March 5, 2007
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -
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After snapping a four-game slide by winning back-to-
back games, the JU baseball team (7-10) will return to
the road for a single game against 2005 national
runner-up Florida (9-6) at McKeathan Stadium.
The contest will be heard live on WZNZ,
ESPN-1460, to kick off the 2007 radio broadcast
season. Barry Milligan will call all of the action and
Joel Lamp will provide color analysis. The Dolphin Pre-
Game Show will air at 6 p.m.
Clifford named A-Sun POW
Senior left fielder Pete Clifford did not start
the 2007 season the way he planned after tearing the
cover off the ball during the summer.
A preseason all-conference selection,
Clifford had managed only a .194 batting average (7-
for-36) and five RBI in his first nine games this season.
But after an impressive weekend in
Mobile, Clifford finally found his rhythm again and his
past proves that more good things are in store. In
three games at the Coca-Cola Classic, he batted .500
(6-12) with a double, a home run and four RBI.
Last week, he batted .650 (13-20), with
three doubles, a triple, eight runs, four RBI, 18 total
bases, a .900 slugging percentage and a .696 on-
base percentage to earn A-Sun "Player of the Week"
honors. With his recent streak, he has successfully
raised his batting average from .194 to .382 since Feb.
18 and has a nine-game hitting streak.
February blues are not uncommon for
Clifford after hitting only .185 through seven games as
a junior in 2006. The trend didn't stick very long as he
rebounded with a 14-game hitting streak to raise his
average over 70 points to .357.
Clifford leads the squad with a .382 batting
average, 26 hits, 15 runs, seven doubles, a triple, 41
total bases, a .603 slugging percentage, a .475 on-
base average and five stolen bases. In the A-Sun, he
leads the conference in hits, is second in total bases
and tied for second in doubles.
Junior shortstop Matt Lopez has returned
to the lineup after sitting out five games due to being
hit in the elbow with a pitch. Senior first baseman
Thomas LePage snapped out of a 4-for-30 slump to
start the season by going 5-for-10 in his last three
games. The Dolphins have won back-to-back games
for the first time since early February. Senior Justin
Young has made the move into the starting rotation,
despite starting the season as the squad's closer.
The Dolphins are 1-5 in games decided by two runs or
less, including three games in which JU held the lead.
Picking up where he left off
Senior right fielder Mike McCallister was a
nice addition to the Dolphin lineup in 2006 after
spending the first 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.
Through 17 games, McCallister is second
with 25 hits, 14 RBI and five doubles and third with
a .356 batting average.
Last season, McCallister led the Dolphins
with 10 home runs and was second on the squad with
54 RBI and a .541 slugging percentage.
Junior starter Matt Gardner has been
exposed to some early frustration during his first year
with the Dolphins. A transfer from Chabot College,
Gardner 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 strictly 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 (1-2) has suffered two
losses and three no-decisions despite allowing only
11 earned runs in 30.1 innings and handing
opponents a .219 batting average.
The hardest 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.
In his first collegiate start on Feb. 3, he
was tagged with a no-decision against Bethune-
Cookman after allowing no runs on three hits with two
walks and three strikeouts in five innings of work.
Gardner earned his latest N/D after
allowing four runs on six hits with two walks and a
career-high eight strikeouts in 6.2 innings of work
against No. 29 Auburn on Feb. 23.
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 17 games, he leads the Dolphins with
three home runs and 20 RBI. He also ranks fourth on
the squad with a .313 average, third in runs (11), hits
(21) and doubles (four) and is second in total bases