Temple’s baseball team, despite a rough start, knows its season is far from over.
“These kids believe that they can’t be beat,” said manager Skip Wilson, and it showed this past weekend.
For the Owls (9-13, A-10 3-3), three out of their last four games have been won with final inning heroics.
The first was against Saint Joseph’s at Veterans Stadium, where right fielder Pete Colon hit a double in the top of the ninth, knocking in three runs to win the Liberty Bell Classic last week.
It was Temple’s third Liberty Bell Classic title.
Temple hosted Dayton in a doubleheader last weekend at Erny Field.
Justin Mendek allowed only one run in five innings in the second game, which was good enough for the Owls hitting to take care of the rest.
Temple was able to get some heavy wood on the ball in the final game against Dayton, beating the Flyers last Sunday, 11-6, to sweep the series.
Temple came back against the Flyers in the ninth inning of the first game, with clutch hits from shortstop Jason Connor, catcher Jeff Roma, and Colon, who again brought home the winning run.
The Owls also received a solid outing from senior pitcher Matt Powell.
Powell retired the last 18 of 20 batters he faced, and has been Temple’s most consistent pitcher.
These past few games have been close, a little too close for Wilson, who jokingly said that these late rallies can’t be good for his old heart.
It seems like a tendency for the Owls, who have won six straight, to start off slow, then pull a full 360-degrees in the latter half of the game.
The Owls pitching and hitting have been struggling in the beginning of games.
With only a few steady starters in the rotation, Wilson projected that in the near future he will begin to send some of the younger guys to the mound.
Even though the Owls do start off shaky, they appear to be able to flick on the switch when necessary.
Timely hitting and help from the bullpen have kept the Owls in most games.
“We’re at the point of the season, when if one of our pitchers can hold a team to a few runs, we’re confident that our offense will get as many runs as we need to win,” said second baseman Fred Hilliard, who sliced a game winning RBI single against Dayton on Saturday.
Temple relies on a simple cycle, whereas the pitchers determine the pace of the game, the batters follow their lead and if the hitting gets the Owls out of hole, the pitchers keep them from digging another.
“The guys on this team feed off each other,” Hilliard said. “We have great chemistry.”
One reliever who has been able to trigger a spark on the team has been sophomore Chris Kurtz, who was recently named Atlantic 10 Conference Pitcher of the Week.
With his dominant pitching on the mound, the Owls were able to relax and focus on getting the runs they needed.
Now is when those tough non-conference games help Temple make those late rallies.
The Owls are now at .500 in the A-10 and currently own a six-game winning streak.
The more this team plays, the more they’re convinced they can play with anyone.
Temple travels St. Joe’s this weekend in hopes of continuing its longest winning streak of the season.
Anthony Hood can be reached at Hoody215@aol.com