FRIDAY, APRIL 20, 2007
Baseball hosts #18 Stetson this weekend

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) this weekend.
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 first pitch.

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 the outfield.
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 6).
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.

Friday special
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 five games.
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 percentage.
In another cold spell this year, Clifford saw his average drop from .392-333 (2-23) from March 18- 28.
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 April 6.

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 Regionals.
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 Davis.
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 March 10.
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 21.
In 11 appearances since Auburn, Brown has now lowered his ERA from 8.59 to 5.24.

Turning LePage
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 conference pitching.
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 March 3.
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 weekend.

Mc-RBI
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 contest.

Dolphin Notables
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.