After winning three of five games last week, the baseball team is now one victory away from reaching the .500 mark this season.
Temple (6-7) continues to work out of its early season struggles, as conference action will kick off this weekend against Rhode Island.
Over spring break, the Owls improved their team batting average to .275 while the pitching staff is trying to weigh down their bloated 5.59 earned run average. Temple is also looking to regroup after committing 30 errors in the team’s first 13 games.
“A lot has to do with it being early in the season,” coach Rob Valli said about the team’s slow start. “You especially see it from teams who haven’t been outside.”
The Owls only had one practice outside of McGonigle Hall so far this season because of fluctuating weather. Games against Hartford and Villanova were cancelled last week due to impending bad weather.
That didn’t stop the Owls from picking up three key wins in five days this past week. It was the Owls busiest and perhaps the most revealing stretch so far in the season.
“It’s been a successful week,” Valli said of the Owls victories over the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, Binghamton and Long Island.
Senior outfielder Stan Orzechowski led the way for the Owls with two home runs and four runs batted in against the Hawks on the road last Tuesday. The Owls traveled to Dover, Del. Wednesday, only to drop a 14-11 decision to Del. State. The 11 runs are a season high for Temple.
The Owls began the six-game homestand by bouncing back Friday at Ambler’s Skip Wilson Field behind ace Tom Dolan (1-3). The senior pitched seven strong innings to notch his first win of the season in the 4-3 win.
The victory was a solid team performance with the Owls’ hitters scoring all four runs off starter Zach Groh (1-2), handing the 2006 American East Pitcher of the Year, a loss.
“I think it was a big win for [Dolan],” Valli said. “Him being a senior he knows what to do with these upcoming conference weekend games being so important.”
After dropping the opener of Saturday’s doubleheader, 11-7, to Long Island University, former Big 5 pitcher of the week, junior Matt Mongiardini shut down the Blackbirds for the 8-2 win. Mongiardini, improved to 3-0, allowing only one earned run in five innings of work, lowering his earned run average to 1.57.
The team’s success in the last five games shows they can maintain momentum throughout a demanding schedule. What has been refreshing for the Owls is the performance of former starter turned-closer Arshwin Asjes. The senior recorded two of his three saves last week and now posts a 1.12 era.
The Owls are also receiving some much-needed production from the offensive end by freshmen Steve Nikorak and Byron McCoy. The two have quickly made an impact on the team providing Temple with key game-winning hits. They rank second and third on the team in batting average, respectively, with Nikorak batting .350 and McCoy at a .333 clip. McCoy sat out for Saturday’s games due to a slightly pulled groin that Valli said is not serious.
Temple will finish out its homestand with Lehigh University this afternoon and city rival Penn tomorrow before heading to Kingston, R.I. this weekend for the start of conference play against the Rams.
Matthew Nadu can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org