Baseball drops roller coaster contest to No. 3 Belmont, 12-7, in A-Sun Tourney opener

May 23, 2007

Box Score

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After erasing a 4-1 deficit with a five-run eighth, the Dolphins watched No. 3 Belmont score eight runs in the bottom of the eighth as the JU baseball team fell to the Bruins, 12-7, Wednesday afternoon in the first day of the 2007 Atlantic Sun Conference Championship presented by Progress Energy at Melching Field.

JU (30-26), which rallied for five runs on six hits in the top of the eighth to rally for a lead after the seventh inning for only the second time season, dropped its eighth contest while holding a lead after the seventh inning.

Belmont (32-24) will face No. 2 Mercer at 7 p.m. on Thursday after rallying for eight runs on seven hits in the bottom of the eighth to erase a three-run deficit.

"It's hard to explain a game like this because the eighth inning was like a game in itself," said JU head coach Terry Alexander. "We battled back to take the lead but we could not close things out. Now we have to regroup and put today behind us because our backs are going to be against the wall the rest of the way."

Junior Matt Gardner (6-5) was tagged with the loss after allowing six runs on five hits with a walk in 0.1 innings of relief. Senior catcher Donnie Vickers paced the Dolphin offense by going 3-for-4 with three doubles and four RBI to tie an A-Sun Tournament record with three doubles.

Jimmy Stanley (3-1) earned the win despite allowing on run on three hits with a walk and a strikeout in 0.2 innings. Matt Reynolds led Belmont by going 3-for-6 with a double and two RBI while six other Bruins finished with multiple hits.

The Dolphins took an early 1-0 lead in the top of the second when senior catcher Donnie Vickers hit an RBI double down the third-base line with two outs.

Senior first baseman Ryan McArdle got to second on an error in center fielder by Carlo Testa. Senior third baseman Thomas LePage moved McArdle to third on a sacrifice bunt to third. With two outs, Vickers pulled a ball down the line to score McArdle from third.

Belmont threatened with a runner on second and only one out but senior right fielder Mike McCallister made a catch before crashing into the fence on a foul fly down the right-field line and Young struck out Packy Elkins looking to end the inning.

The Bruins evened the contest, 1-1, in the bottom of the fourth when Ben Petsch scored from third on a throwing error at first base. With runners on first and second and two out, Young struck out Brady Manifold looking to end the inning.

Belmont threatened again with the bases loaded and two outs but Young got Kane Simmons to line out to LePage at third to end the inning.

The Bruins made it 4-1 in the bottom of the sixth when Daniel Wagner hit an RBI triple down the right-field line, Brady Manifold hit an RBI single to left and Matt Reynolds laced an RBI single up the middle.

JU cut the deficit to 4-2 in the top of the seventh when Vickers hit an RBI double to left with two outs. With two outs, McCallister pulled a single to short before Vickers crushed a ball off the left field wall.

The Dolphins took a 7-4 lead in the top of the eighth after scoring five runs on six hits while taking advantage of one Belmont error.

Senior second baseman Logan James led off the inning with a single through the right side and then moved to second on a bloop single to left by junior center fielder Kevin Ferreria. After James was gunned down at third on a bunt attempt by freshman Chuck Opachich, senior left fielder Pete Clifford drove in a run with a single through the right side.

After McArdle loaded the bases with a single through the left side, LePage drove in a run and was safe after a fielding error by Ben Petsch at first. McCallister followed with an RBI single to right to tie the contest before Vickers drove in two runs with a double to center.

The Bruins retook the lead, 12-7, after rallying for eight runs on seven hits in the bottom of the eighth inning. Both teams combined for 13 runs and 13 hits in the eighth inning alone.

JU will next face the winner of No. 1 Stetson/No. 6 Lipscomb on Thursday at 3 p.m. EST. The contest can be heard live on WZNZ, AM 1460 with Barry Milligan calling all of the action. The Dolphins Pre-Game show will air 15 minutes before first pitch.