THURSDAY, MAY 03, 2007
Baseball hosts UNF this weekend for Sun Trust River City Rumble

May 3, 2007


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After having its conference series winning streak snapped by No. 18 Stetson, the JU baseball team (24-22, 9-9) will turn its focus to cross-town rival North Florida (17-27, 7-11) this weekend for the Sun Trust River City Rumble.
The first game of the series will be on Friday at 6:30 p.m. before continuing on Saturday at 6:30 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.

JU to honor John Sessions
John Sessions, a graduate of Jacksonville University and longtime supporter and benefactor of the baseball program, will be honored by having the stadium bear his name with a pregame ceremony on May 4 before the Dolphins take on UNF.
Sessions, a member of JU's inaugural class of four-year students in 1959 with a degree in business administration, founded Bug Out Service in 1963, which is headquartered in the Arlington area of Jacksonville. The business, which has now expanded to six branch offices, is now being run by his son-in- law, Paul Felker, after Sessions retired as President and CEO in 1997.
Sessions and his wife, Elizabeth Carson, first met at Lafayette High School in Mayo, Fla. where he played basketball and baseball and she was Valedictorian of their senior class. After Carson graduated from Florida State and Sessions completed two years in the Army, as well as a year at Troy State, they were married in July of 1957 and moved to Jacksonville in order for Sessions to attend JU. This summer the couple will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary.
A father of two and grandfather of three, he has produced one JU alum - his daughter, Caren Felker, who graduated in 1983). His grandson, Justin Felker, will continue the family tradition this fall after graduating from Providence High School.
"The University has always meant a lot to me and my family," Sessions said. "We feel extremely fortunate to be able to give back to a school that means so much to us."
A staple at JU baseball games for more than 20 years, Sessions will throw out the ceremonial first pitch before the UNF game with more than 100 friends and family in attendance.

Dolphins to support "Ray of Light"
Former men's basketball standout James E. Ray has been suffering from sarcoidosis, an inflammation and scarring of the lungs, and requires 24-hour oxygen treatment.
The National Basketball Players Retired Players Association has established the "Ray of Light," a campaign focused on collecting financial contributions from former and current players, as well as raising awareness of Ray's situation.
In a show of support, the JU Athletics Department will be collecting donations for the "Ray of Light" during this weekend's series against North Florida for the Sun Trust River City Rumble.
Ray, a four-year starter as a forward from 1976-80, became the first Dolphin to average double figures in points for all four years. He was a three-time all-Sun Belt Conference selection and was named tournament MVP after leading JU to the NCAA Tournament in 1979.
Following his stellar collegiate career, for which he was named to JU's Hall of Fame in 1993, Ray was drafted by the Denver Nuggets with the fifth overall pick of the NBA Draft and played three years with the franchise.

2007 Sun Trust River City Rumble
As the 2007 Sun Trust River City Rumble comes to a close, the final standings are as close as ever and this weekend's baseball series will be the deciding factor.
Currently, UNF leads by a 9-7 margin with four points remaining to be claimed in the season. Women's Outdoor Track and Field has one point to be collected at the 2007 A-Sun Outdoor Championship on May 11-12. Baseball will make up the remaining three points, one for each game of the series.
If JU wins at least two games this weekend and wins the track and field point, the Dolphins would retain the Old Wooden Barrell by virtue of a tie.

Spark plug
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 15 games, he has raised his average more than 50 points (.248-.300) after batting .367 (22-60), 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) and notched 15 runs.
Once he gets on base, Ferreira has developed his base stealing abilities by ranking second on the squad with 13 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.

Mr. Friday night 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 2.65 ERA, 37 strikeouts and a .244 opponent batting average in 57.2 innings.
He has also tallied two complete-game victories (Kennesaw State & Campbell) during that span and had 12 consecutive innings without allowing a run.

West Coast style
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 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.
In 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 four starts, Gardner is 3-1 with a 1.75 ERA and nine strikeouts in 25.2 innings.

Powerful Pete
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 earned A-Sun "Player of the Week" honors after successfully raised his batting average from .194 to .382 since Feb. 18.
On March 12, he earned consecutive A- Sun POW honors to become 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.
He has found the stroke again in his last 10 games by batting .371 (13-35) with three doubles, three home runs and 10 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.

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.
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 11 appearances since Auburn, Brown has now lowered his ERA from 8.59 to 5.24.

Dolphin Notables
JU had its two-game A-Sun series streak snapped after falling to No. 18 Stetson, 2-1. Junior David Yates made his first career start against Bethune-Cookman on May 1. Junior outfielder Stewart Kelly (achilles) and junior infielder Ben Kerr (quad) are out indefinitely.