On Wednesday, Temple (12-16, 3-6 Atlantic 10 Conference) defeated St. Peter’s (10-17) 9-7 at Skip Wilson Field.
Despite trailing for the first seven full innings, the Owls were able to put together a four-run bottom of the eighth inning that allowed Temple to earn its 12th victory of the season and its ninth victory against a non-conference opponent.
“The last couple days we have had a lot of talks,” Wheeler said. “We talked about visualizing doing something good, rather than something bad. Those talks seemed to work as we scratched and clawed our way back today and hopefully it is the start of something good.”
In the top of the first inning, St. Peter’s put Temple in an early 3-0 deficit. The inning was headlined by three Owls’ errors and two hits, allowing St. Peter’s to enter the bottom of the first with a three-run lead off of redshirt-sophomore starting pitcher Zach Batchelor.
Entering the bottom of the third still trailing by three, Temple was able to reduce the three-run lead to two. A sacrifice fly to right field from sophomore shortstop Nick Lustrino allowed redshirt-junior center fielder David Hall to score after reaching base on a leadoff single to left-center field. At the end of the third inning, Temple trailed St. Peter’s 3-1.
In the top halves of both the fourth and fifth innings, the Peacocks added a run in each inning, increasing their lead to 5-1 at the end of the top of the fifth inning. Trailing by four runs, freshman center fielder Jimmy Kerrigan tripled down the right field line, scoring senior third baseman Elijah Yarborough. Following a St. Peter’s pitching change, senior second baseman Jordan Queja flied out to left field, scoring Kerrigan. At the end of the fifth inning, the Peacocks led 5-3.
After a scoreless sixth inning for both teams, the two teams each added two runs in the seventh inning. The bottom of the seventh inning for the Owls was headlined by a Lustrino double that scored Queja followed by a St. Peter’s error that allowed senior designated hitter Henry Knabe to reach base and Lustrino to score. Despite the two run inning, the Owls still found themselves trailing by a score of 7-4 entering the top half of the eighth inning.
In the top of the eighth inning, freshman pitcher Tim McCarthy allowed a two-out single followed by back-to-back steals by freshman shortstop Jon Kristofferson. One batter later, a strikeout ended the threat to add another run for St. Peter’s.
Trailing by two runs, the Owls offense exploded in the bottom of the eighth inning. Two Temple hits, including Lustrino’s second double of the afternoon capped off the four-run inning for the Owls and gave them the 9-7 lead entering the top of the ninth inning.
“This week, I was working on my swing with our coaches and I was glad to see it pay off,” Lustrino said about his three-hit day.
Redshirt-junior Ryan Kuehn replaced McCarthy in the top of the ninth inning and set down St. Peter’s on three-straight groundouts, sealing the comeback victory for Temple.
“Lately, [Temple] had been losing games in the later innings and today it was nice to be on the other end of one of those victories,” coach Ryan Wheeler said.
In the win the Owls used six pitchers to earn their ninth conference victory of 2013. McCarthy earned his second win of his freshman campaign after pitching a scoreless top of the eighth inning. Sophomore shortstop led Temple at the plate, going 3-for-5 with two doubles and three RBI in the contest.
Temple will be back in action as the Owls travel to Richmond, VA for a three-game series against Virginia Commonwealth beginning on Friday at 6:00 p.m.
“Today, we finished very strong and that’s a good sign for us because all good teams close out games,” Lustrino said.
John Murrow can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or Twitter @JohnMurrow12.