In the only game the two teams will play against each other in the 2013 regular season, Longwood (7-8) defeated Temple (3-9) 9-6 on Tuesday, March 12.
Although the Owls took the early lead, Longwood was able to score at least one run in five out of eight innings en route to its seventh victory of the season. Headlined by two three-run innings, the Lancers defeated the Owls in Farmville, Va.
“I don’t think there is one thing today that we can blame the loss on,” sophomore shortstop Nick Lustrino said. “We had a few unlucky breaks and that sure didn’t help us today.”
In the top of the first inning, Lustrino started off Temple’s offensive attack with a one-out double. Following a walk from junior first baseman Derek Peterson and a double steal from Nick Lustrino and Peterson, senior designated hitter Henry Knabe singled to left field, scoring both Lustrino and Peterson. A single to center field from freshman right-fielder Frank D’Agostino would later score Knabe and give the Owls the 2-0 lead heading into the bottom of the first inning.
After a quick, four-batter top of the second for Temple, it was Longwood who added three runs of its own in the bottom of the second inning. With one out, freshman catcher Kenny Cassidy singled down the left field line, scoring sophomore third baseman Brandon Delk and junior first baseman Scott Burkett. A throwing error from Owls’ senior third baseman Elijah Yarborough helped score Lancers’ senior designated hitter Justin Lacy and went down as an unearned run. Moller helped the Owls escape the bottom of the second trailing 3-2 after a groundout to Lustrino to end the inning.
“The second inning was the turning point in the game today for us,” coach Ryan Wheeler said. “It was indicative of how our season has gone. Three quick Longwood runs got them right back into the game and we could have shut them down and taken them out of the game then and there. We rolled over and didn’t play hard after that inning.”
In the top of the third inning, a single from junior catcher Andrew Nist scored D’Agostino, who reached on a leadoff double. Heading to the bottom of the fourth inning, Temple lead Longwood 4-3.
Redshirt-sophomore pitcher Zach White replaced Moller in the bottom of the fourth inning. Moller finished the day with three innings pitched, two hits, three runs (two earned) and recorded three walks and three strikeouts. After two quick outs recorded by White in the bottom of half of the fourth, a solo homerun from Longwood freshman left-fielder Blake Ream tied the game 4-4.
In the bottom of the fifth inning, Longwood added three more runs, all unearned. After recording two quick outs to start the bottom of the fifth, a throwing error from Temple’s Yarborough scored Longwood’s Burkett. Back-to-back hits from Longwood scored two more unearned runs, giving the Lancers the 7-4 lead at the end of the fifth inning.
“In order to start winning more games, we really need to cut down on the big run innings,” Lustrino said. “The big innings are what hurt us in losses.”
Entering the bottom of the sixth inning, sophomore pitcher Adam Dian replaced White. White left the game with two innings pitched, four hits, four runs (one earned) and recorded two strikeouts and no walks. A single from junior shortstop Alex Owens scored Burkett, who reached base on a one out single. Despite the third Owls’ error of the day in the sixth inning, Dian recorded the third out of the inning on a fly out to center field. The Lancers ended the sixth inning leading 8-4 over Temple.
“The game is simple, hitting, throwing, catching and running,” Wheeler said. “Those are the four basic skills needed to win and right now we are not doing that. Right now, we don’t have the right pieces in the puzzle. It’s that simple.”
Following a 1-2-3 top of the seventh for the Owls offense, Longwood added another run as Cassidy singled to right field, scoring right-fielder Kyri Washington. With one out in the top of the seventh, Owls’ freshman pitcher Connor Staskey replaced Dian. Despite a wild pitch and two Lancers’ runners on base, Staskey was able to record a fly out and an inning ending strikeout, ending the bottom of the seventh with Longwood leading 9-4.
With one out in the top of the eighth inning, the Owls added a run as D’Agostino singled to left center, scoring Derek Peterson who reached on a leadoff single. Just one batter later, a Nist single to center field scored redshirt-senior first baseman Matt Elko, who reached base on a Longwood fielding error. A Temple double play ended the eighth inning threat and the Owls found themselves trailing 9-6 heading into the bottom of the eighth.
In the bottom of the eighth, a Longwood double threatened to add to the Lancers’ lead, but Staskey struck out the side, ending the bottom of the eighth with Longwood still leading Temple 9-6.
Leading off the ninth inning, senior left-fielder Allen Stiles reached on a Longwood fielding error. Senior second baseman Jordan Queja followed Stiles with a hit by pitch. With no outs in the inning, Lustrino flied out to left field, followed by a fielder’s choice by Derek Peterson. With runners on first and third base, Knabe flied out to right field, sealing the 9-6 win for Longwood.
“Hopefully this is just a bad streak and we will break ourselves out of it before we start playing conference games,” Lustrino said.
Following the loss, Temple will play its home opener tomorrow, March 13 at Skip Wilson Field against Lafayette (2-9) at 3:00 p.m.
“I am disappointed in the team and the way they are responding to doing the same things over and over,” Wheeler said. “At some point you have to make changes and that’s what the team is starting to see me do now.”
John Murrow can be reached at email@example.com or Twitter @JohnMurrow12.