Temple baseball’s right fielder Joe Lyall knows the outfield fences of Erny field very well. Now they know him, too.
Against Fordham last Sunday, Lyall tracked down a long fly ball that was heading over the outfield fence. He leapt into the metal barrier and came down with the ball in his glove as he untangled himself from the bent fence.
“It was just a routine play; that’s the way I see it,” Lyall said. “Every play should be made, everything hit towards you that touches your glove you should make the play.”
The leaping grab saved what would have been a three-run home run. Unfortunately for Lyall and the Owls, that great play was made at the end of an inning where Fordham scored nine runs off five Temple pitchers.
Going into the top of the seventh inning, Temple led Fordham by a 7-1 margin. Lyall drove in a run in the bottom of the fourth to tie the game 1-1. Two Fordham errors in the bottom of the fifth gave the Owls a 3-1 lead.
Owls starting pitcher Chris Joyce looked excellent through five and a half innings. In the top of the sixth he gave up a single to James Cisco. Cisco moved to second on a Chris Joyce balk.
Joyce was given attention by the team’s trainer for his ankle, which he hurt when he came off of the mound and gave up the balk.
He stayed in for the next batter who hit a shot to the deep infield, but Jim Tully made a nice stop and a great throw to home plate to nab Cisco.
In the bottom of the sixth inning Temple got four more runs on two hits. Jeff Roma started the inning getting hit by a pitch. Tully sacrificed him to second with a bunt, then Cap Poklemba walked.
Rob Cucinotta hit a two-run RBI single; two Fordham errors moved him to third. Then Kyle Sweppenhiser got a natural triple that drove in Cucinotta.
With a 6-1 Temple lead, Fordham made a pitching change. Mike Montano left the game and Anthony Santopolo came in. Santopolo retired the side and Fordham came up to bat in the seventh.
Joyce never seemed able to recover from the balk. He gave up a single and a steal to start the inning before giving up a walk. Ian Denson hit a drive to centerfield, which brought in a run for the Rams.
Two of the next three of Joyce’s batters got on with RBI singles. With two outs in the inning Joyce left the game with Temple leading 7-4.
Matt Powell came in for relief and started one of the most painful innings of Owls pitching all season.
Powell hit his first batter and gave up a two-run RBI single to the next. With his team still clinging to a one-run lead, Powell served up a walk and a passed ball to let Fordham tie the game at seven.
Brandon Bruno, the Owls’ best genuine reliever, came in next. He walked his first batter and served up a 3-1 count to Timothy Boyle.
“We couldn’t throw strikes,” Owls coach James “Skip” Wilson said. “We couldn’t get anyone out.”
Greg Powell then came into the game. Unfortunate enough to inherit the 3-1 count, he gave up a two-run single and the Owls lost the lead to Fordham, 9-7.The next batter he faced, Denson, got another two-run single and Fordham led 11-7.
After a walk, Powell was pulled in favor of Jeff Rugg. Rugg’s first batter hit the shot deep to the alley in right-center field; Lyall caught it to finally end the inning.
“It took four pitchers to get one out,” Rugg said. “That’s not going to win ballgames.”
Two Owls struck out in the bottom of the inning. Keith Ramsey and Roma both got on base but Tully struck out and was assessed an interference call for blocking the catcher. An out was the penalty and Temple left the inning trailing, 11-7.
Lyall made another great grab in the top of the eighth to rob the Rams of an extra base hit. Rugg struck out a batter in the inning, and the Temple ace put the other pitchers to shame.
In the bottom of the inning Temple put three runs on the board on four hits. Cucinotta hit a single and Sweppenhiser brought him home with another single.
The Owls rocked relief pitcher Jason Conlisk for four hits and two walks. His mistakes got Temple within one run of Fordham, 11-10. Derek Hucke came in and retired the side for Fordham.
Hucke struck out two batters in the bottom of the ninth to preserve the come-from-behind victory for Fordham, 11-10.
“It hurts,” center fielder Bob Filler said of the loss. “There were a couple balls that people should have made the plays, but we just didn’t get the plays.”
The loss was the second of the weekend series against Fordham. Temple split the Saturday doubleheader. The weekend series dropped the Owls to 5-9-1 in Atlantic 10 conference play.