After dropping the first two games of the weekend series, Temple (8-11, 1-2 Atlantic 10 Conference) defeated St. Joseph’s University (10-12, 2-1 A-10) 11-1 at Skip Wilson Field on Sunday.
The Owls were able to earn their first A-10 conference win of the season behind a strong pitching performance by redshirt-senior starting pitcher Dan Moller. Along with the help of the bullpen, at least one run in each of the first six innings and scoring in seven out of eight chances gave the Owls their largest win of the 2013 season.
“It’s great,” redshirt-junior centerfielder David Hall said about the team’s first conference win. “I have been here for a long time and getting off to a good start in the conference is big for us.”
The Hawks took the early 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning as a one-out single from senior Stefan Kancylarz scored junior Kevin Kratochwill, who reached on a leadoff double. The first inning run would be St. Joe’s only run of the contest.
In the bottom half of the first, Temple had the bases loaded with no outs. The Owls were able to produce two runs as singles from red shirt-senior designated hitter Matt Elko and Hall gave Temple the 2-1 lead.
After a two-run first inning, the Owls added their third run of the game as a sacrifice fly from senior third baseman Henry Knabe scored freshman catcher Michael D’Acunti, who reached on a leadoff hit by pitch. Temple entered the top of the third leading St. Joseph’s 3-1.
In the bottom of the third inning, the Owls extended their lead over the Hawks to 4-1 as a groundout to second base from junior right-fielder Bobby Heitzman scored Elko, who reached on a leadoff single to center field.
For the third consecutive inning, Temple put together a one run inning in the bottom of the fourth inning. A Knabe single to center field scored senior second baseman Jordan Queja who reached on a leadoff hit by pitch. With nine hits at the completion of the fourth inning, the Owls led the Hawks by a score of 5-1.
In the fifth inning, the Owls batted around to add four more runs. With two outs, Temple recorded four consecutive walks, scoring senior left-fielder Allen Stiles and D’Acunti. Following a Knabe walk, junior first baseman Derek Peterson singled to left field, scoring Queja and sophomore shortstop Nick Lustrino, giving Temple the 9-1 lead.
“That’s the kind of team we can be,” Hall said. “As long as we can keep moving runners over and hitting in the right situation, we will be successful.”
After allowing one run on two hits in the first inning, Moller settled in to control the St. Joe’s offense. Moller finished the day with five innings pitched, allowing one run on five hits while recording two strikeouts and three walks while earning his first win of the season.
“It feels great,” Moller said about earning his first win of 2013. “I just wanted to come out and really prove something. It was a must win game for us and we came out with the fire and energy that we should come out with every day. I was just really focused on attacking the hitters and going right after them today.”
While the Hawks’ offense struggled to put a run on the scoreboard, the Owls did not. For the sixth consecutive inning, Temple added a run as junior right-fielder Bobby Heitzman singled to center field, scoring Hall, who tripled to center field with one out in the bottom of the sixth. Temple entered the top of the seventh inning leading 10-1.
In the bottom of the eighth inning, the Owls added their final run of the game extending their lead to 11-1 as a Heitzman sac-fly scored Hall who reached on a one-out triple to left field. The 10 run lead would prove to be enough as redshirt-senior pitcher Steve Visnic closed the door on the Hawks’ offense in the top of the ninth.
On the day, five Owls’ pitchers combined to allow one run on six hits, while recording five walks and five strikeouts as a staff. The Temple offense hit for 13 singles and two triples while forcing seven walks in the 11 run offensive rout.
“If I had that answer, I would bottle it and sell it,” Wheeler said as to what caused the Owls’ offensive outburst. “The players decide it and they earned it. They were focused and wanted to make a statement to show that they are not the Temple team of old and when they put their minds to it, they can play with any team in the country.”
Temple will look to earn its second win in a row when they face Lehigh for the second time this season on Tuesday, March 26 at Skip Wilson Field at 3 p.m. In their first meeting in Bethlehem, Pa., the Owls defeated the Mountain Hawks 11-8 on Wednesday, March 20.
“You can talk about things, but you have to come out and prove things on the field,” Wheeler said. “I knew this club was good and were playing good baseball at times, but you need to be able to put it together on the field and we did that today.”
John Murrow can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JohnPMurrow.