It’s that time of the season again where spring meets summer and America’s national past time infiltrates baseball diamonds across the country. Skip Wilson’s Temple Owls (5-8, 2-1) have started their quest for an Atlantic 10 Championship repeat. The Owls are looking to make the road through Erny Field a tough one for all their opponents.
Temple advanced to the semifinals of the Liberty Bell Classic in a come-from-behind 10-6 win over Lehigh (12-7-1) yesterday at Veterans Stadium. The bullpen carried the team after junior pitcher Alan Birnbrauer surrendered four hits and three runs in the first inning. Junior Matt Powell struck out six in four innings of relief and senior Sam Sabolchick blasted a seventh inning homerun to tie the game 6-6.
But the annual spring trip to Orlando, Florida was a tough one for the Owls. The team left Orlando with a 2-7 record, achieving both victories over University of Pennsylvania. Each game was close in the final innings. As usual, the trip was an experience to play universities where baseball is center stage.
“Just having the opportunity to play teams like Central Florida was a great tune-up to the season,” freshman infielder Spencer Witty said. “Our record in Florida doesn’t reflect how well we played in many of the games.”
The Owls opened up their Atlantic 10 season this past week at Erny Field against the Duquesne Dukes. The Dukes traveled in for a three-game series that kicked off Saturday with a doubleheader.
The first game involved a flair for the dramatic. Trailing 15-7 in the final inning, the Owls roared back with nine runs, capped off by a two-out three-run homer by Joe Lyall to win the game. First baseman Sam Sabolchick had a “Ruthian” performance, driving in a career high seven runs with two three-run homers.
The second game of the doubleheader offered up another win for the Owls behind a strong performance by starter Mike Caron. Catcher Jeff Roma supplied the offense for the victors going 3-for-3 with a homerun.
The final game of the three-game set occurred Sunday with an outcome less favorable to the Owls. The Owls were defeated 9-3 while being held to just four hits on the day. The game remained a 2-2 battle into the eighth inning when the Dukes tallied two runs off Owl freshman reliever Bryan Stamm. Stamm managed to finally quell the attack by getting out of a first and third two-out jam, but fielding miscues by the Owls in the final inning sealed their fate. Dukes reliever Bob Reifschneider got the win pitching four hitless innings in relief.
“We average nine or 10 hits a game and we did a couple things offensively that shouldn’t have happened; the freshmen make mistakes,” Wilson said.
The Owls are full of excitement in 2002. Spencer Witty called this team, “A well rounded group on all facets that have the opportunity to do good things on any day.”
Still, the Owls must remain patient while the freshmen continue to develop.
“I just think we have to work on playing everyday and getting the freshmen used to doing what we want them to do,” Wilson said. “We have a freshman third baseman and a freshman shortstop because our shortstop is hurt. So it’s tough when you have freshmen out there and they just have to learn.”
Temple will face the winner of St. Joseph’s vs. University of Pennsylvania Tuesday at Veterans Stadium.
Doug Saylor can be reached at email@example.com