March 23, 2007
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -
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After defeating No. 1 Florida State on Wednesday, the
JU baseball team (16-13, 1-2) will return to Atlantic
Sun Conference play this weekend as the Dolphins
host Kennesaw State (14-8, 0-0) at Alexander Brest
Game one of the series will be on Friday at
6:30 p.m. before the conclusion of the series with a
doubleheader on Saturday at 1 p.m.
The final two contests will be heard live on
WZNZ, ESPN 1460, with Joel Lamp calling all of the
action in Game one and Joe Block filling in for Game
two. Josh Ellis will provide color commentary. The
Dolphin Pre-Game Show will air 15 minutes prior to
A memorable night
Several things occurred with JU's 5-3 win
over No. 1 Florida State on March 21.
The Dolphins ended Florida State's 23-
game winning streak, which was the second longest
in program history. JU snapped an 18-game losing
streak to the Seminoles dating back to it's last win (13-
4) on Feb. 23, 2002. The attendance in the game
(3,109) set a new program record at Alexander Brest
Field, surpassing the previous record of 2,954 on April
The win also marked the first A-Sun team
to defeat a No. 1 ranked team in four opportunities this
season. IN previous matchups, Lipscomb lost to No. 1
Vanderbilt 16-7, Belmont lost to No. 1 Vanderbilt 15-7
and Gardner-Webb lost to No. 1 North Carolina 4-2.
North Florida played Florida state on Feb.
27 when the Seminoles were ranked second in the
nation. The Ospreys were defeated 16-2.
In random JU trivia, the Dolphins' win was
the second largest streak snapped at the expense of
the Seminoles. The Dolphins defeated FSU 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.
The other odd thing to consider is the fact
that JU pitching coach Tim Montez is now 8-0 in
games against opponents which are ranked No. 1 in
the nation. Montez had previously had coaching stints
at Fresno State, Arkansas, Cal State Northridge, UC
Santa Barbara and Pepperdine.
The win also gave the Dolphins a victory
over Florida and Florida State, in the same year, for the
first time since 2002.
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, he is proving he belongs on
the Division I stage and has done his part to help
replace the big bat of Gordie Gronkowski.
McArdle started things of with a bang by
opening the year with with an eight-game hitting
streak. During that span, he batted .394 with 13 hits,
three doubles, three home runs and 13 RBI.
He came down early with a 1-for-15 slump
which dropped his average to .292 on Feb. 15 but he
has come back with avengeance since.
In his last 10 games, McArdle is
batting .395 (15-38) with three doubles, two home
runs and 11 RBI to raise his average to .330. During
that span, he collected career-highs in hits (four) at
Georgia Southern on Feb. 25 and RBI (four) against
Bethune-Cookman on March 13.
His biggest hit came against his former
team as McArdle hit a two-run double to give the
Dolphins a 4-2 lead which led to a 5-3 win over No.
1Florida State on March 21. The Seminoles had
defeated JU in 18 consecutive games prior to the
Through 29 games, he leads the Dolphins
with five home runs and 34 RBI. He also ranks second
on the squad with 59 total bases and a .527 slugging
Junior closer Matt Davis missed the first
23 games of the year after having elbow surgery in the
offseason and his presence was missed.
Since taking over the role last season,
Davis notched six saves including four in the final
month of the season. His biggest was against Sacred
Heart to seal JU's lone win in the 2006 NCAA
In his absence in 2007, the bullpen has
gone by committee and got some good results from
senior Justin Young (two saves), sophomore Josh
Burrows (one save) and freshman Glenn Witkowski
(one save). As a whole, the Dolphins went 3-for-6 in
save opportunities and allowed the most runs during
the year (21) in the ninth inning.
With the return of Davis, Young can move
back into the starting rotation, Burrows is now the jack-
of-all trades out of the bullpen and Witkowski will
become the set-up man.
Since his return, the fireballer has
recorded four saves in five appearances, including 0.2
innings to end the Dolphins' 18-game losing streak to
Florida State on March 21.
In his first appearance of the year, Davis
notched his first save after closing the ninth inning in
an 8-7 win over Bethune-Cookman on March 13. He
earned his second save in as many opportunities by
hurling 1.2 innings of relief at Belmont on March 16.
On Tuesday, he got number three after
hurling two innings of shutout relief. The next night he
helped JU hold onto a 5-3 win over the No. 1
Junior starter Matt Gardner has gone full
circle 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 had been
relegated to strictly pitching duties with a spot in the
weekend rotation but things have changed.
After making 10 appearances on the hill
with seven starts, Gardner made his first start at
shortstop on March 18 due to injuries to juniors Matt
Lopez (thumb) and Ben Kerr (quad).
Touted as the Dolphins' best fielder
entering the season, Gardner proved the statement to
be correct by not committing an error in three starts.
Against Bethune-Cookman, he tallied his
first hits of the season by going 2-for-5 with a double
and two runs scored.
With the return of junior Matt Dobbins to
the starting rotation, Gardner could be used solely in
the field due to his quick chemistry with senior Logan
James at second base. Gardner will also be used on
the mound when the time is necessary.
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.
The key word to describe the Green Cove
Springs native this year is "consistency". Through 29
games, he has not recorded a hit in only six contests
and has never had his average dip below .300 for the
Included is a 10-game hitting streak and a
nine-game hitting streak that he is currently on. During
his recent streak, he is batting .457 (16-35) with three
doubles, two triple, a home run, 12 RBI, 26 total
bases, a .743 slugging percentage and a .512 on-
base percentage. He has also raised his overall
batting average over 30 points (.329-.366) during that
Through 29 games, McCallister leads the
squad with a .366 average, 41 hits and three triples.
Last season, McCallister led the Dolphins
with 10 home runs and was second on the squad with
54 RBI and a .541 slugging percentage.
No, I'm not Matt Davis
Sophomore Tim Brown has had an up and
down season in 2007 and he even has been
mistaken for teammate Matt Davis on occasion.
What is true is the fact that Brown has
turned a corner as a pitcher and the Dolphins are
benefitting from the results.
After failing to hold a lead against No. 29
Auburn in which he allowed two runs on no hits with
two walks in 0.2 innings on Feb. 23, Brown's ERA
rose to 8.59 in four appearances. After four more
appearances, including a start against Florida, Brown
was more effective on the mound but things did not
bounce his way as his ERA sat at 7.23 and he was
charged with a loss against UNC-Greensboro on
In his last four appearances, Brown is 2-1
with a 3.00 ERA with only two hits allowed and seven
strikeouts in nine innings of relief. The biggest
appearance being 4.1 shutout innings in which he
allowed only one hit and did not walk a batter to earn
the win against No. 1 Florida State on March 21.
In eight appearances since Auburn, Brown
has now lowered his ERA from 8.59 to 6.06.
The return of Chucky
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
pair of injuries to junior shortstop Matt Lopez,
Opachich has gotten his chance.
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 triple and an RBI.
He has now made the move to his natural
positron at third base and he has flourished in the
field with his cat like reflexes, quickness to the bunt
and his strong arm.
In 20 games, Opachich is currently fourth
on the squad with a .310 batting average and second
with eight stolen bases.
The Dolphins's win over No. 1 Florida
State was the JU's first victory over a ranked opponent
since a 10-9 decision at No. 18 UCF on March 28,
2005. Junior shortstop Matt Lopez will be out of the
lineup indefinitely after suffering a thumb injury against
UNC-Greensboro on March 10. Junior outfielder's
John Tiner (knee) and Stewart Kelly (achilles) are also