An unlikely foe has plagued the Owls all season.
It is neither an Atlantic Ten opponent nor a non-conference rival. It is merely Mother Nature.
Having suffered through more than a dozen rainouts, Temple played through a steady downpour this weekend, and took two of three games from Saint Joseph’s.
The Owls split a doubleheader on Saturday, then on a drenched Ambler Field on Sunday they put on a hit parade to win the series.
Defeating Saint Joseph’s put the Owls (17-15, 6-6) back in contention for a postseason berth in the conference tournament with a little more than a quarter of the season remaining.
Senior outfielder John Quigley said the Owls must stay resilient through the conditions they have been dealt.
“It’s tough to play in weather like this because it’s just miserable,” Quigley said. “We need to go out and keep fighting.”
Despite a steady rain for nearly half the game on Sunday, the Owls looked strong out the gate. Coach Skip Wilson hoped they could play at least five innings to make the game official. The rain didn’t keep the Owls from pounding out 15 hits en route to a 16-6 win.
After dropping five straight last week, the Owls are trying to get back on a winning track; they have won three of their last four.
“At the beginning of the season we started playing sporadic,” Wilson said. “We would win one, lose one, win one, lose two. That’s us. We were playing well and we found the rain. We couldn’t do anything about it. We were forced to practice indoors, which doesn’t help at all.”
What has helped is the leadership and stellar play of the upperclassmen.
Quigley batted .300, with three runs and four RBI out of the leadoff spot during the series against the Hawks. Juniors Chris Kurtz and Tim Foulkrod each pitched complete games to earn wins.
But Wilison admitted that Temple’s 11-4 loss on Saturday was the focal point of the series. The Owls were held to just six singles, committed two errors, and struggled on the mound. Wilson resorted to the bullpen after just four innings of work from starter Justin Mendek.
“The worst game I can remember in a long time was that loss in the first game [of the doubleheader on Saturday],” Wilson said. “In the field, [my players] were dropping pop ups. I told them that if you can hit the ball on the ground, you can beat teams in this conference, especially St. Joe’s. There aren’t any bad bounces in the sky.”
To make a run at an A-10 tournament berth, Wilson said the Owls must play behind each other. He also acknowledged that inconsistency hasn’t helped their cause. Namely, Temple beat the University of Pennsylvania, but then dropped games to lowly University of the Sciences.
Just about as difficult as winning the conference title is earning a spot in the conference tournament. The top two teams from each division earn first-round byes, while the remaining four teams with the best records get in as wildcards.
If the playoff seeding were to begin today, the Owls would clinch a sixth seed. Still a month away, they have ample time to turn things around. Quigley doesn’t see a playoff berth too high of a hurdle for them to clear.
“It just feels good to get back to .500 in the A-10s,” he said. “We know where we stand. We just need to get into the playoffs because anything can happen after that.”
Christopher A. Vito can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.