May 3, 2007
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -
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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
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
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
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.
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 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
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
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.
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
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
In 11 appearances since Auburn, Brown
has now lowered his ERA from 8.59 to 5.24.
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