SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 16, 2014
Russell Powers Jacksonville To 2-0 Win At No. 19 TCU
FORT WORTH, Texas - Justin Russell’s Dolphins’ debut will be one for the Jacksonville, Fla. native to remember. Russell tossed seven shutout innings to lead Jacksonville University to a 2-0 win at No. 19 on Sunday afternoon at Lupton Stadium.
Behind Russell and senior Adam Maxon’s (Oviedo, Fla.) performance on the mound the Dolphins gave first year Head Coach Tim Montez his first win as the Jacksonville skipper.
With Russell and Maxon combining for a three hit shutout, RBI from Cameron Gibson (Conyers, Ga.) and Dylan Dillard (Kissimmee, Fla.) proved to be all the offense that Jacksonville (1-2) would need.
“This team has come a long way since September,” said Montez. “This is a great team win and it has a lot to do with the makeup and character of the young men on this club. We’ve talked about it since Day One back in September. It’s about our core values, our mission statement and staying together and believing in each other. We are going to play the game the right way and all the way to the end.”
Opportunistic two-out hitting by TCU foiled the Dolphins on Friday and Saturday, but today Jacksonville used it to its advantage. With two outs in the top of the fifth the Dolphins loaded the bases behind three straight singles from Drew Luther (Fullerton, Calif.), Garret Ruckel (Jacksonville, Fla.) and Angelo Amendolare (Edgewater, Fla.) that chased TCU starter Tyler Alexander (0-1).
Gibson was then hit by reliever Alex Young, scoring Luther from third to give Jacksonville a 1-0 advantage. With a lead now in hand, Russell worked around a two-out double in the bottom of the inning stranding a TCU runner on third when he caught Boomer White, the Horned Frogs two-hole hitting, looking for his third strike out of the game.
TCU threatened again in the bottom of the sixth with runners on first and third with two-outs, but once again Russell proved up to the challenge striking out Keaton Jones looking on four pitches. He then cruised through the seventh before giving way to Maxon in the eighth.
“Just a terrific job by JR in his first start. Having a Sunday starter with his makeup is huge for us,” Montez said. “In a lot of series this year he is going to be the deciding factor weather we win a series, sweep a series or a to avoid getting swept. He believes in his stuff, attacks the zone and has great composure.
Dillard, who missed a RBI double down the right file line by inches in the first inning, added an insurance run for the Dolphins in the eighth. Dillard rocketed a shot just inside the third base bag for a two-out double that scored Gibson all the way from first, ending an 0-10 slump for the 2013 Atlantic Sun All-Freshman selection.
“It was a big hit for Dylan,” Montez said. “I told him before the ball game that he is going to be one of our main guys this year. After batting him fifth the last two days, I moved him up to the four spot to show him some confidence and I moved Luther (2-for-4, run scored) down to the eighth spot to get him going and they both did a great job and took advantage of their opportunities.”
Maxon faced four batters in the eighth before running into trouble in the ninth. A Dolphin error and a walk to lead off the inning allowed TCU to move both runners into scoring position with a sac bunt. After hitting a batter to load the bases, Maxon fanned the Horned Frogs leading hitting, Cody Jones on four pitches. A soft hit line drive right to Amendolare at short earned Maxon the save and closed out a signature win for Jacksonville.
Russell (1-0) finished his outing tossing seven innings allowing no runs on three hits with three walks and three strike outs.
“I had a lot of confidence out there and having a great team behind me that didn’t doubt themselves coming off two losses really helped,” said Russell. “As my confidence grew and was put in a few tough situations I’d just look back at Angie (Amendolare) and he gives me a fist bump. That kind of support and energy from the guys built up throughout the game and I feed off it”
Jacksonville no returns home to host No. 5 Florida State on Tuesday. First pitch is scheduled for 4:00 pm EST.