It did not seem likely that the Owls could come back from a 6-2 lead in the eighth inning, but a five-run eighth inning propelled Temple (17-24, 6-12 Atlantic 10) to a 7-6 defeat against Big 5 city-rival Villanova (11-33, 2-13) on Tuesday.
On the afternoon, both the Owls and Wildcats each had a five-run inning – Villanova’s coming in the bottom of the sixth and Temple’s in the top of the eighth. Temple was led by senior third baseman Henry Knabe, who had four RBIs on the day, three of which came in the eighth inning.
“It was good to see,” coach Ryan Wheeler said of the come from behind victory. “I know its deep into the season, but this would have been a tough loss for us. The team really showed me something today.”
After taking a 2-0 lead into the sixth inning with junior pitcher Matt Hockenberry on the mound, the Wildcats fought their way back in the contest. With one out in the inning and the bases loaded, senior second baseman Tyler Sciacca doubled to right center, scoring three runs and allowed Villanova to take a 5-2 lead.
In the bottom of the seventh, the Wildcats added their sixth and final run of the non-conference match up. With a 6-2 lead, Villanova was well on its way to earning its 12th win of the season.
But in the top of the eighth, the Owls’ offense exploded for a five-run inning of their own. A Knabe three-run double headlined the inning that gave Temple the eventual 7-6 lead and win.
“We had some great at bats in [the eighth inning],” Wheeler said. “Just exceptional hitting. [Knabe] came up very big with that double and that is what led us to the win today.”
In the victory, the Owls out-hit the Wildcats 11-7 in the contest and red shirt-senior pitcher Steve Visnic earned his first win of the season after allowing one run in one inning of work. For the Wildcats, Scicca led the team with a 1-for-3 day at the plate with one RBI.
Temple will be back in action on Friday at 3:00 p.m. as the Owls travel to Richmond for a three-game conference series with the Spiders. It will be the first time that Wheeler returns to the school he left for Temple in 2011.
“In some ways I am excited to see some people. In another sense I’m not looking forward to it,” Wheeler said about his return to Richmond. “I wish they weren’t in rotation at all to be honest. I don’t want my return to be about me, but about our guys.”
John Murrow can be reached at email@example.com or Twitter @JohnMurrow12.