Feb. 22, 2007
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -
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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
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
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.