It was a tough afternoon for Temple, who dropped both games of a two-game doubleheader on Friday to UMass.
The underdog Minutemen entered Ambler campus winners of 12 games in 2013, but behind timely offense against the Owls’ pitching staff and strong pitching performances, UMass earned two Atlantic-10 conference wins against Temple.
The Owls dropped the first game at 12:00 p.m. by a score of 4-3 and fell in the second game of the doubleheader 6-3.
UMass defeated Temple behind four Minutemen runs and despite a late comeback from the Owls’ offense, it was not enough as they dropped the conference matchup.
Coach Ryan Wheeler sent sophomore pitcher Patrick Peterson to the mound as he was in search of his third win of the season. The left-handed pitcher held UMass quiet through the first three innings of the contest, but the Minutemen adjusted to Peterson in the top of the fourth.
Following two quick outs to start the inning, Peterson allowed four consecutive singles which scored two UMass’ runs. At the end of the top of the fourth, the Minutemen led the Owls 2-0.
The Minutemen sent sophomore pitcher Conor LeBlanc to the mound for game one and the left-handed pitcher was able to control a struggling Owls’ offense. Through six innings of work, LeBlanc held Temple to one hit and no runs.
In the top of the seventh, UMass scored two more runs off of Peterson, leading to the exit of the sophomore pitcher. A throwing error from Owls’ third baseman Henry Knabe allowed the inning’s first run to score and a two-out single from junior second baseman Rob McLam allowed freshman shortstop Vinny Scifo to score, giving the Minutemen the 4-0 lead.
Peterson finished the afternoon with 6.2 innings pitched allowing four runs (two earned) on eight hits while adding one walk and two strikeouts. Sophomore pitcher Adam Dian replaced Peterson in the top of the seventh. With the loss, Peterson fell to (2-7) on the year.
Trailing by four entering the bottom of the seventh, the Owls offense made their first dent in the Minutemen lead. Three straight singles to lead off the seventh including a single up the middle from junior first baseman Derek Peterson scored Knabe. Redshirt-senior catcher Matt Elko scored the second run of the bottom of the seventh as a fielding error from UMass right fielder allowed the Owls to shrink the deficit to 4-2.
After a scoreless eighth inning, the Owls kept the Minutemen off the board in the top of the ninth with redshirt-senior Zach Batchelor on the mound. In the bottom of the ninth trailing by two runs, Elko sent a double to left field to lead off the inning. Following a groundout, Nist sent a ground ball to second base, allowing senior pinch runner Jordan Queja to score. With one out remaining, UMass senior closer Jordan Pace forced a groundout from sophomore shortstop Nick Lustrino to end game one and seal the 4-3 victory.
In the second game of the afternoon, the Minutemen took little time to adjust to sophomore pitcher Eric Peterson as the handed the right-handed pitcher was handed his third loss of the season in the 6-3 UMass victory.
In the top of the first inning, five hits scored three UMass runs, headlined by a RBI double by McLam with no outs in the inning. At the completion of the top of the first, the Owls trailed the Minutemen 3-0.
After a scoreless top of the second, Lustrino sent a double to left center which allowed D. Peterson and Elko to score. Temple trailed UMass 3-2 at the end of the second inning.
With each team scoring a run in the third inning, the Owls offense would be unable to score for the remaining six innings.
In the top of the fifth inning, Peterson was replaced by junior pitcher Matt Hockenberry with two outs in the inning.
Peterson finished the afternoon with 4.2 innings pitched allowing five runs on 12 hits and adding one walk and three strikeouts.
On the first batter faced in the top of the fifth, Hockenberry threw a failed pickoff attempt to first base, resulting in an error which allowed for junior rightfielder Kellen Pagel to score.
The Minutemen tacked on their final run of the afternoon as a run in the top of the seventh inning allowed UMass to take the 6-3 lead and the eventual final score.
With two losses on the day, the Owls fall to 18-27 (7-16 A-10) while the Minutemen improved to 14-31 on the season.
Temple and UMass will return to action on Saturday when they host the Minutemen in the final game of the three-game series. Saturday will also mark the completion of the 2013 season as the Owls failed to qualify for the A-10 tournament.