Dolphins Take Two of Three From Kennesaw State

The Dolphins baseball team headed back to Georgia, this time to take on A-Sun foe Kennesaw State.
Following a 14-4 blowout by the Owls on Friday which saw junior Chris Anderson struggle for the second straight week, sophomore Alex McRae dialed up a dominant performance as JU shutout Kennesaw St. 4-0.
The Dolphins got out to a hot start Saturday, scoring three runs in the top half of the second inning. Drew Luther and Nate Ricci each belted singles to lead off the inning. Garrett Ruckel laid down a sacrifice bunt advancing Ricci and Luther to second and third.
One batter later, Zac Houck singled to plate Luther and Ricci scored on a throwing error making it 2-0 Dolphins. After stealing second, Houck scored on an RBI single off the bat of Nathan Koslowski for a 3-0 lead.
JU would strike for another run in the eighth to make it 4-0 Dolphins. Koslowski walked and stole second before advancing to third on a wild pitch. Braddock Rowe then knocked home Koslowski with an RBI single.
McRae would need nothing more as he tossed a complete game shutout. McRae allowed just three hits while striking out five.
In the rubber match of the three-game set, the Dolphins struck for 10 runs in the first two innings, helping themselves to a healthy, early lead.
Dylan Dillard and Jake Huxtable got on with back-to-back one out singles. Dillard then scored on a fielder’s choice off the bat of Brady North. Braddock Rowe, Luther and Koslowski each followed with singles. Ruckel then walked leading to a bases clearing three run double from Ethan Loosen making it 6-0 JU.
The Dolphins used five more hits in the second to push across four more runs as the first six JU batters reached base, pushing the lead to 10-0.
The Owls struck in the bottom of the fourth where they added four runs of their own cutting the deficit to six at 10-4.
After Kennesaw added another run making it 10-5, the Dolphins got one back in the sixth as Ruckel singled bringing home North who singled earlier in the inning, making it 11-5.
After cutting back into the lead making it 11-6, the Owls were threatening when North started an inning ending 3-4-1 double play ending the push by Kennesaw.
The Dolphins struck for one more run in the seventh to push their lead to 12-6. Houck led off the inning with a double and advanced to third on a sacrifice by Dillard. Houck then scored on a sac-fly by Huxtable.
Kennesaw St. added one run in the bottom half of the seventh cutting the Dolphin lead to 12-7.
The Owls started a rally in their last at-bat scoring three runs on three hits but fell just shy of tying the game and falling to JU 12-10.
The Dolphins (13-23, 6-6) next action comes up this weekend as JU travels to Northern Kentucky.

Terry Alexander: “1″ Last Ride

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Saturday April 6, 2013 was more then just another sunny Saturday to the Jacksonville University family.
That Saturday, JU and the university athletic department retired the number of long-time baseball coach Terry Alexander.
Alexander has spent the past 34 years as part of the Dolphins coaching staff and the last 23 as head coach. In those 23 years, “T.A.” went 713-590-2, winning six conference championships and making 10 regional appearances.
Alexander’s 713 wins are a program record and helped him post five 40-win seasons.
The 2012 season was not the kindest to T.A., but he was able to grab his 700th career win with a 9-2 victory over University of South Florida in Tampa that March. Alexander also saw three of his players get drafted into the MLB.
The Minnesota Twins selected Junior Adam Brett Walker II, A-Sun first team All-Conference honoree, in the third round. Fellow junior and A-Sun first team All-Conference honoree, Dan Gulbransen was selected in the 16th round by the Houston Astros and senior Jonathan Murphy (brother of JU graduate and New York Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy) was taken three rounds later joining Walker with the Twins.
Alexander played his high school baseball at Lee High School here in Jacksonville. He went on to play college ball at Florida State where he was an outfielder. He was with the Pittsburgh Pirates organization for two years before a back injury ended his playing days.
On November 27, 2012, it was reported that Alexander would be hanging up his JU jersey for the last time at the end of the 2013 season. The news came shortly after the Dolphins had their worst finish under Alexander with an 18-38 record.
Alexander is the longest-tenured and winningest coach in any sport in the history of Jacksonville University.
Alexander has a little over a month left in his final season as the Dolphins head coach. The last regular season home game is scheduled for May 12 at 12p.m.
With his departure, Alexander leaves behind a lasting legacy present in every aspect of the baseball program. Success going forward will have much to do with the blood, sweat and tears dedicated to the university by Terry Alexander.

The Great American Game

The month of April brings with it many things. It brings the rain, blooming flowers and signals the approaching conclusion of the school year.

