TUESDAY, APRIL 08, 2008
Baseball begins week at Georgia Southern on Tuesday at 6 p.m.

April 8, 2008

STATESBORO, Ga. -

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After winning an important A-Sun series over the weekend, the JU baseball team (18-12) will return to the non-conference portion of its schedule with two contests this week.

The Dolphins open the week against Georgia Southern (16-14) at J.I. Clements Stadium on Tuesday at 6 p.m.

The contest can be heard live on 1010XL with Barry Milligan calling all of the action and will also be available through GameTracker on JUDolphins.com.

Other interested parties can purchase the contest via video streaming on the audio/video link of georgiasoutherneagles.com.

GameTracker on JUDolphins.com will be the only available means to follow the contest. Georgia Southern Eagles

Georgia Southern is under the direction of head coach Rodney Hennon, who enters his ninth season.

The Eagles are led offensively by junior right fielder Chris Shehan with a .479 batting average, 42 runs, 57 hits, 11 doubles, 12 home runs, 46 RBI, 106 total bases, a .891 slugging percentage and a.589 on-base percentage. As a team, GS ranks first nationally in home runs (64) and slugging percentage (.596).

Junior closer Blake Nation leads the bullpen with a 3.38 ERA, four saves and 13 appearances. The Eagles pitching staff is on the opposite end of the spectrum with a team ERA of 7.26.

Other points of interest
With the series win over Mercer, JU snapped a two series losing skid in conference play. Sophomore second baseman Chuck Opachich continues to swing a hot stick by batting .444 (8-18) with five runs, two doubles, a .556 slugging percentage and a .500 on-base percentage last week. He has now raised his average from .224 to .308 since March 18. Senior Matt Dobbins has begun to make an impact at first base as he batted .556 (5-9) with five RBI and his first career home run in two games against Mercer. Senior center fielder Kevin Ferreira had his career-high 19-game hitting streak snapped on April 1 against Florida A&M.

Chucky's revenge
Sophomore second baseman Chuck Opachich seems to have shaken off his sluggish start to 2008 in recent weeks.

A preseason all-conference selection, Opachich has led the squad in hitting over the last 14 games and tallied a season-high six-game hitting streak during that span. From March 18-April 6, he has batted .396 (19-48) with six doubles and 25 total bases while registering a .521 slugging percentage and a .463 on-base average.

Due to his hot bat, Opachich successfully raised his overall batting average from .224 to .309 entering this week.

Mr. Consistency
Junior catcher/first baseman Jeremy Gillan has been the most consistent bat for the Dolphins in 2008 and he came up huge in the series against Mercer.

In game one against Mercer, he went without a hit but drew three walks in the contest. In game two, he finished 1-for-5 with two runs and two RBI but his biggest moment came in the series finale.

In a contest in which JU rallied two times, Gillan went 3-for-5 with a home run and a career-high five RBI, including a go-ahead two-run single in the bottom of the eighth to give JU a win in the A- Sun "Series of the Week."

Gillan leads the squad with 33 RBI, 53 total bases and four sacrifice flies while gunning down 8-of-18 base runners from behind the plate. He also ranks second with 40 hits, three home runs and a .449 slugging percentage.

Hang Loosen
Freshman reliever Matt Loosen was by the far the most dominant pitcher for the Dolphins last week as he accounted for three JU wins in his three appearances.

In his first appearance, he hurled two innings of scoreless relief with three strikeouts to earn the win in JU's 5-3 defeat of Florida A&M on April 1.

In his second outing on April 4, he went a season-long 4.1 innings of scoreless relief with a career-best seven strikeouts to keep the Mercer bats at bay and allow the Dolphins to rally for a 3-2 win in 13 innings.

With no rest for the weary, Loosen was called upon again in the series finale on April 6 and hurled one inning of scoreless relief in the ninth to record his first save of the year and hold an 11-10 win for the Dolphins to win the A-Sun "Series of the Week."

For the week, Loosen was 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA and one save in three appearances while allowing only four hits with 10 strikeouts and a .154 opponent batting average in 7.1 innings.

He is now leading the JU pitching staff with a 4-0 record, a 1.88 ERA and an opponent batting average of .233.