LakePoint, Ga. - We are just a few days away from opening day of the 2018 ASUN Conference Baseball season. Let's take a look at how the defending ASUN Regular Season champions Jacksonville Dolphins will look in 2018 coming off an impressive campaign and their first regular season crown since 2006. Head Coach Chris Hayes has several key players returning as the Dolphins look to take that next step and reach the NCAA Tournament once again.
In the lineup, the Dolphins are returning a host of starters who played key roles in last year's success. Jacksonville ranked second in the ASUN in doubles (103), third in team batting average (.283) and second in hit by pitch (46). Senior Sam Armstrong led the charge in the doubles category with 11 last season, the most among returning Dolphins. He also belted a team-best 10 home runs as the Ocala, Fla. native looks to provide more of the same firepower this year. Angel Camacho earned ASUN Preseason All-Conference recognition after hitting .299 with six homers and 34 RBIs. His .433 slugging percentage ranked third on the team.
The pitching staff will look a little different this season after the Dolphins lost starter Michael Baumann to the MLB Draft. Chris Gau has the most starts among returners with 13 last season. He pitched 75.0 innings and struck out 68 batters, while recording a 3.96 ERA. The bullpen looks to be solidified as all four players who recorded at least three saves last year are back. Spencer Stockton led the team with six saves thanks to 41 strikeouts in 38.2 innings of work.
The Dolphins' schedule once again will feature several high profile in-state contests as they take on Florida State, Florida, UCF and South Florida. Jacksonville opens the season with a three-game series against West Virginia on opening weekend. Coming off back-to-back 30-win seasons, Jacksonville hopes to continue that trend in 2018.
Jacksonville Team Quick Facts
2017 Record: 36-24 (16-5)
Best Single-Season Record in ASUN: 43-19; (23-7) - 2006
ASUN Championships: 1999, 2003, 2007, 2009
ASUN Regular Season Titles: 2006, 2017
NCAA Appearances: 14 (Seven as member of ASUN; 1999, 2001, 2003, 2006-07, 2009, 2011)
2018 Season Notes: The Dolphins are coming off back-to-back 30-win seasons for the first time since 2006-07 and look to continue that trend this year. They return five of their top-six hitters from a season ago, while looking at some new arms in the pitching rotation.
Season Opener: vs. West Virginia; 2/16/18 - 6 PM
ASUN Opener: vs. North Florida; 3/29/18 - 7 PM
ASUN Road Opener: at Lipscomb; 4/6/18 - 6 PM
Head Coach: Chris Hayes
Career Record (Years): 161-137-1 (Seventh Year)
Jacksonville Record (Years): 36-24 (Second Year)
Staff: Rich Wallace, Mark Guerra, Ryan Quintero, Scott Wingo, Bo Owens, Tim Boeni
- Dakota Julylia, Jr., INF: A mainstay in the Dolphins lineup after making 52 starts in 54 appearances overall for the Dolphins. He recorded 43 hits, with nine doubles and one triple in 2017. The Lake Worth, Fla. native drove in 16 runs, while scoring 26 and drawing 16 walks last season. Defensively, he turned 27 double plays and finished with a .950 fielding percentage.
- Sam Armstrong, Sr., INF: One of the biggest power bats in the league, Armstrong finished the season with 10 homers, which ranked fourth in the conference. Five of his 10 bombs came in ASUN play, while he also led the team in triples with two, slugging percentage (.514) and walks (34). Finished 2017 with 15 multi-hit games and ranked ninth in the ASUN with 41 RBI.
- Angel Camacho, Jr., INF: Camacho was Jacksonville's lone honoree on the ASUN Preseason All-Conference squad this season after an outstanding sophomore campaign last year. A two-time Player of the Week, Camacho started 47 of 50 games in 2017. He hit .299 and had 14 extra-base hits. Finished with 34 RBIs and 34 runs scored, while also featuring a team-high 18-game hitting streak during the season.
Top Returning Pitchers
- Chris Gau, Jr., RHP: A 2017 ASUN All-Tournament Team selection, Gau started in all 13 of his appearances last season. He finished with a 2-4 mark, but posted a solid ERA at 3.95. Gau finished with 69 strikeouts while only allowing 16 walks, the sixth-best walks allowed per nine innings mark in school history. He pitched a career-high 8.0 innings in three separate starts, including in the ASUN Championship against FGCU.
- Spencer Stockton, Sr., RHP: Stockton was one of the top relievers in the ASUN last season as he finished with a team-high six saves for the Dolphins. Four of those six saves came in ASUN play, which was the most in the league. He pitched 38.2 innings in 26 appearances, all out of the bullpen. Stockton struck out 41 batters and was a 2017 Second Team All-Conference selection.
- Tyler Santana, So., RHP: Santana had an outstanding freshman campaign for the Dolphins that resulted in selection to the ASUN All-Freshman Team. He pitched in 27 games, all out of the bullpen for the Dolphins last season. He finished with a 4-2 record and posted a 2.70 ERA. Santana struck out 29 batters in 30.0 innings of work, while also picking up three saves. He earned his first collegiate win against No. 2 Florida, the eventual College World Series Champions.
- Trent Palmer, Fr., RHP: The Ramsey, Minn. native was a2016 NorthWest Suburban Co-Conference Champion. He led his club team, East Metro, to an impressive 94-7 mark over a seven year span. The 6'2'' righty was the sixth-highest ranked right-handed pitcher in the state of Minnesota by Perfect Game. He also earned 2017 Rawlings-Perfect Game Honorable Mention All-American and looks to make an immediate impact on the Dolphins pitching staff.