The front cover of the baseball team’s media guide has served as an ominous sign that a disappointing season would be on tap for the Owls well before their first pitch or first at-bat.
It hinted at signs of a disappearing act.
Pictured on the media guide cover are senior pitchers Tim Andrel, Tim Foulkrod and Justin Mendek, who are all prominent members of the team. With them are two players who are no longer with the team.
Senior catcher Marc Wagner was dismissed from the team early in the season and senior outfielder Jason Adamek was cut prior to the season’s first game.
After 36 games, the team has struggled to a 7-29 overall record and has won just one in 11 Atlantic Ten Conference games.
With 18 games remaining, a solid winning streak is needed to avoid their worst record since the 1992 campaign, when the Owls went 15-35. So far this season, the Owls have strung together two, two-game winning streaks.
Coming into this afternoon’s visit to the Main Line to take on Villanova, the Owls have lost 10 games in a row and 16 of their last 17.
They must win one of their next five games to avoid the longest losing streak in school history, which stands at 15, set in the 2000-01 seasons.
The timing of longtime coach Skip Wilson’s retirement made it difficult for the team and new coach Rob Valli to adjust to one other.
Valli was hired on Oct. 19 after the fall practice season had concluded. Last season’s acting coach John McArdle presided over the team’s first set of cuts. He also oversaw the feeling-out process for incoming players, for which the fall season is used.
“It’s been tough, it’s been rough, but coming in [to this season], we knew a change was going to come, and we weren’t involved in that process,” said Mendek, the team’s captain. “It didn’t change our trust [as a team]. It’s a new system with new philosophies.”
Along with any new system comes new rules, and sometimes adjusting to those new rules can become difficult.
Wagner’s dismissal was followed by senior pitcher Chris Kurtz leaving the team after undergoing off-season surgery on his pitching arm. Junior pitcher Chris
McCafferty, who recorded 68.0 innings last season, has thrown in just three innings this season.
To compensate for their losses, Valli asked a lot of freshmen or mid-year transfers, including infielders Lenny DelGrippo, Carmen DelMastro, Lucio Rainelli, catcher Steve Mury and pitcher Arshwin Asjes.
“With me being new, it’s a lot easier I think,” DelGrippo said. “I didn’t know what
to expect, and it’s a lot easier to come in with a new coach, also. Guys who were here are probably used to Skip Wilson, so it’s probably been a lot easier for me, than them.”
Freshmen have combined to start 157 games, while seniors have accounted for 21. Those numbers are a bit inflated because the remaining seniors are all pitchers and Wagner, who would have most likely started throughout the season, appeared in the lineup only nine times.
Chatter among players was that, in a behind-closed-doors meeting, Valli had told a handful of players they were not going to play in any of the remaining games.
“It just becomes [that] things that are said just aren’t true, nor can [they] be proved,” Valli said. “I think that the facts bear out that if there are any disgruntled players, seniors who were told they weren’t going to play anymore, I think that the facts prove that seniors play more than most [of our other players].”
Valli is attempting to turn around a program that has finished with a losing record in eight of its last nine seasons. This year will mark the ninth in 10 campaigns.
“The fact is that Temple University has only had [three] winning season[s] since 1988,” Valli said. “…Our job is to recruit high-quality student athletes and our job is to develop our student athletes within our program, and I feel that is what we do on a daily basis.
“That’s where we are right now. It’s not about the past. It’s about what we are doing right now to improve Temple University baseball,” the coach added.
BY THE NUMBERS
Foulkrod has pitched 232.2 career innings, pushing him into ninth place all-time among Temple hurlers. … Sophomores Frank Nunan and Devon Swope and redshirt freshman Jamie Abercrombie have accounted for 41 percent of the team’s runs batted. … Junior third baseman Dan Brady needs 16 hits to reach
the 100-career-hit plateau.
Kevin Maloney can be reached at