March 28, 2008
SPARTANBURG, S.C. -
After defeating its second ranked opponent this season, the JU baseball team (13-8, 7- 5) will jump back into Atlantic Sun Conference action as the Dolphins begin a three-game series against conference newcomer USC Upstate (12-13, 7-5) in Spartanburg.
The series will begin on Friday at 6 p.m. at Cleveland S. Harley Park. The series will conclude with a doubleheader on Saturday beginning at 1 p.m.
The Saturday doubleheader will be heard live on 1010XL with Josh Ellis calling all of the action and former JU alum Logan James providing color commentary.
All three contests can be seen live via video streaming with ASun.TV on JUDolphins.com.
All three games can also be followed through GameTracker on JUDolphins.com.
USC Upstate Spartans
USCU is under the direction of head coach Matt Fincher, who is entering his 11th season with the program.
The Spartans are led offensively by senior infielder Andrew Runion with a .368 batting average, 35 hits, five home runs and 56 total bases. Junior catcher Phillip Morgan is third with a .321 batting average and second with four home runs, but leads the squad with seven doubles and 28 RBI.
Senior Kyle Bowley (4-1, 1.75 ERA, 1.64 OPP BA) is the ace of the staff and one of the top pitchers in the conference. The Spartans employ a bullpen by committee as sophomore Tyler Oliver and junior Justin Hayes each lead the squad with two saves.
USCU enters its first year at the Division I level after leading the program to a No. 18 ranking at the Division II level in 2007.
A youthful spark
Freshman infielder Glen Johnson had been patient to start the 2008 season. After suffering through injuries in the fall, Johnson fell down the depth chart and stayed there for a while after JU jumped out to a 12-1 start.
After the Dolphins suffered through a 1-6 stretch, Johnson got his opportunity at #18 Florida and will not be leaving the lineup any time soon.
In his first appearance and start on March 25, Johnson went 3-for-4 with a double. He followed up that effort with a 1-for-3 day in JU's 8-5 win over the Gators on March 26.
Opachich heating up
Sophomore second baseman Chuck Opachich seems to have shaken off his sluggish start to 2008 in recent weeks.
A preseason all-conference selection, Opachich is currently in the midst of a five-game hitting streak in which he has led the squad with a .471 (7-19) batting average.
During that span (March 18-26), he has successfully raised his overall batting average from .224 to .271.
Batting 1-2 in the top of the order all season, the duo has combined for 64 hits, 53 runs, six doubles, a triple, a home run, 30 RBI, 75 total bases, eight sacrifice bunts and 24 stolen bases.
Ferreira, the lead-off batter, is tied for eighth in the A-Sun with a .385 batting average while leading the conference with 31 runs and is second with 16 stolen bases. He has also sparked JU's 13- game first inning scoring streak to open the 2008 season when he reached base in 17-of-23 opportunities(.739) to lead off an inning. He is also in the midst of a career-best 16 game-hitting streak.
Fleming, the two hitter, is fourth in the A- Sun with a .414 batting average while also leading the conference with 21 walks and is second with a .547 on-base percentage. He is also the best at advancing runners by succeeding in 39-of-57 opportunities for a team-leading 68.4 percent success rate.
Other points of interest
Senior center fielder Kevin Ferreira is currently in the midst of a 16-game hitting streak. Senior Matt Davis earned his first win in 2008 with one inning of scoreless relief against No. 18 Florida. Junior Tim Brown notched his first save in 2008 and his fifth career save with two scoreless innings against the Gators. The Dolphins have now won games against two ranked opponents for two consecutive years.