April 6, 2008
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - After dropping the suspended contest 20-15, junior catcher Jeremy Gillan connected on a go-ahead two-run single in the bottom of the eighth and freshman Matt Loosen closed things out in the ninth to give the Dolphins a pivotal series win as the JU baseball team split its doubleheader against Mercer with an 11-10 win in the finale, Sunday afternoon at John Sessions Stadium.
JU (18-12, 10-8) rallied twice in the second contest and used six different pitchers to keep in the top half of the Atlantic Sun Conference standings.
Mercer (13-19, 9-9) evened the series by taking the suspended contest but could not hold on to the finale despite racking up 30 runs on 39 hits in the final two games.
Trailing 9-8 in the bottom of the eight, the Dolphins rallied for three runs on two hits, including a go-ahead two-run single by Gillan with the bases loaded and two outs.
With one out, senior shortstop Matt Lopez drew a walk and then advanced to third on a bunt single to third by freshman third baseman Jamaal Hawkins with two outs. After sophomore second baseman Chuck Opachich drew a walk to load the bases, junior left fielder Kyle Fleming drew a walk to tie the contest. In the next at-bat, Gillan pulled the first pitch through the left side to put the Dolphins ahead for good.
The Bears would not go quietly as they pulled to within one run with an RBI single to short by Mike Armstrong with two outs but Loosen got Michael Langley to fly out to left, with runners on first and third, to end the game.
"I'm proud of how our guys battled it out in the second game," said JU head coach Terry Alexander. "This was a huge series for us to come away with. Mercer gave us all we could handle and we found a way to pull it out at home."
Sophomore Carson Andrew (4-2) earned the win after allowing two runs on three hits with two walks in 1.1 innings of relief. Loosen, who hurled 4.1 innings of scoreless relief in Friday night's win, notched his first career save after shutting things down in the ninth.
Boone Webster (2-3) was tagged with the loss after allowing four runs on four hits with three walks and four strikeouts in four innings of relief.
Gillan became the first Dolphin to drive in five runs in a contest since Ryan McArdle accomplished the feat against Gardner-Webb on April 14, 2007. Senior first baseman Matt Dobbins, junior right fielder Thomas Myers and Opachich also finished with multiple hits to help the Dolphin offense.
John Dortch and Armstrong each tallied three hits to lead the Bears while Tyler Brown drove in a team-high four runs in the contest.
Mercer took a 3-0 lead in the top of the first when Tyler Brown hit a three-run home run to right center.
JU cut the deficit to 3-1 in the bottom of the second when freshman centerfielder Chris Connelly scored from third on a balk by Hoelzer.
Connelly led off the inning with a single through the left side and then advanced to third on a single through the right side by Dobbins. After senior shortstop Matt Lopez drew a walk to load the bases, Hoelzer balked to allow Connelly to score.
The Dolphins took a 4-3 lead in the bottom of the third after a two-run triple by junior designated hitter Brad Simmons and a run scoring fielder's choice by Dobbins.
Fleming led off the inning with a single through the left side and then advanced to third on a single to right center by Gillan. In the next at-bat, Simmons cleared the bases with a triple into the right-field corner and then scored on grounder to second by Dobbins.
The Bears evened the contest in the top of the fourth when Brown hit an RBI single to left with two outs.
JU took a 7-4 lead in the bottom of the fourth when Gillian hit a three-run shot to left center.
Myers led off the inning with a single to short but was forced out a second on a fielder's choice to second by Hawkins. After a single down the right-field line by Opachich put runners on the corners, Gillan cleared the bases after hitting a 1-0 offering over the left-center wall
The Bears threatened with runner on first and second and only one out in the top of the sixth but freshman Matt Tomshaw entered the contest and struck out Dortch swinging and got Tyler McCarty to fly out to center to end the inning.
The Dolphins pushed the advantage to 8-4 in the bottom of the sixth when Opachich hit a suicide squeeze bunt for an RBI. Myers led off the inning with a double to right center and then advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt to third by Hawkins. In the next at-bat, Opachich placed a bunt down the third base line to score Myers.
Mercer evened the game, 8-8, with four runs on three hits in the top of the seventh, including a two-run double to left center by Dortch with two outs.
The Bears took a 9-8 lead in the top of the eighth when Jason Butts hit an RBI single to left with two outs.
In the continuation of game one of the doubleheader, which was suspended due to rain on Saturday afternoon, Mercer won the game after racking up five runs on five hits in the top of the ninth to win the contest 20-15.
Junior Tim Brown (2-3) was tagged with the loss after allowing five runs on five hits with two walks and two strikeouts in one inning of relief.
John Hoelzer (2-4) got the win after hurling two innings of scoreless relief.
Opachich led the Dolphins by going 4-for-6 with a double and two RBI while Connelly and Dobbins each finished with three hits.
Dortch led the Bears offensively by going 4-for-6 with a double a home run and six RBI.
JU will next travel to Georgia Southern for a non-conference contest in Statesboro, Ga. on Tuesday at 6 p.m. The contest can be heard live on 1010XL with Barry Milligan calling all of the action. The game can also be followed on GameTracker on JUDolphins.com.