A combination of timely hitting, solid defense and a dominate performance by starting pitcher Matt Hockenberry fueled Temple to a 5-4 comeback win against the University of Hartford Saturday.
Hockenberry threw an efficient 8 2-3 innings, holding Hartford to five hits and no earned runs while striking out six.
“I had all my pitches working,” Hockenberry said. “My fastball-curveball combination, we were throwing ahead in the count, behind in the count, throwing it for strikes.”
The Owls fell behind 4-0 by the third inning due to a series of defensive miscues but were able to tighten up defensively and contain the damage.
“We gave them some runs early, we weren’t playing defense, but we kept the game close like we’ve been doing the last four or five ballgames and we just started having better quality at-bats,” coach Ryan Wheeler said.
Temple quickly cut the deficit by scoring two runs in the fourth, one in the fifth and then two more in the sixth to take the lead for good.
“After we took the lead it was the defense that kept the game rolling,” Hockenberry said. “We just started making plays. I was able to get rhythm on the mound and when I have my position players behind me making plays it makes my job easier.”
Offensively, the Owls were led by second baseman Reyn Sugai who went 2-2 with a walk and a big two out RBI double in the sixth inning. Left fielder Frank D’Agostino collected three hits, including two doubles and a two out RBI single.
The Owls practiced sound situational hitting, knocking in runners in scoring position with two outs and getting runners in from third with less than two outs.
“I think it’s a chemistry thing, it’s a mental thing,” Wheeler said regarding the Owls’ two out approach. “It is something we harp on at practice. We’ve got to be good with two strikes and with two outs.”
Hartford threatened in the top of the ninth, putting runners on first and second with two outs, which knocked Hockenberry out of the game. Hockenberry was met with a loud ovation and received a warm welcome from teammates outside of the dugout as he came off the mound.
Redshirt-junior Zach Batchelor recorded the final out on one pitch for the Owls who have now won three of their last four games.
Saturday’s game was held at Caravel Academy in Bear, Delaware due to poor field conditions at Ambler. The Owls (4-8) will play Saint Peter’s University in a double header Sunday afternoon.