SUNDAY, MAY 11, 2014
The Boys are Back! Dolphins Clinch Spot in A-Sun Tourney
SPARTANBURG, S.C. - The boys are back! After missing out on the Atlantic Sun Tournament the past two seasons, Jacksonville secured its spot this season on Sunday. The Dolphins wrapped up a series win at USC Upstate with an 11-7 victory
Jacksonville (17-30; 10-13 A-Sun) now has one week of regular season play remaining before heading off to Fort Myers, Fla. for the 2014 A-Sun Tournament starting on May 21.
“Whenever you have something like the win we had last night you have to do everything to can to capitalize on it and keep it going,” Head Coach Tim Montez said after the Dolphins rallied back from four down in the ninth to win. “I was fairly confident that these guys would be ready to go and we saved our best overall offensive day and our 40th different line-up this season for today.
Scott Schaub (Ocala, Fla.) and Connor Marabell (Jacksonville, Fla.) each had three RBI while shortstop Angelo Amendolare (Edgewater, Fla.) drove in a pair of runs with a home run and triple in his first game back after missing the last three with a stomach virus.
“My team has had my back all the way,” said Amendolare on missing the last three games. “I was trying my hardest to get back on the field to play and to finally be able to get back out there today was awesome.”
Marabell, who was 4-for-4 on the day with three runs scored, also homered in the game for the Dolphins which scored in every inning but the second and ninth.
A RBI double by Marabell and sacrifice fly from Schaub staked Jacksonville to a 2-0 lead in the first. Schaub, who finished 2-for-4 with a triple, then extended the lead to 4-0 with a two-run single in the third. Faced in a similar situation on Friday, the Dolphins were unable to hold the advantage. Upstate (15-36; 5-18 A-Sun) was looking for some Deja vu as they pushed across a pair of runs before an inning ending 4-6-3 double play.
“I believe that defense wins ballgames,” Amendolare said. “When you play defense behind your pitchers they build confidence and continue to throw strikes and get outs.”
Amendolare backed up his defense with the bat as he homered for the first time this season in the fourth. That was followed by a leadoff home run in the fifth by Marabell to swing the momentum back in Jacksonville’s favor. Marabell’s home run was his team leading fifth of the season.
“It was good to have Angelo back in our line-up after being as sick as he was the last four days,” Montez said.
Down 6-4, the Spartans pulled within two once again in the bottom of the inning on a two run home run by AJ Mackey.
There was no slowing down the Dolphins offense however as a RBI triple by Amendolare and a sacrifice fly by Michael Babb (Jacksonville, Fla.) pushed the lead back to four at 8-4. Another run in the seventh and two more in eighth would put the game away.
One last attempt at a comeback was thwarted away by senior closer Adam Maxon (Oviedo, Fla.). Maxon picked up his eighth save of the season and 15th in his career closing out the eighth with the bases loaded then working a 1-2-3 ninth. Justin Russell (Jacksonville, Fla.) won his team best six game of the season after allowing four runs on eight hits in five innings.
“We had good two strike and two out hitting, we competed on the mound and our pitching was just good enough plus we played good defense,” Montez said. “It was a well-rounded baseball game and that’s what we need to carry into the Tournament in a couple of weeks.”
After delivering the game winning at-bat last night, Braddock Rowe (Jacksonville, Fla.) went 3-for-5 today.
Jacksonville will enter the final weekend of league play just one game back of East Tennessee State(11-12) in fifth and a half game behind Stetson (11-13) and North Florida (11-13) in sixth.
“Now we have the option to position our pitching to be as rested as set up as best we can heading into the Tournament since we clinched a spot today,” Montez commented. “I could not be more proud of a group of kids with all the adversity they’ve gone through this year. Good things are in store for this program, I really believe it. That was a good team win.”
When asked about the Dolphins prospects for the A-Sun Tournament, Amendolare added, “We are just getting started. Why not us?”
Jacksonville returns to action on Tuesday at home against Georgia Southern. The 6:30 pm game can be heard live on 92.5 FM. The Dolphins then close out A-Sun play against Northern Kentucky starting on Thursday.