Dophins Edge Bears to Win A-Sun Series of the Week

Sunday, April 06, 2008

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - After dropping the suspended contest 20-15, junior catcher Jeremy Gillan connected on a go-ahead two-run single in the bottom of the eighth and freshman Matt Loosen closed things out in the ninth to give the Dolphins a pivotal series win as the JU baseball team split its doubleheader against Mercer with an 11-10 win in the finale, Sunday afternoon at John Sessions Stadium.

JU (18-12, 10-8) rallied twice in the second contest and used six different pitchers to keep in the top half of the Atlantic Sun Conference standings.

Mercer (13-19, 9-9) evened the series by taking the suspended contest but could not hold on to the finale despite racking up 30 runs on 39 hits in the final two games.

Trailing 9-8 in the bottom of the eight, the Dolphins rallied for three runs on two hits, including a go-ahead two-run single by Gillan with the bases loaded and two outs.

With one out, senior shortstop Matt Lopez drew a walk and then advanced to third on a bunt single to third by freshman third baseman Jamaal Hawkins with two outs. After sophomore second baseman Chuck Opachich drew a walk to load the bases, junior left fielder Kyle Fleming drew a walk to tie the contest. In the next at-bat, Gillan pulled the first pitch through the left side to put the Dolphins ahead for good.

The Bears would not go quietly as they pulled to within one run with an RBI single to short by Mike Armstrong with two outs but Loosen got Michael Langley to fly out to left, with runners on first and third, to end the game.

In the conclusion of game two, Mercer took the slugfest, 20-15, scoring five in the nine on Sunday morning after the game had been suspended after eight innings with the score deadlocked at 15.

The Bears started the slugfest, mounting four consecutive hits to take the early 3-0 lead in the top of the second. Mike Armstrong led off with a single up the middle. John Moreland followed, belting a double to right field. Billy Shaughnessy and John Dortch followed with RBI singles and Steve Karwatt grounded out to score Shaughnessy. JU took the lead in the bottom of the frame. Three strikeouts amongst five walks, one wild pitch and three RBI singles, gave the Dolphins the 6-3 lead.

Mercer answered in its next at-bat, notching five runs on just two hits. Tyler Brown singled and a throwing error off a dribbler by Moreland allowed Tyler McCarty to cross the plate. The Bears then took an 8-6 lead when Dortch belted a grand slam straight down the left field line, 340 feet over the wall to score four.

The Dolphins grabbed one run back in the third as Matt Dobbins sent a solo-shot over the left center wall.

The Bears added two runs on three hits in the fourth. Matt Crawford, McCarty and Armstrong singled to increase the lead, 10-7. JU added one run in the bottom of the frame on two base hits.

The Mercer bats stayed rolling, adding three hits to score two runs in the fifth. Karwatt led off with a single to left and after a pop-up Richard Bentley sent a single to the same spot. Brown followed with a two-out two-RBI double to right center and the Bears held the 12-8 advantage.

JU took the lead in the fifth; batting around the order to score seven runs on five hits and capitalized on two Bear errors. Chris Connelly led off with a single to left and scored off a high-chopping infield single by Chuck Opachich. A misplayed fly ball off the bat of Jeremy Gillan allowed two Dolphins to cross the plate and Matt Lopez evened the score with an RBI-single to left field. JU took the lead off an RBI-infield-single by Dobbins. Connelly followed with a two-RBI double to increase the lead to three, 15-12.

The Bears evened the score in the seventh, 15-15. Bentley notched his first home run of the season with a solo-shot in the top of the seventh. With two away, Moreland doubled to drive in Brown and Armstrong, who each tallied singles.

After nearly a 21-hour rain delay, the Bears rallied for five runs on five hits in the top of the ninth. Bentley notched an infield single and advanced to second when the throw to first went out of play. A double over the centerfielder’s head by McCarty plated Bentley. After one out, Armstrong drew an intentional walk and Moreland drew a free pass to load the bases. Shaughnessy followed with a two-RBI single up the middle and Dortch ripped an RBI-single to right. Karwatt beat out the throw on a potential sacrifice bunt to plate Shaughnessy and give Mercer the 20-15 advantage.