FRIDAY, APRIL 04, 2008
Baseball hosts Mercer for three-game series at John Sessions Stadium

April 4, 2008

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

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After dropping a close contest to No. 2 Florida State, the JU baseball team (16-11, 8-7) will return to Atlantic Sun Conference play with an important series against Mercer (12-17, 8-7).

The Dolphins and Bears, who are each tied for fourth in the conference standings, will begin a three-game series at John Sessions Stadium on Friday at 6:30 p.m. before concluding the weekend with a doubleheader on Saturday at 1 p.m.

Friday's contest can only be followed on GameTracker on JUDolphins.com.

The Saturday doubleheader can be heard live on 1010XL with Barry Milligan calling all of the action and Jason Godbey providing color commentary.

The doubleheader can also be seen live via video streaming with ASun.TV.

Mercer Bears
Mercer is under the direction of head coach Craig Gibson, who enters his fifth season in charge of the Bears program.

The Bears are led offensively by senior outfielder John Dortch with a .378 batting average, four triples, three home runs, 30 RBI, 59 total bases, a .567 slugging percentage and four assists. Senior shortstop Billy Shaughnessy is second on the squad with a .363 batting average, eight doubles and five stolen bases.

Senior Justin Boyette leads the rotation with a 3-1 record, a 4.33 ERA and a .274 opponent batting average and 35.1 innings. Junior Dan April is the top arm out of the pen with a team leading 14 appearances, 23.2 innings pitched, 20 strikeouts and a .156 opponent batting average.

Other points of interest
Sophomore reliever Glenn Witkowski currently holds a seven inning unearned run streak. Freshman Steve Eagerton made his team-leading 11th appearance against No. 2 Florida State. Junior catcher/first baseman Jeremy Gillan holds the longest current hitting streak (6 games). The Dolphins are 13- 1 when scoring at least six runs in a contest and 3-10 when scoring five runs or less.

Catching fire
Sophomore second baseman Chuck Opachich and junior catcher Brad Simmons seem to have shaken off their sluggish starts to 2008 in recent weeks.

A preseason all-conference selection, Opachich has second the squad in hitting over the last 11 games and tallied a season-high six-game hitting streak during that span. From March 18-29, he has batted .361 (13-36) with four doubles and 17 total bases while registering a .472 slugging percentage and a .425 on-base average.

Due to his hot bat, Opachich successfully raised his overall batting average from .224 to .282 entering this weekend.

Simmons has led the squad in hitting over the last 11 games by batting .367 (11-30) with three doubles, a triple, 16 total bases, a .533 slugging percentage and a .486 on-base percentage.

During that span, he has raised his average from .273 to .317.