Most importantly, the arrival of April means that baseball is back. Our national pastime has returned.

In late February, early-March, all 30 teams report to their Arizona or Florida spring training homes. Within the month of spring training, young players emerge, rosters take shape and the excitement begins to brew.

On opening day, just about every team thinks they have what it takes to win the World Series (keep dreaming Miami and Houston.) No matter what your record was a year ago, everyone gets some fresh faces and a clean slate.

While some teams’ chances of winning it all are much more realistic than others, each team starts the season with the belief that this is their year.

Favorites are chosen and Vegas lays down the odds, but teams still have to play all 162 games.

The 2012 campaign was filled with highs, lows, emerging stars and faltering veteran ball clubs as the Giants won their second title in three years. On the last day of the regular season, the Athletics won the AL West, the Orioles made the playoffs for the first time since the Ripken era and the Nationals dethroned the five-time NL East champion Philadelphia Phillies.

This offseason saw the already stacked Angels add former AL MVP Josh Hamilton to go along with Mike Trout and Albert Pujols. The Marlins cleaned house sending Josh Johnson, Jose Reyes and a few other players to the Blue Jays who also traded for NL Cy Young recipient, R.A. Dickey. The Braves added the Upton brothers to bolster their outfield with Jayson Heyward.

This season brings with it many uncertainties and predictions. The sexy choice for the World Series right now is the Nationals, Tigers or the LA teams (Angels or Dodgers). The most interesting aspect of the season to me has to be the race for last place in the AL East.

Unfamiliar to the cellar for the most part of their existence, the Red Sox and Yankees appear to be fading into the distance with the emergence of the Rays, Orioles and sudden additions made by the Blue Jays.

Regardless of what happens, one thing is for certain: the next seven months will be some of the most exciting of the year. Throw your predictions out the window now because they’ll most likely mean nothing. Games aren’t played on paper and they play 162 games for a reason.

Dolphins Take One From Mercer, Set to Host Stetson

Chris Anderson and the JU baseball team headed north to Mercer for an Easter weekend clash with the Mercer Bears beginning Thursday.

The Dolphins got on the board early as Jake Huxtable reached on a two base error and advanced to third on a groundout by Nathan Koslowski. Huxtable then scored on an RBI single from Alex McRae. Brady North then doubled, plating McRae for the 2-0 lead.

JU’s lead would soon disappear as Mercer added two of their own in the inning. Preseason All Conference player Derrick Workman blasted a two-run home run to knot up the score.

The Dolphins would keep the pressure on Mercer as they added a run in the second to reclaim the lead 3-2 on an RBI single by Huxtable that scored Dylan Dillard.

The Bears again responded immediately with a run in the home half of the second, knotting the game back up at three.

In the third however, Mercer added three runs off the bat of Nick Backlund who launched a three-run home run over the fence.

JU would cut into the Mercer lead with an RBI single from North to plate Huxtable and a suicide squeeze from Ethan Loosen that scored Koslowski.

Ahead 6-5, Mercer used the long ball yet again as David Reid Foley went deep to right, putting the Bears ahead 8-5. Mercer would add five more runs in the seventh, four of which on a grand slam by Austin Barrett, putting the Bears up 13-5.

The Dolphins bats refused to wake up Friday as JU fell for the second straight day to Mercer.

JU got their lone run in the top of the fifth off the bat of Drew Luther who laid down a suicide squeeze to score Loosen who singled earlier in the inning to tie the game at one.

The Bears scored two runs in the fifth and sixth, stretching the lead to 5-1. They would add another in the seventh and go on to win 6-1.

With the series already lost, the Dolphins took to the diamond to try and salvage one victory from the series.

Alex McRae started on the mound for the Dolphins as they defeated Mercer in game three, 5-2. McRae went six strong innings, walking three and striking out three on the way to his second victory of 2013.

With the score deadlocked at one, the Dolphins were able to break out for three runs in the top of the sixth. Garrett Ruckel led off the inning with a single and moved up to third on a sac bunt by Zac Houck. Koslowski then walked, bringing North to the plate. North sent the first pitch of the at bat deep to right hugging the foul line. The ball wrapped around the foul pole staying fair giving the Dolphins a 4-1 lead.

Each team would add one more run in the game as JU grabbed their 10th win of the season. JU improved to 10-18, 3-3 on the season.

Next up the Dolphins host A-Sun rival Stetson for a three-game weekend series. JU is set to retire long-time coach Terry Alexander’s number on Saturday at John Sessions Stadium.

