FRIDAY, MARCH 16, 2007
Baseball rallies past Belmont, 8-6, in A-Sun opener
March 16, 2007
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Despite trailing on two occasions, junior shortstop Ben Kerr's first career home run gave the Dolphins the lead for good as the JU baseball team defeated Belmont, 8-6, Friday afternoon in the Atlantic Sun Conference opener at Greer Stadium.
JU (14-11, 1-0) won for the ninth time in its last 10 contests and is currently on a four-game winning streak. Belmont (10-6, 0-1) has dropped three consecutive games.
"This is the best way to start a big conference series on the road," said JU head coach Terry Alexander. "We got some good pitching and even bigger hits and now we need to keep things going."
Sophomore Tim Brown (1-1) earned the win after allowing only one run on one hit with a walk and three strikeouts in two innings of relief. Junior Matt Davis notched his second save in as many games after hurling 1.2 innings. Junior Matt Gardner earned the no-decision after allowing three runs (two earned) on five hits with a walk and three strikeouts in 5.1 innings.
Senior right fielder Mike McCallister went 3-for-5 with a double, a triple and an RBI and senior first baseman Thomas LePage finished 3-for-5 with two RBI to lead the Dolphins. Senior left fielder Pete Clifford extended his career-high hitting streak to 17 games with a base hit in the top of the ninth inning.
Eric Diaz (0-1) was tagged with the loss after allowing four runs (two earned) on three hits in 1.1 innings of relief. Charles Lee got the no-decision despite allowing only two earned runs on six hits with two walks and six strikeouts in six innings. Matt Reynolds led the Bruin offense by going 2-for-4 with a triple and a solo home run.
The Bruins threatened in the bottom of the second with runners on second and third with no outs but LePage took a sharp grounder at first and gunned down Kane Simmons at home for the fielder's choice. Before the next pitch, Gardner picked off Carlo Testa at first base and then Brandon McCall to fly out to right to end the inning without allowing a run.
Belmont took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the third when Matt Reynolds scored from third on a fielding error by junior center fielder. With Reynolds on first, Ben Petsch hit a single to center field. The ball rolled under the glove of Ferreira to allow Reynolds to round third and score the first run.
With one out, McCallister poked a ball down the right-field line and rolled away from a diving Wilson Tucker for a triple. Simmons followed with a sharp single to left to even the game and then scored from first on a double off the left-center wall by McArdle.
The Bruins recaptured the lead, 3-2, in the bottom of the sixth after a pair of solo home runs to left field by Reynolds and Tucker.
The Dolphins evened the score, 3-3, in the top of the seventh when Clifford hit a sacrifice fly to center. Senior second baseman Logan James led off the inning with a walk and then advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Ferreira. After moving to third on a fielding error by McCall at third, James scored on a towering fly to center by Clifford on a 3-2 pitch.
JU retook the lead, 5-3, in the top of the eighth when Ben Kerr hit a two-run blast over the left-center wall. With two outs, LePage hit a 2-2 pitch up the middle before Kerr cleared the bases on the first pitch he saw from Diaz.
The Bruins cut the deficit to 5-4 in the bottom of the eighth when Tucker drove in Reynolds from third after he led off the inning with a triple to center.
The Dolphins opened up an 8-4 lead in the top of the ninth after an RBI single to right center by McCallister and a two-run single to center by LePage.
The Bruins made things interesting in the bottom of the ninth after a two-run triple by Brady Manifold down the right-field line but Davis got Reynolds to ground out to short to end the game.
JU and Belmont will continue its series on Saturday at 2 p.m. EST. The contest can be heard live on WZNZ, ESPN 1460 with Barry Milligan calling all of the action. The Dolphins Pre-Game show will air at 1:30 p.m. EST.