted team Offensive “Player of the Year.”