Last weekend’s Villanova Baseball Bash wasn’t much of a party for the baseball team.
The Owls finished the three-day tournament, played at the Ambler Sports Complex, with a 1-2 record. In their final two games, the Owls watched Saint Peter’s score four runs in the top of the ninth inning to earn a 6-5 comeback win on Saturday.
Sunday’s contest against Saint Francis ended in similar fashion as the Owls watched a late lead disappear on a solo home run in a 5-4 loss.
“The good thing about college baseball is that you can come out and play the next day. That’s just the nature of our sport,” said coach Rob Valli. “You know that everyday is a new day, and we felt that we had a good chance to take two out of three today.”
The Owls (5-10) have played five games in the last seven days, and with a tired starting rotation, Valli looked to freshman Marc Tankel to make his first collegiate start against St. Francis. Tankel had a respectable outing, allowing seven hits and four earned runs over seven innings.
Lenny DelGrippo led a shaky Temple offense with a pair of doubles and two runs batted in against St. Francis. DelGrippo – a transfer from Wingate (N.C.) – ripped a two-run double in the bottom of the fourth inning, bringing home Frank Nunan and Dan Brady to tie the game at 2.
Sophomore Tom Dolan, who earned Atlantic Ten Conference Pitcher of the Week honors, followed with a routine grounder to St. Francis second baseman Dennis Alexander. The ball was initially misplayed, then thrown over the head of first baseman Leo Dandes. The error allowed DelGrippo to score from second base and put Dolan at second. Dolan eventually scored on a passed ball to put the Owls ahead, 4-2.
The Terriers (2-5) got one run back in the next frame, however. With runners at the corners, a St. Francis runner was caught in a rundown while attempting to steal second. The rundown allowed a runner to score from third. St. Francis manufactured another run in the top of the seventh to tie the game at 4.
Freshman Joe McGilligan, who replaced Tankel in the top of the eighth inning, was greeted with an opposite field home run by St. Francis’ Peter Doherty. The solo shot gave the Terriers a 5-4 lead.
“The kid hit it pretty good, and you are going to give up solo home runs,” Valli said. “Today is similar to what we have done so far this season. We don’t protect a lead in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings. You are going to get [solo home runs] throughout the course of a game, but you can’t let them beat you.”
Temple designated hitter Josh Wernick doubled to lead off the bottom of the eighth. Dolan followed with a sacrifice bunt to move Wernick to third. Freshman catcher Steve Mury stepped up to the plate and hit a soft grounder back to the pitcher. Wernick broke for home, but was thrown out at the plate.
Valli said he was disappointed following Sunday’s loss to St. Francis, but said it’s still early enough in the season for the team to turn things around.
“I like some of our young players ability to come out and work hard everyday,” Valli said. “We’re relying on some of our younger guys to make some plays, and hopefully it will work for us.”
The Owls are back in action this afternoon with a game at La Salle, in the first round of the Liberty Bell Classic, a tournament featuring city college baseball teams. Saint John’s will visit Temple tomorrow.
Jamie Abercrombie extended his hitting streak to eight games with a single in the seventh. … Pitcher Arshwin Asjes has not allowed a run in his last 17 innings.
Kevin Maloney can be reached at email@example.com.