March 11, 2008
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - With their backs against the wall for the first time at home, the Dolphins rallied for two runs in the bottom of the ninth to keep their home winning streak in tact as the JU baseball team defeated Florida International, 8-7, Tuesday evening at John Sessions Stadium.
After a two-run homer by Jorge Castillo in the top of the ninth put the Golden Panthers ahead, 7-6, the Dolphins got a lead off single up the middle by junior catcher Jeremy Gillan and consecutive walks by senior first baseman Matt Dobbins and junior right fielder Thomas Myers to load the bases.
Junior catcher Brad Simmons followed with a slow ground out to short to tie the game before freshman pinch runner Jamaal Hawkins scored from third on an errant throw to third by reliever Daniel DeSimone. DeSimone, who made a snap throw to third in an attempt to pick off Hawkins, had his throw sail past Anthony Boza and up the third-base line to allow the winning run to cross.
JU (11-1), which increased its record to 8-0 at home, ran its winning streak to five consecutive games by scoring four runs in the final three innings.
FIU (6-9) scored four runs in the final two innings but were unable to close out the contest.
"We made some mistakes tonight but we found a way to come out with a win," said JU head coach Terry Alexander. "This was one of those games where the last team batting would win and fortunately for us, we got to bat last tonight. I'm proud of the way we were able to pull ourselves up off the mat when they landed a big blow in the top of the ninth."
Freshman Matt Loosen (2-0) was credited with the win after allowing one run on one hit in one inning of work. Freshman Sean Green earned his second straight no-decision after allowing three runs on six hits with four walks and three strikeouts in five innings.
DeSimone (0-2) was tagged with the loss after allowing three runs (two earned) on four hits with three walks and two strikeouts in 1.1 innings.
Freshman right fielder Chris Connelly led the Dolphin offense by going 3-for-3 with two doubles and an RBI in his first collegiate start. Gillan also finished 3-for-5 with an RBI while junior left fielder Kyle Fleming and sophomore second baseman Chuck Opachich finished with multiple hits.
Corey Lozano led the Golden Panthers by going 3-for-4 with two doubles and two RBI. John Petika and Junior Arrojo also finished with multiple hits.
FIU took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first when Raimy Fuentes hit an RBI single down the left-field line with one out.
JU, which extended its first inning scoring streak to 12 games, evened the contest in the bottom of the first when senior shortstop Matt Lopez hit an RBI single. Senior center fielder Kevin Ferreira led off the inning with a double over the head of Boza and moved to third on a sacrifice by Fleming. In the next at-bat, Lopez pulled a ball through the left side to plate Ferreira.
The Dolphins increased the lead to 3-1 in the bottom of the second when Dobbins scored on a wild pitch and Connelly hit an RBI double. Dobbins led off the inning with a single through the right side and then advanced to second on a wild pitch by FIU starter Eric Horstmann. Junior third baseman Dan Maier followed with an infield single to first to move Dobbins to third, before he scored on another wild pitch by Horstmann. With one out, Connelly laced a pitch down the right-field line to score Maier from second.
JU made it 4-1 in the bottom of the third when Gillan hit an RBI single with one out. Fleming led off the inning with a single off of Horstmann's glove and then advanced to second on a wild pitch. With one out, Gillan pushed a single through the right side to score Fleming.
The Golden Panthers cut the margin to 4-3 in the top of the fifth when Castillo hit a sacrifice fly to left and Petika hit an RBI single up the middle.
The Dolphins increased the lead to 5-3 in the bottom of the seventh when Lopez scored on a wild pitch by FIU reliever Petika. Lopez reached base and advanced to second on a throwing error by Boza at third to lead off the inning. After moving to third on a wild pitch, Lopez scored on another wild pitch by Petika.
FIU evened the contest, 5-5, in the top of the eighth when Lozano hit a two-run double down the left-field line with two outs.
JU recaptured the lead, 6-5, in the bottom of the eighth when Fleming hit an RBI single with two outs. Simmons led off the inning with a single to left center and then advanced to second on a single through the right side by Opachich. With two outs, Fleming fisted a single to left field and Simmons avoided the tag by catcher Steven Stropp to score the go-ahead run.
The Golden Panthers answered in the top of the ninth when Castillo hit the two-run bomb to right center with no outs to set up the stage for the JU comeback.
JU and FIU will continue play on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. at John Sessions Stadium. The contest can be seen live through ASun.TV on JUDolphins.com.