Jacksonville Wins Atlantic Sun Championship
Jacksonville Celebrates their Championship
Jacksonville Celebrates their Championship

Saturday, May 26, 2007

DeLand, Fla. - The Jacksonville Dolphins beat Belmont Bruins 7-6 to win the the 2007 Atlantic Sun Baseball Championship presented by Progress Energy. Chuck Opachich singled home the game winning run in the top of the eighth inning. Matt Dobbins earned the win pitching the final three innings. Jacksonville earns the Atlantic Sun's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Jacksonville returns to the NCAA tourney for the second year in a row.

The Dolphins win their third title as a member of the Atlantic Sun. JU won in 1999, 2003 and now in 2007. This was the first time since the A-Sun expanded to an six-team tournament (1996) that a school has beaten the same team twice in one day to win the championship.

The NCAA Tournament selection show will air on Monday, May 28 at 12:30 p.m. on ESPN.

Belmont's Wilson Tucker put the Bruins on the board first with a double to the left field wall driving in Packy Elkins. The RBI was Tucker's sixth of the tournament. Tucker was stranded on second with Belmont holding a 1-0 lead after one inning.

The Dolphins answered in the top of the second with two outs. Kevin Ferreira walked on four pitches and stole second base. Matt Lopez tied the game at 1-1 with a single to right field. Logan James followed with a single of his own advancing Lopez to third, but Chuck Opachich's fly out ended the inning.

Belmont came right back in the bottom of the second inning to take the lead back. Daniel Wagner doubled with one out in the inning. After a Brady Manifold strikeout, Carlo Testa drove a single to right field to bring home Wagner and give the Bruins a 2-1 lead. Matt Reynolds reached on a throwing error by Thomas LePage advancing to second with Testa going to third. Packy Elkins came to the plate with two men on and two outs and hit a line drive into a jumping Justin Young's glove. The glove flew off Young's hand back towards home plate as the ball fell to the ground giving Elkins an RBI single and the Bruins a 3-1 edge. Wilson Tucker struck out to finish the second inning.

Scoring continued in the top of the third as Jacksonville put together a two-out rally to tie the game. Ryan McArdle reached on a Matt Reynolds error and Brad Simmons walked. Both runners advanced on a wild pitch and then scored on a Thomas LePage single up the middle to make it 3-3. Kevin Ferreira flied out to center for the third out.

Kane Simmons put the Bruins back on top with a two out solo shot to right field in the bottom of the third for a 4-3 lead. It was Simmons second homer of the tournament and 15th of the season. It didn't take Pete Clifford long to reclaim the tournament lead for home runs. Clifford hit a simliar shot to Simmons, the difference being Clifford had a runner on base. The two-run bomb drove in Mike McCallister and gave Jacksonville the 5-4 lead in the top of the fifth.

Justin Young went four innings for the Dolphins, striking out four and allowing three earned runs and four total runs. Ben Meador lasted five innings for the Bruins, striking out three and giving up three earned runs and five total runs. Tim Brown relieved Young and Josh Moffitt took over for Meador.

Carlo Testa doubled with one out in the bottom of the sixth inning and advanced to third on a ground out by Matt Reynolds. Freshman Packy Elkins came through with the RBI single to left field bringing in Testa to tie the game 5-5. Wilson Tucker doubled down the left field line advancing Elkins to third base. Ben Petsch walked for the seventh time in the tournament to load the bases for Derek Wiley with two outs. Wiley grounded to first and LePage tagged third base for the force out.

Jacksonville took the lead right back in the top of the seventh inning on a Brad Simmons single up the middle driving in Ryan McArdle who reached base on a double.

Matt Dobbins relieved Tim Brown to begin the bottom of the eighth. Kane Simmons continued to crush the ball leading off the inning with a double to right-center. Daniel Wagner singled Simmons home to tie the game 6-6, but was thrown out trying to stretch his hit to a double.

Chris Manning relieved Josh Moffitt in the eighth inning and inherited a base runner. Chuck Opachich singled home the eventual winning run, Kevin Ferreira, to give Jacksonville the 7-6 lead in the eighth inning.

All-Tournament Team
Pitcher - Jake Hitchcock, Stetson
Pitcher - Matt Davis, Jacksonville
Pitcher - Carson Andrew, Jacksonville
C - Brady Manifold, Belmont
IF - Matt Reynolds, Belmont
IF - Daniel Wagner, Belmont
IF - Ryan McArdle, Jacksonville
IF - Chuck Opachich, Jacksonville
OF - Kane Simmons, Belmont
OF - Mike McCallister, Jacksonville
OF - Pete Clifford, Jacksonville
MVP - Pete Clifford, Jacksonville