What was set to be a big weekend for Temple baseball turned into a big wash out. Three of the Owls’ four games last week were cancelled due to heavy rainfall over Philadelphia.
Temple (3-5) was able to play game one of a scheduled double-header Friday at Skip Wilson Field before the weather turned for the worst.
The floodgates opened early for starter Tom Dolan (0-3) and the Owls who were manhandled by Wagner, 11-3, in a game that started at 11 a.m., the earliest home opener in school history.
The Owls, who were 39-9 in openers since 1960, couldn’t match Wagner’s offensive display of 13 hits, while Seahawks senior pitcher Joe Testa shut Temple down for seven innings, allowing only one run.
“It’s baseball,” coach Rob Valli said. “In a 56-game schedule you can’t just look at one game under the microscope. We played a bad game.”
The Owls committed five errors on the afternoon, which Valli said is hard for any team to stay in the game: “Defensively we never gave ourselves a chance to win.”
Temple was never able to start game two, which was moved from Saturday because of the expected showers. Despite pulling out the tarps, the field was in no condition for action for Sunday’s game versus Hartford.
Earlier in the week, the Owls did pick up their third victory of the season with a win over defending Big East Conference champion Rutgers, 9-5, Wednesday. The Owls rode the bats of senior Mike Kelch and junior Sean Barksdale on route to a season-high 13-hit attack against the Scarlet Knights.
Trailing 5-2 in the seventh inning, the Owls exploded for seven runs including a three-run home run from Kelch. Rutgers sent three pitchers to the mound in the inning but couldn’t stop 10 consecutive Owls from reaching base.
“It was a very good win in so many ways,” Valli said. “We need to show we can play with those teams and Wednesday we did that.”
Barksdale, who has struggled offensively in the early part of the season, added three hits of his own and two runs batted in.
Sophomore Matt Blackburn (1-0) worked one inning in relief for Owls starter Eric Fritz to earn the win.
Junior shortstop Mark Ortega added two hits of his own to raise his team high average to .360.
With the victory, Temple snapped a 15-game losing skid against Rutgers, their last win coming April 14, 1991.
Temple’s non-conference games against Wagner and Hartford will not be made up. The Owls will resume play at Maryland Eastern Shore Tuesday followed by a trip to Delaware State Wednesday before taking on Binghamton Friday at Ambler.
Matt Nadu can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also read: “Owls whiff on home opener, lose to Wagner”