WEDNESDAY, MARCH 21, 2007
BASEBALL UPSETS No. 1 FLORIDA STATE, 5-3
March 21, 2007
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -
It was the perfect setting for the Jacksonville baseball team on Wednesday night.
A record crowd of 3,109 packed Alexander Brest Field to watch a complete team effort from the Dolphins as the JU baseball team ended No. 1 Florida State's 23-game winning streak to open the season with a 5-3 win.
While the win ended FSU's winning streak, it also exorcised some demons for JU - snapping an 18-game losing streak to the Seminoles, a streak that dates back to Feb. 24, 2002. The attendance also broke the previous mark of 2,954 which was set on April 19, 1995, against Florida State.
"To win a game like this, you knew it was going to come down to the last pitch," said JU head coach Terry Alexander. "We knew it was going to take a complete team effort tonight and everyone contributed. Our pitchers threw well - especially out of our bullpen with Tim Brown doing a great job. On offense, we took advantage of the opportunities we got and made the most of them."
The win is also intriguing in JU history as the Dolphins defeated the Seminoles as a No. 1 seed for the first time since 1991. In that 7-4 victory at Dick Howser Stadium, JU snapped FSU's 37-game home winning streak in Terry Alexander's first season as head coach with the Dolphins.
Sophomore Tim Brown (2-2) notched the win after allowing only one hit in 4.1 innings of relief to go along with two strikeouts and no walks. Included in his performance was a streak of eight-consecutive batters retired and two straight innings in which he did not allow a base runner.
Junior Matt Davis earned his fourth save after closing out the last 0.2 innings, including a strikeout looking on Jason Stidham on a 1-2 pitch to end the game. For Davis, it was his second save in as many days after closing out the 6-2 win over Bethune-Cookman last night.
Senior D.J. Ackley earned the no-decision after allowing three runs on four hits with three walks and two strikeouts in three innings.
Offensively, senior first baseman Ryan McArdle provided the biggest blow with a two-run double in the third inning. McArdle, who played the 2006 season with the Seminoles before transferring to JU, put the Seminoles in their biggest deficit of the season with one swing of the bat.
Junior center fielder Kevin Ferreira, freshman third baseman Chuck Opachich (who also made some dazzling plays in the field) and senior right fielder Mike McCallister each recorded a hit and drove in a run for the Dolphins. McCallister also extended his hitting streak to nine games with his base hit in the third.
Caleb Graham (0-1) was tagged with the loss after allowing five runs (one earned) on five hits with two walks and three strikeouts in four innings of work. Jimmy Marshall kept the Seminoles in the contest with four innings of hitless relief.
Buster Posey and Brandon Reichert each finished with two hits and an RBI to lead the Seminoles. Stidham also drove in a run for FSU.
The Seminoles jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the top of the first when Posey hit an RBI single through the left side with one out.
FSU made it 2-0 in the top of the third when Stidham hit an RBI single to right field with two outs. The Seminoles threatened with runners on first and second and two outs but Ackley struck out Tommy Oravetz on a 0-2 count to end the inning.
The Dolphins took a 4-2 lead in the bottom of the third when freshman third baseman Opachich hit an RBI single up the middle, McCallister hit an RBI single through the left side and McArdle hit a two-run double down the right-field line.
Senior second baseman Logan James led off the inning with a walk and then advanced to second on a fielding error by FSU second baseman Tony Thomas, Jr. on a grounder hit by senior center fielder Kevin Ferreira. In the next at-bat, Opachich drove in James with a sharp base hit back up the middle. With two outs, McCallister hit a high bouncer over the reach of a charging Mark Hallberg at short to score Ferriera. McArdle cleared the bases and put the Dolphins in the lead for good with a double into the right-field corner.
"That was the game-winning hit for us," Alexander said. "Ryan was really nervous in his first at bat but we told him to calm down and just take a pitch down the right field line. He did and it paid off big time for us."
The Seminoles cut the deficit to 4-3 in the top of the fourth when Brandon Reichert hit an RBI single through the right side after a lead off walk to D'Vontrey Richardson.
JU padded the lead to 5-3 in the bottom of the fourth when Ferreira hit an RBI grounder to second.
Senior catcher Donnie Vickers led off the inning with a single up the middle and then advanced to second on a base hit bunt past the mound by James. After both runners advanced on a sacrifice bunt to the mound by junior shortstop Matt Gardner, Ferreira pulled a ball towards second to plate Vickers.
In the ninth inning, Garner entered the game to close out the contest and got Tony Thomas, Jr. to hit a line drive to Ferreira in center field for the first out. After a walk to Hallberg on a 3-1 count, Posey hit a bouncing ball through the left side to put runners on first and second.
Davis entered the game and walked Jack Rye on a 3-1 count to load the bases. In the next at-bat, Davis got Dennis Guinn to pop out to second base for out number two. With Stidham at the plate and the bases still loaded, Davis got Stidham looking with a fastball on the outside corner.
In other odd facts of trivia, Dolphin pitching coach Tim Montez is now 8-0 in his coaching career against opponents which were ranked No. 1 in the nation.
The Dolphins will return to Atlantic Sun Conference play on Friday as JU hosts Kennesaw State at 6:30 p.m.