SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 18, 2007
Baseball can't hold off USF in 6-5 loss

Feb. 18, 2007

Box Score

TAMPA, Fla. - Junior Matt Gardner scattered six hits in seven innings and the Dolphins held a three-run lead in the bottom of the eighth but the JU baseball team could not hold on in a 6-5 loss to USF, Sunday afternoon at Red McEwan Field.

JU (4-5) dropped its fourth consecutive game despite scoring two runs in the top of the eighth to lead 5-2. USF (6-0) is off to its best start since 1982.

Junior Adam Rapoza (0-1) was tagged with the loss after allowing a run on two hits in an inning of relief. Gardner earned the no-decision after allowing six hits and only two runs while walking two and striking out two in seven innings. Freshman shortstop Chuck Opachich finished 3-for-5 with a triple and an RBI.

Ryan Lau (1-0) earned the win after hurling 1/3 of scoreless relief while Yuri Higgins notched the save with a perfect ninth. Dexter Buter, Ty Taborelli and Brualio Pardo each finished with two hits to lead the Bulls.

"We put ourselves into position to win but we couldn't put it away," said JU head coach Terry Alexander. "We left a lot of runners on base and we couldn't support a good performance by Matt Gardner."

Trailing 5-2 in the bottom of the eighth, USF scored four runs on two hits while taking advantage of three hit batsmen to start the inning.

JU took a 1-0 leading the top of the first when senior right fielder Mike McCallister hit an RBI single back up the middle. Opachich laced a triple down the right-field line and senior right fielder Pete Clifford was hit by a pitch. In the next at-bat, McCallister laced a 1-2 pitch back up the middle to drive in Opachich. It marked the second consecutive game in which JU scored in the first inning.

The Dolphins made it 2-0 in the top of the second when Opachich laced an RBI single to right center with two outs. With two outs, senior second baseman Logan James and senior center fielder Kevin Ferriera drew consecutive walks before Opachich went with a 0-2 pitch to drive in the run.

USF cut the deficit to 2-1 in the bottom of the second when Pardo hit an RBI single to left field. With runners on first and third and one out, senior third baseman Thomas LePage snared a Josh LeRoy liner and dove on third base to double up the runner and end the inning.

JU made it 3-1 in the top of the third when Ferriera drew a bases-loaded walk with two outs. Senior first baseman Ryan McArdle reached on a throwing error by third baseman Addison Maurszak to lead off and junior designated hitter Matt Dobbins followed with a walk. After being moved over with a sacrifice bunt by senior catcher Donnie Vickers, James drew a walk and Ferreira drew a walk to score the run.

The Bulls cut the margin to 3-2 in the bottom of the third when Ty Taborelli hit an RBI single up the middle.

The Dolphins pushed the lead to 5-2 in the top of the eighth when senior left fielder Pete Clifford hit a two-run single down the left-field line. With one out, James drew a walk before advancing to second on a sacrifice bunt by Ferriera. Opachich followed with an infield base hit to third and then advanced to second when no one covered the base at the conclusion of the play. Clifford followed with a flare down the left-field line to drive in both runners.

JU will next compete in the Coca-Cola Classic in Mobile, Ala., beginning with Auburn on Friday at 3:30 EST.