The team has won six-straight home games during its recent non-conference surge.
After trailing 5-0 in the second inning to St. Peter’s on Sunday, the baseball team responded by scoring nine-unanswered runs over five frames and went onto an 11-7 victory to extend its winning streak to nine games.
The 12-5 baseball team is off to its best start since 1984, and the Owls remain undefeated at home, having won six-straight games at Skip Wilson Field. The Cherry and White took wins against four other opponents last week, including Iona, 5-4, Big 5 rival Penn, 14-3, Fairfield, 9-0, and New York Tech, 14-4.
“Momentum is always a powerful thing,” coach Rob Valli said. “We have very good momentum going into our last week before conference.”
Freshman pitcher Matt Hockenberry (3-1) received the win against the Peacocks going four innings and allowing four earned runs. Redshirt-junior third baseman Steve Nikorak pitched five innings in relief for the save and struck out three batters and allowed two earned runs.
The offense provided two extra runs in support during the eighth inning to extend a two-run lead and make it the ninth double-digit run game of the season. Senior outfielders Byron McKoy and Ryan Ferguson, along with junior outfielder Jabair Khan, all batted in three runs each.
Ferguson went 2-for-5 with a double and a run scored to keep his own streak alive of at least one hit in every game this season. The co-captain said the team has been working on playing small ball by making sure batters move runners into scoring position.
“The important thing to do is just keep it rolling and keep the good things going,” Ferguson said.
Thus far, the squad has outscored opponents by an average of nearly 4.5 runs per game. Early season production has been aided by the Owls’ senior-heavy lineup, as Ferguson leads the team with 32 hits and 26 RBIs, while senior shortstop Adrian Perez (32 hits, 22 RBIs) and McKoy (30 hits, 16 RBIs) have both made contributions.
Last Friday, senior pitcher Ben White (3-2) was close to a no-hit game until the seventh inning when he surrendered Fairfield’s lone hit of the game. The senior completed the game on the mound, posting three strikeouts and allowing one walk.
Looking ahead to the conference opener with Xavier, Valli said the team will need to continue to rely on its seniors during the three-game series.
“The outcome of the games in our league for a lot of reasons is dominated by senior performances,” Valli said. “[The seniors] have done an excellent job for us up until this point, and [the team] will continue to lean upon their toughness, their experience, their maturity – all those things that have really benefited them so far.”
Temple will hit the road against Monmouth today before traveling to Cincinnati to open conference play with Xavier on Friday for a three-game series.
“We’re excited to start conference play,” Ferguson said. “[Xavier] is going to be another good team, but I think we’re playing great baseball right now and competing real well.”
Connor Showalter can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.