SATURDAY, MAY 26, 2007
Baseball forces final game with 10-4 win over No. 3 Belmont
May 26, 2007
DELAND, Fla. - The Dolphins will push everything to the limit as junior Matt Gardner hurled 8.2 strong innings while the offense produced 10 runs on 14 hits to lead the JU baseball team to a 10-4 win over No. 3 Belmont, Saturday afternoon in final day of the 2007 Atlantic Sun Conference Championship presented by Progress Energy at Melching Field.
JU (33-26) have won four straight games to force the A-Sun Tournament final against the Bruins for a doubleheader. The Dolphins pitching staff has now allowed only five runs in its last 28 innings of work, including 22.2 innings logged by the starting rotation.
Belmont (34-25) suffered its first loss of the week while being held to its lowest scoring output of the tournament.
Gardner (7-5) earned the win after allowing four runs on 10 hits with three walks and a strikeout in 8.2 innings and on 134 pitches. Senior first baseman Ryan McArdle led the Dolphin offense by going 4-for-5 with two doubles and an RBI.
Charles Lee (8-2) suffered his first loss as a starter after allowing five runs on six hits with five walks and two strikeouts in 6.1 innings of work. Matt Reynolds and Derek Wiley each finished with two hits to lead the Bruins.
The Dolphins took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first when Clifford connected on a two-run home run down the right-field foul pole.
Freshman designated hitter Chuck Opachich led off the inning with a base hit up the middle and then crossed the plate when Clifford parked a 0-1 pitch around the pole in right. For Clifford, it was his career-high 13th home run of the season and his second of the tournament.
The Bruins evened the contest, 2-2, in the top of the fourth when Kane Simmons hit a sacrifice fly to left and Carlo Testa beat out an infield single to short with two outs for an RBI.
JU took a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the fifth when senior catcher Donnie Vickers hit a sacrifice fly to right field.
Clifford led off the inning with a walk and then moved to third on a double down the left-field line by senior first baseman Ryan McArdle. With one out, Vickers followed with a drive to right to give the Dolphins the lead.
The Bruins threatened with runners on second and third and two outs but Gardner got Packey Elkins to line out softly to junior shortstop Matt Lopez to end the inning. JU caught a break in the inning when Matt Reynolds' double bounced over the wall which forced Brady Manifold to come back to third.
JU increased the lead to 6-2 in the bottom of the seventh when Clifford scored from third on a wild pitch, junior center fielder Kevin Ferreira hit an RBI grounder to short and junior shortstop Matt Lopez hit an RBI single down the first base line.
With one out, Clifford drew a walk and then moved to second on a single to left by McArdle. After an infield single to third by senior third baseman Thomas LePage loaded the bases, releiver Jimmy Stanley's first pitch went to the backstop to score Clifford. Vickers was intentionally walked to reload the bases before Ferreira beat out a grounder to short to score McArdle. Lopez followed with a bouncer off the top of the glove of first baseman Ben Petsch to plate LePage.
The Dolphins put the contest away in the bottom of the eighth after scoring four runs on six hits to make it 10-2.
Belmont made it 10-4 in the top of the ninth when Derek Wiley hit a two-run double to left field.
JU and Belmont will return to the field for the A-Sun Championship at 4:40 p.m. The contest can be heard live on WZNZ, ESPN 1460 with Barry Milligan calling all of the action.