Baseball Opens Conference Play 2-1

The Dolphins baseball team concluded spring break opening up Atlantic Sun Conference play against the Spartans of USC Upstate.
Junior right-hander Chris Anderson took the mound for JU. Anderson (4-1) yet again baffled opposing hitters, tossing 8 1/3 innings, allowing eight hits and striking out 10 as the Dolphins won their conference opener, 3-0.
JU first got on the board in the fifth inning on an RBI single from senior Ethan Loosen. Brady North scored on the play after walking a few at bats earlier.
The Dolphins added a couple insurance runs two innings later in the seventh. North singled to lead off the inning and moved up to third on a double by Kris Molter. Next up was Josh Baker who singled, plating North and advancing Molter to third. Molter scored on a sacrifice bunt from Dylan Dillard, putting JU up 3-0, a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
After the rain washed out Saturday, the Dolphins and Spartans returned to the diamond for a Sunday double header.
In game one, the Dolphins jumped out to an early lead in the bottom of the first. Michael Babb led off the inning with a double and was advanced to third on a sacrifice from Jake Huxtable. Nathan Koslowski followed Huxtable with an RBI groundout, plating Babb.
JU was right back at it on the offensive the next inning as they erupted for four runs, extending their lead to 5-0.
North and Molter led off the inning with singles and Loosen was hit by a pitch, loading the bases. Dillard then doubled, scoring North and Molter, putting JU up 3-0. Huxtable then plated two more, singling to left and giving JU a 5-0 lead.
The Spartans would add two runs of their own in the third and sixth but would get no closer and the Dolphins went on to win 6-4.
In game two of the double header, the Spartans bats exploded for 19 runs on 19 hits to avoid being swept by the Dolphins.
The Dolphins hit the road to take on Georgia Southern before continuing A-Sun play at Mercer this weekend.

Dolphins Cruise Behind Anderson, Fall Off on Saturday and Sunday

Following their loss to the Gators, JU headed to Orlando to take on UCF.
Dolphins’ ace, Chris Anderson, was on the mound in the Friday night series opener and he did not disappoint, leading JU to a 4-0 victory.
Anderson was slated against the Knights’ ace, Ben Lively. The pitching duel was all it was stacked up to be. The game was a lot closer than the final score of 4-0.
JU struck first in the sixth when Drew Luther doubled to right, scoring Michael Babb from first.
That was all the support Anderson would need as he shut down the Knights all night long. Anderson went 8 innings, allowing just four hits while striking out 10 UCF batters.
Lively was replaced in the top of the ninth after going eight strong innings, allowing just one unearned run and striking out 11.
JU took advantage of the pitching change, striking for three runs in the top half of the inning and giving closer Drew Woods some breathing room.
Brady North singled and advanced to second thanks to a sacrifice bunt from Braddock Rowe. Dylan Dillard was brought on to pinch run for North. Dillard then scored on a RBI single from Alex McRae. Nathan Koslowski doubled, putting runners on second and third for the Dolphins. Kris Molter then singled, plating both McRae and Koslowski and giving JU a 4-0 lead that they would hold onto.
On Saturday, the Dolphins didn’t fair as well as the previous night.
JU opened the scoring in the top of the second. Koslowski led off with a walk, followed by a Molter single and an Ethan Loosen sacrifice. Loosen was able to reach on a throwing error loading the bases. Zac Houck lifted a fly ball to right, scoring Koslowski on the sacrifice fly.
UCF struck back immediately, getting two runs in the bottom half of the second for a 2-1 lead.
The Knights added three more runs in the fifth making their lead 5-1 on their way to a 5-2 victory.
The series came to Jacksonville for the final game of the three-game weekend set.
UCF struck first in the top of the fourth, grabbing an early 1-0 lead on an unearned run.
JU answered back in the bottom of the fourth, taking a 2-1 lead. Rowe singled, followed by a single by Luther, putting runners on first and second. Schaub then walked, loading the bases for Loosen who singled to right, plating Rowe and Luther.
UCF came right back in the fifth with another unearned run, making it 2-2. The Knights got a pair of runs in the sixth thanks to yet another unearned run and an Austin Johnson home run, taking a 4-2 lead.
In the bottom of the sixth, the Dolphins loaded the bases on walks to Luther, Loosen and Schaub. Molter then sent the 2-2 offering to right, scoring Luther and Loosen tying the game at 4.
UCF regained the lead in the top of the ninth on a pair of doubles, giving them a 6-4 lead going into the last frame.
The Knights retired JU in order in the ninth to take the win and the series.
Next up, the Dolphins travel to Bethune Cookman on Wednesday before returning home to host East Carolina beginning Friday at 6:30 p.m.

