Baseball tangles with top teams starting Wednesday
It doesn’t get any easier for the JU baseball team this week as it plays the top teams of the Southern and Atlantic Sun Conferences starting Wednesday.

The Dolphins (11-14, 1-2 A-Sun) will play at the SoCon leader College of Charleston Wednesday at 6 p.m. in Mt. Pleasant, S.C., to complete their two-game season series.

Belmont, second in the A-Sun, comes to Jacksonville Friday for a three-game series at John Sessions Stadium after taking two of three from preseason favorite Stetson.

“This is not going to be an easy week,” JU head coach Terry Alexander said. “We have two very good teams that are hot right now. As long we keep things simple, we can put ourselves in a position to get some wins.”

The Dolphins had a tough go of it last week but ended with an 8-7 (7) walk-off win against Kennesaw State at home on March 25.

The teams exchanged the lead three times before sophomore Taylor Ratliff’s two-out double in the seventh inning plated junior Ethan Loosen for the game-winning run.

Sophomore Chris Anderson (3-1) earned the win in relief of game two, scattering two hits and fanning three batters in 1.1 innings. He also went 2-for-4 with three RBI and a double to help the cause.

Anderson (.345) and junior Dan Gulbransen (.308) are the only two Dolphins right now with .300 average at the moment. Junior Adam Brett Walker II leads the team with 19 RBI.

Anderson also paces the pitching staff in strikeouts (23) and starts (6), while freshman Alex McRae boasts a staff-best 3.00 ERA in 39 innings of work.

The Cougars (18-6, 10-2 SoCon) have won 12 of their last 14 contests entering the week. They will host in-state rival Charleston Southern tonight before playing the Dolphins.

Marty Gantt leads the offense in average (.411), runs scored (31), RBI (24) and doubles (9). Brandon Murray is second with a .300 average, while Wednesday’s scheduled starter Griffin Jones is 0-1 with a 2.57 ERA in 14 innings.

Earlier this season, four College of Charleston pitchers combined for a two-hit shutout in a 7-0 win against JU at John Sessions Stadium on Feb. 28. Ryan West, Kyle Ownings and Dre Watts sat down the first 24 hitters to help set up the Cougars sixth straight victory over JU.

JU’s last win against the Cougars was a 5-2 decision at home on March 17, 1992. They have one road win on Feb. 22, 1992 (3-1).

The Bruins (16-10, 4-2) took the first two against Stetson with ease before falling in the third, 6-4. In all, they have won eight of their last 11 contests.

Zac Mitchell powers the offense by hitting .344 (31-90) with nine doubles and 15 RBI. Dylan Craig leads the Bruins with 21 RBI, while William Dodd and Greg Brody have four home runs each.

The Bruins’ pitching staff is led by James Buckelew who boasts a 3-0 mark with a 1.95 ERA and 14 strikeouts in 32.1 innings. Matt Hamann has 26 strikeouts in 35 innings.

In the all-time series, JU owns a 20-15 lead against Belmont dating back to the 2002 season. The Dolphins have won six of the last seven games, including winning two of three in Nashville last season.

Fans can follow the action this week through the live links at JUDolphins.com.