Baseball set to compete in Coca-Cola Classic this weekend

Feb. 22, 2007


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After dropping four-consecutive games for the first time since 1995, the JU baseball team (4-5) will play a trio of games in the Coca-Cola Classic in Mobile, Ala. this weekend at Stanky Field.
The Dolphins open with Auburn (6-1) on Friday at 3:30 EST before taking on host South Alabama (2-2) on Saturday at 2 p.m. EST. The Dolphins will conclude their weekend against Michigan State (0-0) on Sunday at noon EST.

Picking up where he left off
Senior right fielder Mike McCallister was a nice addition to the Dolphin lineup in 2006 after spending the frst two years of his career at Alabama. Since he returned home, he is proving to be an integral part of the lineup again in 2007 despite a slow start by JU.
Through nine games, McCallister leads the squad with a .385 batting average, eight runs and a .429 on-base percentage. He also leads the A-Sun with 15 hits and four doubles.
Last season, McCallister led the Dolphins with 10 home runs and was second on the squad with 54 RBI and a .541 slugging percentage.

All he wanted was a chance
Senior first baseman Ryan McArdle thought he had it made in 2006 when he completed two successful years at Tallahassee Community College and transferred to Florida State.
Once he joined the Seminoles, the hard part was trying to get playing time to prove himself Despite starting only 12 games, McArdle finished with a .279 batting average with 17 hits, two home runs and eight RBI.
After transferring to the open arms of the JU coaching staff in 2007, McArdle is proving he belongs on the Division I stage. In nine game, he leads the Dolphins with 25 total bases and a .676 slugging percentage while also leading the conference with three home runs and 15 RBI.

Nothing in return
Junior starter Matt Gardner has been exposed to some early frustration during his first year with the Dolphins. A transfer from Chabot College, Garder spent one season at Fresno State under current Dolphin pitching coach Tim Montez before reconnecting with his former mentor in 2007.
A pitcher and infielder, Gardner has been relegated to strict pitching duties and has solidified a spot in the weekend rotation with his early success.
Success, unfortunately, has not translated into the win column as Gardner (1-1) has suffered a loss and a no-decision despite allowing only four earned runs in 18.1 innings and handing opponents a .191 batting average.
The most difficult to swallow was a seven inning gem in which he allowed only two runs on six hits to USF on Feb. 18. Gardner left with a 5-2 lead only to see the Bulls rally for four runs in the bottom of the eighth en route to a 6-5 win.

Providing a spark
Freshman infielder Chuck Opachich did not exactly know where the future would take him in 2007 as the Dolphins headed into the regular season.
Playing behind senior second baseman Logan James, Opachich was groomed to redshirt and take over the position for the next four years. Due to a injury to junior shortstop Matt Lopez, Opachich got his chance.
Not only has he impressed in the series against USF, but the Jacksonville native may not go back to the bench anytime soon.
In his first collegiate at-bat on Feb. 16, Opachich laced an RBI pinch-hit single back up the middle to fuel a late rally by JU. In his first collegiate start on Feb. 17, he finished 2-for-4 with an RBI single. In the series finale, he topped that effort by going 3-for- 5 with a tripleand an RBI.
In three games, Opachich is batting .600 (6-10) with three runs, three RBI, eight total bases, an .800 slugging percentage and a .636 on-base percentage.

Dolphin Notables
Senior first baseman Ryan McArdle had his seven-game hitting streak snapped on Feb. 18.Freshman starter Carson Andrew has a limited pitch count due to recovering from Tommy John surgery but has been dealing in two outings. In two starts, he has not allowed a run, has given up only three hits and has struck out seven batters in 4.1 innings. Senior second baseman Logan James drew four walks in four at-bats on Feb. 18 against USF. Senior catcher Donnie Vickers has also enjoyed a hot start to 2007. Vickers ranks third on the sqaud with a .316 batting average.