For the first time since 2003, the baseball team started its home schedule on the right foot. An eighth-inning comeback in Game 1 of a doubleheader against Buffalo, followed by a dominant pitching performance from junior Tom Dolan in Game 2 ignited the Owls to a sweep of the Bulls at Skip Wilson Field Sunday.
In the opening game, Temple (4-9) got two runs in the bottom of the eighth inning off of Buffalo (1-8) reliever Zach Anderson to lift them to an exciting 6-5 win.
After designated hitter Lenny DelGrippo led off the inning with a single, right fielder Sean Barksdale plated pinch runner Carmen Del Mastro with a double to leftfield.
Left fielder Devon Swope then advanced Barksdale to third base with a groundout, but second baseman Matt Heltz struck out, taking away the opportunity for a sacrifice
This brought up pinch hitter Jamie Abercrombie, who promptly singled home the winning run. Coach Rob Valli said the late-inning rally was desperately
needed by the slumping Owls.
“We’ve come back, even in some games we’ve lost,” Valli said. “The more we do it, the more confidence we’ll have.”
Things didn’t look too good once the Owls jumped out to a 4-0 lead. After cruising for four innings, starting pitcher Arshwin Asjes ran into trouble in the fifth and sixth. He surrendered three runs, before reliever Matt Mongiardini replaced him and finished out the game, giving up two unearned runs.
“My first four innings I had a pretty good rhythm going on,” Asjes said. “Then they scored a run in the fifth, which kind of took a little out of me.”
Mongiardini won his first game of the year in his 3.2 innings of work. But for Asjes, the focus was still on his performance that hit at a wall in the fifth inning.
“I don’t really know [what happened],” he said. “I don’t want to say [it was because of] a lack of focus.”
The second game had far less drama.Behind eight shutout innings from junior ace Tom Dolan, the Owls cruised to an easy 9-0 win.
Barksdale’s triple in the third inning knocked in two runs, and that was all Dolan needed as he shut down the Buffalo lineup.
“Basically, the off-speed [pitches were] working a little bit,” Dolan said. “And my fastball just took over. I just tried to get quick outs.”
Despite pitching his best game of the season, Dolan said his gameplan and attack were the same as normal. He gave up seven hits and notched two strikeouts.
“Nothing was different at all,” he said. “I just went after people and tried to get outs real quick.”
A five-run eighth inning was more than enough insurance, as seven of the first nine hitters reached base. Relief pitcher Matt Blackburn pitched a perfect ninth inning, sealing the victory for the Owls.
After eleven road games to start the season, Valli said he hopes being at home, and not playing powerhouses like Duke and North Carolina, will yield better results on the field.
“We’ll start to have some momentum now and start to play better,” he said. “Or when we play well, we’ll see the reward of it.”
The Owls play Wednesday against city-rival Penn, and return home Friday to battle Binghamton, which kicks off a weekend set that also features Iona and Long Island.
NOTES:Due to travel difficulties for Buffalo, Friday’s game was moved to a Saturday doubleheader.
Those two games were then postponed
because of unplayable field conditions, leading to a Sunday doubleheader and cancellation of the third game. . . .
In the doubleheader, Barksdale went 6-for-6 with three runs scored and four runs batted in.
Center fielder Stan Orzechowski went 1-for-9 and Heltz went 1-for-8. . . .
Dolan was named Big 5 Pitcher of the Week. The honor was Dolan’s second of the season. The left-hander pitched nine scoreless innings last week and improved his record to 2-1. His 2.25 earned run average is the lowest on the team.
Todd Orodenker can be reached at email@example.com.