FRIDAY, MAY 09, 2014
Jacksonville Falters After Strong Start at USC Upstate
Nate Ricci went 2-for-4 with a RBI and a triple
Nate Ricci went 2-for-4 with a RBI and a triple
SPARTANBURG, S.C. - A strong start by Jacksonville wasn’t enough on Friday night as the injury plagued Dolphins dropped game one of a key Atlantic Sun Conference series at USC Upstate by a final of 10-5 on Friday night.

Jacksonville (15-30; 8-13 A-Sun) now leads Upstate (15-34; 5-16 A-Sun) by three games with five conference games remaining in the race a spot in the upcoming Atlantic Sun Tournament May 21-25. The Dolphins can clinch a spot this weekend by taking the series with wins on Saturday and Sunday.

A game one victory looked to be ripe for the taking as Jacksonville jumped on the board early with its highest scoring first inning of the season. The Dolphins pushed across three runs, coming on a two-run double by Scott Schaub (Ocala, Fla.) and a RBI single by Nate Ricci (Madison, Wis.).

The lead grew to 4-0 in the top of the third after Ricci tripled of the wall in right center and came into score on a RBI double by Dylan Dillard (Kissimmee, Fla.). Upstate responded in the bottom half of the inning scoring four runs on a pair of walks and four hits, including a bases clearing double by Luke Weber.

“Bottom line is with a 4-0 lead and your Friday night guy out there that is where he needs to step up and attack the zone and make them put the ball in play,” said Head Coach Tim Montez. “He (Alex McRae) got into trouble by not throwing strikes and walking five batters. You can’t do that against any team in this conference and expect to be successful.”

The Spartans added on with an unearned run on a throwing error in the fourth before adding three more in the fifth to take control with an 8-4 lead. Any attempt by the Dolphins for a rally was chopped down by a triple play in the fifth and double plays in the sixth and eighth.

“The triple play took some wind out of our sails, but we had some opportunities and just couldn’t put anything together,” said Montez whose team had just three hits over the final six innings of play.

Michael Babb (Jacksonville, Fla.) added an infield RBI single in the seventh to cut into the Spartans lead but that would be as close as Jacksonville would get.

Connor Marabell (Jacksonville, Fla.) had three hits to lead the Dolphins while Schaub and Ricci had two hits each.

“It all starts with pitching, especially on Friday night,” added Montez. “That sets the tone. These guys need to find a way to answer back. There is not much to be said at this time of year. It has to be something that comes from within and they need to find out what that is and comeback and attack the day tomorrow with a fresh attitude.”

Jacksonville was without shortstop Angelo Amendolare (Edgewater, Fla.) for the second straight game.

“It was disheartening not being able to have Angie at short for the second game in a row as he continues to battle a bad stomach virus so we’ll see if he is ready to go physically tomorrow,” Montez said on Amendolare’s status

Game two of the series is scheduled for a 2:00 pm start on Saturday and can been seen live on ESPN3.