JU Drops Both to UF With Some Help From the Umpire

Photo By: George Wahl

The Dolphins fought hard but dropped both games in a home-and-home series with the Florida Gators.
The first game brought the Gators to John Sessions Stadium for a Tuesday night match up.
UF’s Casey Turgeon sent the second pitch of the game over the left-field wall giving the Gators an early 1-0 lead.
The Dolphins answered in the third, tying the game on an Alex McRae single that plated Zac Houck. Houck singled and advanced to third on a botched pick-off attempt.
JU added two more runs on their next trip to the plate. Kris Molter blasted a two-run home run, plating Ethan Loosen. The home run was the first of Molter’s collegiate career.
The big inning that seems to always doom the Dolphins came in a much smaller, yet still damaging instance.
UF capitalized on a wild pitch and two JU errors, to plate three runs in the sixth to grab a 4-3 lead.
The Dolphins then used two Gator errors to reclaim the lead at 5-4.
JU wouldn’t score the rest of the game and UF capitalized yet again on costly Dolphin mistakes.
A wild pitch and a passed ball led to two UF runs in the seventh, giving them a 6-5 advantage. The Gators added two more in the ninth on their way to an 8-5 victory.
On Wednesday, JU traveled to Gainesville for the final half of the home-and-home series.
The Dolphins suffered more of the same fate as they had during Tuesday’s game, falling late to UF, 7-6.
Through two, it looked as if the Gators were going to run away with the game as they claimed an early 3-0 lead.
In the top of the third, JU sent seven batters to the plate and mounted an early comeback. Scott Schaub led off the inning with an infield single followed by two walks to Molter and Houck.
With the bases loaded, Michael Babb ripped one to right, plating Schaub. Molter was gunned down at home trying to score from second. Drew Luther came up with two on and delivered a double, clearing the bases and tying the game at 3.
The Gators got back out to a 4-3 lead after a one-run seventh inning. Brady North ended the threat with an unassisted double play to conclude the inning.
Babb led off the Dolphins half of the eighth with a triple, leading to an RBI double by North. Garrett Ruckel then tied the game on an RBI groundout that plated Luther, who was hit by a pitch giving the Dolphins a 5-4 lead.
UF again bounced back tying the game at 5 despite not having a hit in the bottom of the eighth. Errors again plagued the Dolphins as they committed four in the game.
In the top half of the ninth, it looked as if JU was going to pull off the upset. Nathan Koslowski doubled with one out, giving the Dolphins a runner in scoring position. Houck advanced Koslowski to third on an infield single. Luther then singled to center, allowing Koslowski to cross the plate giving JU a 6-5 lead going into the bottom of the ninth.
Justin Shafer led off with an infield single for the Gators. Zack Powers was then hit by a pitch, putting runners on first and second. Taylor Gushue put down a sacrifice bunt, advancing the runners to second and third.
Cody Dent flied a ball to left field that seemed to be caught by Koslowski. While trying to transfer the ball to his throwing hand to get the tagging runner out at home, Koslowski dropped the ball, allowing the tying run to score. Powers was then thrown out at third trying to advance on the play, ending the inning, forcing extras.
On the way to the dugout, the third base umpire ruled that Koslowski did not catch the ball, resulting in runners on first and second and just two outs.
On the very next pitch, Connor Mitchell singled up the middle allowing the game-winning run to score, giving UF a 7-6 victory.

Anderson Shines Again, Dolphins Drop Two of Three

Photo By: George Wahl

Another weekend series has come and gone and again Chris Anderson was the Dolphins bright spot of the three-game set against the TCU Horned Frogs.
In the first game Friday, JU sent their ace to the mound and he delivered. Anderson struck out 13 batters, pitching a complete game and allowing just one earned run as JU won 5-3.
The Dolphins received a solo home run in the first from Dylan Dillard and followed that up with a four-run inning in the second jumping out to an early 5-0 lead.
Alex McRae belted a two-RBI double combined with a towering two-run home run off the bat of Brady North.
On Saturday, little went right for the Dolphins as they were shut out 10-0 by TCU.
The JU offense was rocked to sleep by one of the most highly touted sophomore prospects in all of college baseball.
Preston Morrison went eight strong innings allowing just five hits and facing just two batters more then the minimum.
On Sunday, the Horned Frog offense continued to steam roll Dolphin pitching as they jumped out to a 13-0 lead through four innings of play and needed nothing more to put away JU.
Neither team would score from there on out. TCU took two of three from the Dolphins and JU was victorious in Anderson’s dominant performance in the opening game.

