Although Tuesday’s game did not have conference significance for the Owls, Temple (15-20, 5-10 Atlantic 10 Conference) did not take Villanova (10-29) lightly as the Owls defeated the Wildcats 8-4.
Following a relatively speedy first three innings in which Temple and Villanova were locked 1-1, the Owls jumped on the Wildcats for six runs in the bottom of the fourth, a lead that would hold for the remainder of the contest.
The six-run inning began with an infield single from senior third baseman Henry Knabe, who later scored the inning’s first run as red shirt-senior Matt Elko doubled to left-center. With two outs in the bottom half of the fourth, the Owls offense exploded for four consecutive hits headlined by an RBI double from junior left fielder Bobby Heitzman, which scored junior first baseman Derek Peterson. At the end of the fourth inning, Temple led Villanova 7-1.
“It was obviously one of our biggest offensive outbursts of the season so it was good to see,” coach Ryan Wheeler said. “We had a long talk about our offense and approach and different things we wanted to do before the game and it was nice to see that transfer into the game.”
Tuesday’s game also marked the first collegiate start for freshman pitcher Connor Staskey and the left-handed pitcher impressed. Staskey pitched three innings allowing no runs and just one hit while recording two walks and two strikeouts. Redshirt-sophomore pitcher Zach White replaced Staskey in the top of the fourth inning.
Trailing by six runs, the Wildcats’ offense made their attempt at a comeback with a run in both the top of the fifth and sixth innings. Villanova added its fourth run of the contest in the top of the eighth inning as senior center fielder Paul Rambaud doubled to right field, scoring freshman third baseman Kevin Jewitt. Entering the bottom of the eighth, the Wildcats trailed the Owls 7-4.
In the bottom of the eighth, Temple added an insurance run to increase its lead to 8-4. A sacrifice fly from senior second baseman Elijah Yarborough scored sophomore shortstop Nick Lustrino, who reached on a fielder’s choice.
Redshirt-junior pitcher Ryan Kuehn entered in the top of the ninth inning for the Owls. After two quick outs recorded, Kuehn allowed three-straight singles, loading the bases for the Wildcats. But Villanova was unable to capitalize on the opportunity as Kuehn recorded the game’s final out on a popup.
“It is always good to beat local guys for bragging rights,” Wheeler said. “No matter what, a win is a win.”
With the win, Temple snapped its three-game losing streak, while Villanova lost its eighth game in its last nine meetings.
Temple will be back in action tomorrow at Skip Wilson Field as they host George Mason at 3:00 p.m. Wheeler has named junior pitcher Preston Hill his starter on the mound for the Owls and added that he will continue to play around with the lineup for Wednesday’s game before Temple resumes conference play on Friday against UNC Charlotte.
John Murrow can be reached at email@example.com or Twitter @JohnMurrow12.