April 20, 2007
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -
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After winning its second consecutive A-
Sun series, the JU baseball team (23-19, 8-7) will
look to put a chink in the armor of No. 18 Stetson as
the Dolphins host the first-place Hatters (30-10, 13-2)
The first game of the series will be on
Friday at 6:30 p.m. before continuing on Saturday at 1
p.m. The series finale will be on Sunday at 1 p.m.
All three games can be heard live on
WZNZ, AM 1460 with Barry Milligan calling all of the
action and Josh Ellis providing color analysis. The
Dolphin Pre-Game show will begin 15 minutes before
Lightning in a bottle
Junior center fielder Kevin Ferreira was
envisioned to leadoff the top of the Dolphin lineup,
create havoc on the base paths and be a ball hawk in
Although all three categories did not click
at the same time, Ferreira is now hitting on all
cylinders and even adding some extra pop at the plate
over the last 10 games.
In his last 10 games, he has raised his
average more than 50 points (.248-.297) after leading
the squad with a .425 average (17-40), including a
season-high seven-game hitting streak in which he
batted 14-for-28 (.500). He also tied a career high with
three hits in three consecutive games (March 31-April
Once he gets on base, Ferreira has
developed his base stealing abilities by ranking
second on the squad with 12 bags. After being picked
off three times by Florida A&M in the season opener,
he has only been thrown out once.
In the field, he has committed only one
error and has run down several fly balls which would
have dropped in for base hits.
Senior starter Justin Young may be in his
last season at JU but he is solidifying his career after
college with his sudden transition from everyday
center fielder to the ace of the staff.
After taking the hill for the first time last
season, he finished the year with a solid 2-2 mark and
a 1.66 ERA with three saves, 26 strikeouts and a .199
opponents batting average.
In 2007, Young started the season as the
closer due to the absence of Matt Davis. In six
appearances, he finished with a 1-1 record and a 7.88
ERA with two saves, eight strikeouts and a .303
opponent batting average in eight innings.
Since moving to the starting rotation,
where he is more comfortable in his preparation, he is
3-2 with a 2.24 ERA, 33 strikeouts and a .235
opponent batting average in 52.1 innings.
He has also tallied two complete-game
victories (Kennesaw State & Campbell) during that
span, including 11 consecutive innings without
allowing a run.
King of the hill
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 changed a little.
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 making several game-saving stops in
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 Lopez, Gardner was
back in the starting rotation on March 31 at Mercer. Not
only was there no rust, but only managed to throw the
Dolphins' first shutout since Dennis Robinson in 2004.
Through nine innings, he scattered five
hits while walking two and striking out two batters. He
also snapped A-Sun Preseason "Player of the Year"
Josh Thompson's 19-game hitting streak.
In his last three starts, Gardner is 3-0 with
a 1.83 ERA and nine strikeouts in 19. 2 innings.
The Big Red Dog heats up, again
Senior left fielder Pete Clifford did not start
the 2007 season the way he planned but has bounced
back in a major way.
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.
On March 5, 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. He successfully raised his batting average
from .194 to .382 since Feb. 18.
On March 12, he earned consecutive A-
Sun POW honors after batting .381 (8-21) with two
doubles, two home runs, eight runs, nine RBI, 16 total
bases and a .762 slugging percentage to lead the
Dolphins to a 5-1 week.
He is the first A-Sun player to earn back-to-
back honors since former Dolphin Chad Hauseman
accomplished the feat in April of 2003.
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 more than 70 points to .357.
During that span, Clifford tallied a career-
high 18-game hitting streak (Feb. 18-March 17) in
which he batted .500 (32-64) with seven doubles, two
triples, three home runs, 21 RBI, 52 total bases,
a .813 slugging percentage and a .573 on-base
In another cold spell this year, Clifford saw
his average drop from .392-333 (2-23) from March 18-
He has found the stroke again in his last
10 games by batting .378 (14-37) with three doubles,
three home runs and 16 RBI. During that time, he
belted his second grand slam of the season and
tallied a career-high five RBI against Campbell on
Dr. Save, M.D.
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 went
by committee and converted 3-of-6 save opportunities
while allowing the most runs during the year (21) in
the ninth inning.
Since his return, the fireballer has
recorded six saves in nine appearances, including the
final two outs to end the Dolphins' 18-game losing
streak to Florida State on March 21.
He notched his first win after hurling three
innings of shutout relief in a 5-3 win over Campbell on
April 7. Davis also converted two saves in back-to-
back games to give JU its first win and series victory
against Gardner-Webb at Varsity Field.
In his career, Davis has tallied 13 saves
and is four shy of surpassing Joe Ausanio (1985-88)
for first on the all-time list.
The guard rail
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. In his new role, Brown is
the last line of defense before handing things over to
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 eight appearances, Brown is 2-
0 with a 2.20 ERA and a save in 16.1 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
In 11 appearances since Auburn, Brown
has now lowered his ERA from 8.59 to 5.24.
Senior Thomas LePage did not have the
start he wanted in his final season in a Dolphin
uniform but he is saving the best for last by feasting on
In his first 12 games, he was icy at the
plate with a .133 batting average (4-30) with only two
extra-base hits and three RBI. He began to thaw with a
5-for-7 effort in a doubleheader against LaSalle on
Still hovering around .231 on March 16,
LePage got the spring back in his bat as the Dolphins
opened up A-Sun action. In two games at Belmont, he
went 4-for-9 with two RBI to raise his average to .262.
After cooling to .244 on March 31, LePage
welcomed more conference pitching and found his
way above .300 for the first time in 2007. In a
doubleheader against Campbell, he finished 7-for-8,
including a career-high 4-for-4 and three RBI in game
one to raise his average to .302 (an amazing 169
points higher from March 2).
In A-Sun action, LePage is leading the
squad with a .361 batting average (13-36). He is
currently sitting at .270 but is due for another big
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. 25 but
bounced back with a career-high 4-for-5 performance
at Georgia Southern on Feb. 28.
In his last 10 games, McArdle is
batting .333 (14-42) with four doubles, a home run and
seven RBI. During that span, he collected a career-
high five RBI against Gardner-Webb on April 14.
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. 1
Florida State on March 21. The Seminoles had
defeated JU in 18 consecutive games prior to the
JU won its second consecutive A-Sun
series. The Dolphins ended an 0-6 drought at Varsity
Field to win its first season series at Gardner-Webb.
Junior Matt Lopez recorded his first home run of the
2007 season in a 5-4 win over Gardner-Webb on April
14. It was only the third home run of his career. Junior
outfielder Stewart Kelly (achilles) and junior infielder
Ben Kerr (quad) are out indefinitely.