March 26, 2008
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Some old hands and new faces were abundant as the Dolphins rallied from a three-run deficit to snap a five-game slide as the JU baseball team defeated No. 18 Florida, 8-5, in front of 2,312 fans at John Sessions Stadium on Wednesday.
The Dolphins (14-8) split the season series by bouncing back from an 11-6 defeat last night in Gainesville. The Gators (18-5) dropped their second in a row on the JU campus after falling to the Dolphins, 7-2, in 2002.
"I'm proud of the way we came out and competed tonight," said JU head Terry Alexander. "I hope we have turned a corner and left our recent bad stretch behind us. I'm excited to get back into conference play with this momentum."
JU reliever Matt Davis (1-1) earned the win by tossing a scoreless seventh inning, while Tim Brown retired six of his eight batters to earn his first save of the season and fifth of his career. Glenn Witkowski tossed three scoreless innings and Garrett Dunlap allowed five runs on four hits, while striking out four to earn a no-decision.
Florida reliever Kyle Mullaney (0-2) was tagged with the loss after allowing three runs (one earned) on two hits and two strikeouts in 2/3-innings of work. Dustin Bamberg pitched a scoreless 1.2 innings, while starter Stephen Locke surrendered two runs on three hits in three innings for the no-decision.
Chuck Opachich paced the JU offense by going 2-for-3 with two walks and two runs scored. Jeremy Gillian and Matt Lopez would also finish with two hits, while Kevin Ferreira extended his hitting streak to 16 games.
Florida was led offensively by Jon Townsed who went 3-fo-5 with two RBI. Matt den Dekker added two hits, while Cole Figueroa and Bamberg each drove in a run.
The Gators got the early 1-0 lead with a sacrifice fly from Bamberg to score Clayton Pisani in the first inning.
JU's Thomas Myers laced a two-out, two-run homer to left field in the bottom of the inning to help the Dolphins score for the 17th time in the first inning and take the 2-1 lead.
Townsend put the Gators back on top of the leader board in the third inning with a two RBI single to give his team a 3-2 advantage. Pisani led off the inning with a double down the left field line on Dunlap. With two outs, Bamberg and Pisani from a single up the middle by Townsend.
In the fourth inning, Florida added two more runs to take a 5-2 advantage as Tignor scored with the help of three wild pitches after a lead off single, while Figueroa plated Avery Barnes on a sacrifice fly.
Opachich drew a walk off Florida reliever J.K. LaCoste, while Jamaal Hawkins followed with a single to lead off the bottom of the fourth inning. Ferreira moved over both runners with a sacrifice bunt before Fleming walked to load the bases. Opachich scored on a wild pitch during the next at-bat to make it a 5-3 ballgame. Gillan followed with a groundout that scored Hawkins and cut JU's deficit to a run.
In the sixth inning, JU evened the contest on a base-loaded walk during some weird turn of events. Kyle Fleming and Gillan recorded consecutive one-out singles off Gators' reliever Josh Edmondson. After Myers struck out, Edmondson was lifted for Tony Davis. Davis got Glen Johnson to foul off his first offering, but Tignor was called for catcher's interference which loaded the bases for JU. Davis was lifted for Mullaney, who walked Lopez to plate Fleming and tied the game.
The Dolphins overtook the lead with a three-run seventh inning to earn an 8-5 advantage. Opachich started the inning with a single to right field. Opachich moved over to second on balk by Mullaney during the next at-bat. Opachich made it to third as Hawkins reached on a throwing error during his sacrifice bunt attempt. Mullaney committed another balk on Ferreira's at-bat, which scored Opachich and moved Hawkins to second. Hawkins went to third on a single through the left side. After stole base by Ferreira, Hawkins scored on a wild pitch to make it a 7-5 JU lead. Gillan later plated Ferreira on a sacrifice fly to cap off the scoring.
The Gators would get two runners on base in the ninth inning, but Brown struck out Bryson Barber looking to quash the late rally.
The Dolphins head back into Atlantic Sun Conference play for a three-game series beginning Friday when they to Spartanburg, S.C. to face USC Upstate. First pitch of the series is slated for 6 p.m.