Entering Friday’s match-up dropping its previous two games, Temple (10-15, 2-5 Atlantic 10) lost its third straight game as La Salle (10-16, 5-2 A-10) defeated the Owls 4-3 at Skip Wilson Field.
Throughout the game, the Owls found themselves trying to play catch up to the Explorers. Two La Salle leads were erased throughout the contest, but it was the Explorers that came out on top Friday with one run in the ninth that proved to be the deciding factor.
In the top of the first inning, the Explorers grabbed the early 1-0 lead as a single from sophomore first baseman Mark Williams scored senior third baseman Dan Klem, who reached on leadoff single. Owls’ starting pitcher Patrick Peterson would escape the first inning allowing only one run.
Entering the bottom of the second inning trailing by one run, the Owls responded with a run of their own, tying the game 1-1. With two outs, a single from junior catcher Andrew Nist scored redshirt-senior designated hitter Matt Elko, who singled to lead off the bottom of the second.
With the game tied at the completion of the third inning, the La Salle offense scored two runs in the top of the fourth inning. With no outs in the inning and runners on second and third, sophomore left fielder Rob Friskey bunted for a single, scoring redshirt-sophomore catcher Ryan Welling. A fly-out to centerfield from Klem with one out scored junior centerfielder George Smith, Jr. who reached on a double with no outs. At the end of the top of the third inning, the Explorers led the Owls 3-1.
The Owls moved within one run of the Explorers in the bottom of the sixth inning as a single up the middle from Nist scoring Elko. This was Nist’s second RBI single of the day and the second run scored for Elko. At the end of the sixth, Temple trailed La Salle 3-2.
“I was just really focused at the plate today and I was just up there trying to have good at-bats,” Nist said.
Entering the top half of the eighth inning, Wheeler removed Peterson for freshman pitcher Tim McCarthy. Peterson finished the afternoon with 7.0 innings pitched allowing three runs on seven hits while recording one walk and six strikeouts.
Trailing by one run, the Owls tied the game 3-3 in the bottom of the eighth inning. After reaching base for the fourth time in the game on an error, Nist found himself on third base with one out. Freshman infielder Sean Arnott pinch ran for Nist and scored the game tying run as a single from senior second baseman Jordan Queja tied the game.
After fighting their way back to tie the game in the bottom of the eighth, the Owls surrendered the game winning run in the top of the ninth inning. A two-out single down the left field line scored freshman second baseman Collin McGowan. La Salle entered the bottom of the ninth inning with senior pitcher Pat Christensen on the mound, who also pitched the seventh and eighth innings for the Explorers.
Despite a leadoff double to begin the inning from senior third baseman Henry Knabe, the Owls were unable to score the game tying run, giving La Salle its fifth conference win of the season.
With 2.0 innings pitched allowing one run on three hits, McCarthy was dealt with the loss. The freshman right-handed pitcher added one strikeout and no walks in his fifth appearance of the season. McCarthy is now 1-1 with a 3.60 ERA in 2013.
In the loss, the Owls out-hit La Salle 12 to 10 despite falling by one run. Temple was led offensively by Knabe and Nist, who had six of Temple’s 12 hits on the day.
Temple will host La Salle on Saturday in the second game of a three-game series at 1:00 p.m. at Skip Wilson Field. The Owls will be in search of their third conference win of this season and second win of 2013 against a Philadelphia Big 5 opponent.
“We just have to respond tomorrow in a positive way,” Nist said. “You can’t win every one of them.”
John Murrow can be reached at email@example.com or Twitter @JohnMurrow12.