May 30, 2009

Courtesy of Jacksonville Athletics

Sophomore second baseman Chuck Opachich hit the go-ahead home run in the eighth while sophomore Chris Kaminski and junior Kyle Kriech teamed up to lead the JU baseball team to an 8-7 win over Bethune-Cookman, Saturday afternoon in the second day of the NCAA Gainesville Regional at McKethan Stadium.

JU (37-21) tallied its first win in the postseason since a 4-3 victory over Sacred Heart on June 3, 2006.s

B-CU (32-28) lost its second consecutive game by a score of 8-7 in Gainesville and fell to 0-4 against the Dolphins this season.

After the Wildcats scored two runs in the bottom of the seventh to even up the game, 7-7, Opachich hit a solo shot in the top of the eighth to put JU up for good.

"Mervyl Melendez needs a lot of credit for what he has done at Bethune-Cookman and I mean that from the heart," said JU head coach Terry Alexander. "We missed a lot of opportunities early to blow the game open and Bethune battled back to tie things up. Fortunately for us, Chuck came up with a big hit and our bullpen was able to close things out."

Kaminski (5-1) got the win after hurling 2.1 innings of scoreless relief in which he struck out five batters. Kriech entered the game with runners on first and second with two outs and struck out pinch-hitter Peter O'Brien looking to notch his first career save. Sophomore Matt Loosen got the no-decision after allowing six runs (five earned) on six hits with a walk and nine strikeouts in 6.1 innings.

Edgar Serra (1-2) was tagged with the loss after allowing a run on two hits with a walk and a strike out in 0.2 innings of relief. Ali Simpson also got the no-decision after allowing five runs on five hits with four walks in two innings of work.

Along with Opachich, senior left fielder Kyle Fleming went 3-for-4 while catcher Jeremy Gillan went 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI. Junior first baseman Alex Martinez finished 2-for-3 with a home run and senior right fielder Thomas Myers added a two-run homer.

Alejandro Jimenez led the Wildcats by finishing a game-high 4-for-4 with a double, a triple and a home run. C.J. Lauriello went 2-for-5 with a double, a home run and two RBI.

The Dolphins took a 1-0 lead in the first when Gillan hit an RBI double. With one out, sophomore shortstop Jamaal Hawkins hit a single to right center and then came home on a deep drive to left center by Gillan.

The Wildcats took a 2-1 advantage in the bottom of the first when Lauriello hit a two-run homer to left field with one out.

JU made it 2-2 when Opachich hit a sacrifice fly. Fleming, sophomore Chris Connelly and sophomore third baseman Glen Johnson each drew a walk to lead off the inning. Opachich followed with a high fly to left to plate Fleming.

BC-U took a 4-2 lead in the second when Jimenez and Drew Clark each hit a solo homer down the right-field line.

The Dolphins answered with five runs on three hits in the top of the third to take a 7-4 lead. Gillan was hit by a pitch to lead of the inning before Myers hit a towering shot over the center field wall to even up the contest. Martinez followed with a monster shot over the left-field wall and then sophomore designated hitter Alex Swenson drew a walk. After Swenson stole second, Connelly drew a walk with one out. With two outs, Opachich cleared the bases with a double into the left-field corner.

The Wildcats cut the deficit to 7-5 in the bottom of the fourth when pinch hitter Jeremy Davis drove in a run with a grounder to second.

B-CU threatened with a lead off triple in the bottom of the sixth but Loosen got Chris Brown and Clark to strike out looking before getting Aaron Patterson to pop out to second to end the inning.

The Wildcats evened things up, 7-7, in the bottom of the seventh when Ryan Durrance hit a two-run single back up the middle. B-CU had runners on second and third with two outs but Kaminski got Chris Brown to strike out swinging to end the inning.

JU will await the loser of Game Four between Florida and Miami to play at 1 p.m. on Sunday at McKethan Stadium. The contest can be heard live on 1010XL with Barry Milligan calling all of the action or followed on GameTracker by logging onto JUDolphins.com.