Owls can’t quiet La Salle offense, drops series

Pitching staff allows 12 runs on 13 hits.

Entering Sunday’s match-up in search of an important conference win, La Salle (11-17, 6-3 Atlantic 10 Conference) defeated Temple (11-16, 3-6 A-10) 12-7 at Skip Wilson Field.

The three hour and six minute contest was full of offense from the start as La Salle scored 12 runs on 13 hits in its second win against Temple in three days. Two three-run innings for La Salle in the third and eighth innings were the deciding factor in the contest en route to the Explorers’ fourth win of the season on the road.

After three runs in Saturday’s shutout Temple victory, Sunday’s match-up provided a quick and steady surge of power and runs for both La Salle and Temple with Owls’ starting pitcher Dan Moller on the mound.

In the bottom of the first inning, the Owls jumped out to the early 1-0 lead. Senior third baseman Henry Knabe sent a ground ball through the middle which scored senior second baseman Jordan Queja, who reached on a single to centerfield. With one out, redshirt-senior designated hitter Matt Elko sent a pop up to second base which fell in and out of the glove, scoring Knabe.

Entering the top of the second inning, Temple held a 2-0 lead, a lead that the Owls would soon see disappear. A sacrifice fly from sophomore right fielder Justin Korenblatt scored sophomore first baseman Mark Williams, who lead the inning off with a triple to left field. Following back-to-back fly outs, Moller surrendered a home run to center fielder George Smith, Jr., tying the game 2-2.

On the first pitch of the top of the second inning, freshman right fielder Frank D’Agostino sent a line drive home run over the right-field fence, giving the Owls the lead once again. Following a single and stolen base from senior left fielder Allen Stiles, Queja notched his second single of the game, scoring Stiles. At the end of the second inning, Temple led La Salle 4-2.

Following a two-run bottom of the second for the Owls, the Explorers responded with a three-run inning of their own as two hits and two walks led to the early exit of Moller with no outs in the second inning. Junior pitcher Preston Hill entered the game for Temple and recorded three fly-outs to escape the inning with the Owls trailing 5-4.

Moller finished his afternoon with 2.0 innings pitched, allowing five runs (three earned) on five hits while recording one walk and one strikeout. Moller earned the loss in the match-up, falling to 1-4 on the season.

“It was the first time in a long while where we just didn’t get the game under control on the mound,” coach Ryan Wheeler said.

After a quick 1-2-3 inning for the Owls in the bottom of the third inning, the Explorers’ offense was back to work against Hill. Senior third baseman Dan Klem’s third single of the game scored freshman second baseman Collin McGowan, who hit a double to left field in the previous at-bat. La Salle scored its second run of the fourth inning as a wild pitch from Hill scored Klem who was already running on the pitch. Entering the bottom of the fourth, Temple trailed La Salle 7-4.

“Hitting wise I think we did a little better than usual with situational hitting but  you can’t win if you don’t pitch and you don’t field,” redshirt-junior center fielder David Hall said.

In the top of the fifth inning, La Salle increased its lead to 8-4. Following a leadoff single, a ground ball to second base seemed like a sure double play, but sophomore shortstop Nick Lustrino threw the ball away from junior first baseman Derek Peterson. With two outs in the inning, a McGowan single to center field scored Smith, Jr. and was deemed as an unearned run for redshirt-junior pitcher Ryan Kuehn, who replaced Hill entering the fifth inning.

After a scoreless sixth inning, the Owls trimmed the Explorers’ lead to 8-6. A double from Queja down the left field scored Hall, who reached on a leadoff walk. Following Queja, Lustrino hit a double of his own which scored Queja and capped off the two-run inning for Temple.

The La Salle offense was not satisfied with a two-run lead and added three more runs in the top of the eighth inning on three hits. The Explorers added one more run in the top of the ninth to seal the 12-6 win for La Salle.

“[Temple] just couldn’t get them stopped and [La Salle] constantly had the momentum on its side,” Wheeler said.

Offensively, the Owls were lead by a four-hit performance from Queja, two of which were doubles and one home run. The senior second baseman added three runs on the day for the Temple.

The Owls will be back in action on Wednesday, April 10 as they host Saint Peter’s at Skip Wilson Field at 3:00 p.m. The non-conference game will be a test before Temple travels to VCU for a three-game series in Richmond, VA.

“I don’t think we did anything great today,” Hall said. “We didn’t put ourselves in a great spot to win the game today.”

John Murrow can be reached at john.murrow@temple.edu or Twitter @JohnMurrow12.

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