Anderson Shines In Opener, JU Drops Two of Three

Photo by George Wahl II

The Jacksonville University baseball team kicked off its 2013 campaign, the last under head coach Terry Alexander.

The opening series brought the Radford University Highlanders to John Sessions Stadium for a weekend set.

The fans who came out and braved the cold Friday night were treated to an amazing pitching duel and an outstanding performance from junior Chris Anderson.

Anderson, who led the team in innings pitched and strikeouts a year ago, among other categories, looked to be in midseason form on the mound. Anderson, who wound up with a no decision, threw seven strong innings allowing just one hit while striking out 13 Radford batters.

Junior Zach Gordon got the win, throwing four good innings for the Dolphins as well.

With the score knotted at one heading into the bottom half of the 11th inning, senior Ethan Loosen, who brought home the Dolphins first run on an RBI double, sent the 2-1 pitch soaring over the fence giving the Dolphins a 2-1 walk-off win in their opener.

“I hit it well, I’m just happy to help the team and get us off to a good start” Loosen said.
The good start faded though as the Dolphins would drop the remaining two games to the Highlanders.
On Saturday, much like it did many times last year, a big inning for the opposing team spelled doom for the Dolphins. With the score tied up at two in the fifth, Radford capitalized on wild pitches and used timely hitting to knock five runs across the plate, breaking the game open.
Sophomore Alex McRae started on the mound for JU, tossing 4 2/3 innings while allowing two runs and taking the no decision. Josh Baker took the loss for the Dolphins after allowing three runs in one-third of an inning worth of work.
Loosen added a double and an RBI for the second straight game at the plate. Catcher Garrett Ruckel finished 1-for-2 with a double, a walk and an RBI, while Drew Luther added two late RBI’s on a ninth-inning double.
In that ninth inning, the Dolphins put a bit of a surge together but came up just short as the last out was recorded against the wall in center field. Brady North sent the offering deep to center with the bases loaded and two outs with the Dolphins trailing by three, but to no avail, the ball missed getting over the fence by just a few feet. JU fell to the Highlanders 7-4.
After two well-played games, the Dolphins looked drained in the rubber match on Sunday.
As it did so often a year ago and on Saturday, the big inning caught up to the Dolphins yet again as JU fell 11-5.
JU jumped out to an early 2-1 lead when Jake Huxtable lined a two-run home run over the wall in left following a Scott Schaub single. In the top of the fourth, the Highlanders bounced right back scoring eight runs on just five hits as the Dolphins committed three huge errors in the inning.
Starting pitcher Jeff Tanner struggled and took the loss for the Dolphins. Tanner managed to go just 3 1/3 innings as the unraveling in the fourth ended his day.
Again, the Dolphins didn’t go quietly as they scored a run in the eighth as Braddock Rowe singled home Huxtable. They added two more in the ninth as Josh Baker had an RBI triple that plated Loosen. Baker would later score thanks to a Nathan Kowalski grounder.
The Dolphins return to action at FSU on Wednesday then return home to face Richmond over the weekend.

Baseball Alumni Weekend Sets Tone for Upcoming Season.

Jacksonville University baseball struck up huge interest in the upcoming season this past weekend, Oct. 13 and 14.

The weekend opened with a BBQ and batting practice, followed up by the annual alumni game Saturday afternoon.

The alumni kept the game close through the opening 2.2 innings trailing 2-0. Two walks and an error enabled sophomore Garrett Ruckel to extend it to a 5-0 lead.

In the final three innings of the game, the current JU roster added two more runs and the alumni broke through for a leading run, the final score of 7-1 in favor of the current JU players.

“This was another great alumni weekend,” JU head coach Terry Alexander said. “We are grateful to everyone who came out. I enjoyed catching up with new and old faces from our program’s past. We have some great alumni and I hope to see some of them during the upcoming season.”

A great deal of alumni was present for the weekend. Recent graduates Adam Brett Walker II, Dan Gulbransen and Jonathan Murphy were in attendance. Major League Baseball player Daniel Murphy of the New York Mets and brother of Jonathan Murphy also attended the event.

The annual Green and Gold World Series is next on the Dolphins calendar and then after winter break they’ll return for the beginning of their season.

They open with 10 of 12 of their opening games at John Sessions Stadium. The schedule includes games against Florida, Florida State and UCF among other tough tests. They open the season Feb. 15 at 6:30 p.m. at home.

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