Baseball struggles in its first two Atlantic Ten series

Temple lost two of its three games against last year’s A-10 runner up Rhode Island and was swept by Dayton this past weekend at Ambler.

Temple lost two of its three games against last year’s A-10 runner up Rhode Island and was swept by Dayton this past weekend at Ambler.

The Temple baseball team wrapped up its second Atlantic Ten Conference series of the season last Sunday against Dayton with a 13-3 loss. Five of the team’s last six home games against A-10 opponents ended with the same result. The Owls dropped to 3-19 overall and 1-5 in the conference.

The Owls began their A-10 slate against Rhode Island, the runner up in last year’s conference championship game. The Rams won two of their three games against the Owls from March 26-28.

In Game 1, redshirt senior pitcher Matt Mongiardini pitched 7 and two-thirds innings, allowing six hits and three earned runs. But the Owls struggled to generate runs and left five runners on base. Temple lost, 4-1, and Mongiardini’s record dropped to 0-6 on the season.

Game 2 began more optimistically, as the offense posted a five-run third inning for a 5-1 lead. Junior shortstop Adrian Perez hit a two-run single, and junior catcher Ryan Ferguson knocked in another run before sophomore designated hitter Taylor Juran finished off the frame with the fifth run.

But the Owls could not muster any more scoring, and the Rams capitalized on six Temple errors to win the game, 7-5.

“We didn’t click on all cylinders,” said junior pitcher Ben White, who pitched 6 and two-thirds innings and gave up four runs in Game 2.

“We had a good inning where we hit. We had a good inning where we pitched. We had a good fielding inning, but it wasn’t all working together,” White added.

The Owls won Game 3 to avoid the sweep. Redshirt sophomore pitcher Steve Nikorak pitched five innings and struck out five batters in the 8-4 win, his first this season.

Temple came up with 14 hits. Ferguson had two doubles and a triple. Senior second baseman Tony Jusino went 3-for-5 with a pair of doubles. Freshman David Hall hit a two-run home run in the eighth inning to put the game away.

The second series belonged to Dayton. The Flyers overpowered the Owls at the plate and outscored them, 43-16, in the three-game series. Mongiardini lasted only three innings and gave up 10 earned runs in Game 1. Nikorak struggled in Game 3. He allowed five earned runs in three innings before being taken out of the game.

“Our pitching staff as a whole just hasn’t been consistent,” coach Rob Valli said. “Out of some of our pitchers, we get a good start, then a bad start. Then out of our bullpen, I’m fairly confident in our seniors [Matt] Blackburn and [Ryan] Thomas.”

“To be honest, we need [sophomore Dan] Moller, who was one of our key pitchers last year, to get back on track,” Valli added.

In the 25-11 Game 1 loss to Dayton, the Owls’ bats were led by Jusino, who hit two home runs, and Ferguson, who went 5-for-5 at the plate with three RBIs.

White’s pitching was a bright spot in Game 2, a 5-2 Dayton win. White kept the game close through eight innings. He struck out 13 batters and allowed just three earned runs but ended up with the loss.

“We can play with any team,” White said. “I think we can still take that away from every game we’ve played so far. We’re playing good baseball, and we’re going to pick it up right now. There’s only one way to go from here, and that’s up.”

The Owls were once again plagued by fielding errors in Game 3’s 13-3 loss. Temple committed four of them. Relief pitching was also an issue, as Valli had to use four pitchers to close out the game.
“Every loss is a learning experience,” pitching coach Chuck Ristano said. “I have a lot of expectations for this team, and right now, all we can ask is to make sure we continue to work as hard as we possibly can to get some more wins.”

The Owls will start play in the Liberty Bell Classic today against Lehigh at Skip Wilson Field at 3 p.m.

Connor Showalter can be reached at

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