This was not the kind of start to the Atlantic Ten Conference schedule the baseball team had in mind.
Temple split its doubleheader with visiting
Massachusetts Sunday at Skip Wilson Field, but lost the three-game series, as they
also dropped Friday’s opener at La Salle’s
Hank DeVincent Field.
A two-out, ninth inning rally Sunday gave
Massachusetts a 3-2 win in Game 1.
The Owls salvaged the series’ final game,
thanks to a six-run third inning, as they took Game 2 by the score of 9-7.
Staff ace Tom Dolan was once again spectacular. The junior began the ninth inning with a 2-1 lead, his only blemish a solo home run surrendered to UMass first baseman Bryan Adamski.
Despite pitching out of trouble in previous
innings, the hard-throwing lefthander was
kept in by coach Rob Valli.
“We’ve got a good relationship with [our
veteran pitchers], so they’re able to give us an honest answer [on how their arm feels],” Valli said. “And we trust that they do.”
With a runner at second and two outs,
the game was on the line as UMass shortstop
Lou Proietti stepped to the plate. After the count ran full, Proietti socked a fastball over the head of diving leftfielder Jamie Abercrombie, plating the tying run.
That was the end of the line for Dolan, who took the loss, as he was replaced by reliever Matt Blackburn.
“Sometimes you make a good pitch, but they get a better swing at it,” Dolan said. “But that’s baseball. We were battling back and forth, and it came down to one pitch, and you’ve just got to tip your hat.” Blackburn got infielder Adam Tempesta to loft a seemingly catchable fly ball to Abercrombie
in left, but he misplayed it and the winning run scored. For Temple, Matt Heltz, Carmen Del Mastro and Kyle Obal went down in order in the bottom of the inning, as the Minutemen (4-7 overall, 2-1 A-10) prevailed.
The second game had a happier outcome
for the Owls.Heltz, a light-hitting infielder, had a two run single in the Owls’ six-run third inning and centerfielder Stan Orzechowski knocked in three runs as the Owls (6-13, 1-2) took the back end of the double-dip.Starter Matt Mongiardini picked up the win and went seven strong innings, even though he gave up four runs in UMass’ half of the fifth inning.
“I had a couple of guys [in] 0-2, 1-2 [counts],” he said. “It kind of ruined my stamina and my momentum, but my defense picked me up big-time today. The Owls added some late insurance runs to secure the win, as relievers Richie Gargel and Blackburn, who earned the save, wrapped up the game.
The Owls are back in action Tuesday against Delaware in the opening round of the Liberty Bell Classic, their second of four meetings with the Blue Hens. The Owls next conference home series isn’t until the end of April, when they take on Xavier.
Friday’s game started at 10 a.m. and was moved to La Salle’s campus because the conditions were unplayable at Skip Wilson Field. . . .
Sunday’s doubleheader also started at 10 a.m., as Temple had to postpone Saturday’s game because the conditions at Skip Wilson Field were still considered unplayable. . .
Injured senior Dan Brady, who leads the team in batting average, remains out of the lineup due to a mild knee sprain he suffered in a collision last week. Valli said he is expected to return this weekend against La Salle.
Todd Orodenker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.