It was a good weekend for Temple Baseball. The Owls (11-13, 5-4) broke out their seldom-used broom and swept away the LaSalle Explorers by scores of 9-2, 9-8, and 14-6. Temple raised itself to the second place slot in the Atlantic 10 Eastern Division and also gave itself a winning conference record.
The Owls started quickly with their bats. In the first inning of the last game of their three-game home stand, senior Keith Ramsey scored after senior Joseph Lyall slapped a line drive triple into the right center field gap. Senior first baseman Sam Sabolchick singled Lyall in to give Temple a 2-0 edge.
Through the first three innings, Temple’s starting pitcher Alan Birnbrauer all but dominated LaSalle’s bats. In the fourth inning, Explorer Brian Oakes spoiled Birnbrauer’s dominance with a homerun to left center. The Explorers kept chipping away at the Owls lead, and eventually tied the game in the sixth inning at 5-5.
With two outs in the seventh inning and the game in a dead heat, Temple erupted, scoring eight consecutive runs. When LaSalle came to bat in the top of the eighth inning, junior right-hander Matt Powell came in for relief and stopped any hopes of a comeback for the Explorers.
Effective hitting was not the only reason Temple was successful. The left side of the infield played at a high level during the entire game. Freshman third baseman Jerome Lopez and freshman shortstop Mike Weckenmen made acrobatic plays all afternoon.
“[Lopez is] a hell of a player, and our shortstop isn’t too bad himself,” said Temple coach Skip Wilson, “and they are only freshmen.”
This is a crucial point in the season for the Owls. They showed heart by withstanding two late rallies by the Explorers in the last two games. However, there are many more games to be played against tougher opponents.
To continue their success, the starting pitching must become more consistent. Their pitching was not the reason they won three games this weekend. (LaSalle scored an average of six runs against the Owls in three games.) Instead, their hitting was the reason they were able to come out victorious this weekend.
Against Delaware last Tuesday the Temple pitching staff surrendered four home runs in a 15-1 rout by the Blue Hens. The game was called in the eighth inning due to rain.
That game was just a preview of next Tuesday’s Liberty Bell Classic final against Delaware at Veterans Stadium at 5 p.m.
Now that Temple has a winning record in the early stages of their A-10 campaign, which teams must they look at as formidable opponents?
“All of them,” Wilson said. “We can’t look past anyone, especially with the injuries we have. Coming into the season, I had different players playing shortstop and first base. Those positions are being filled nicely, but injuries can come at any time and affect the chemistry of a team.”
Andrew Monaghan can be reached at ACTMONO@aol.com