In every sport, a team has its rivals, whether based on proximity or talent. For the baseball team, its rival is Saint Joseph’s.
“It’s a Big 5 rivalry. It’s been going on forever,” senior outfielder Sean Barksdale said. “It doesn’t matter what their record is or our record is – we are always going to play each other hard. It’s the Big 5. It means a lot to get wins.”
That is exactly what Temple tried to do Friday at La Salle’s Hank DeVincent Field. The two teams met head-to-head for a doubleheader.
The Owls, however, dropped both games against the Hawks. With the loss, the Owls fell to 13-17 overall and 8-3 in the Atlantic Ten Conference, while the Hawks improved to 13-16 overall and 7-4 in the A-10.
“Unfortunately, we didn’t get out there with wins,” Barksdale said. “We put ourselves in a good spot. Even though we lost those two games, we still are in second.”
The Owls were down early in the first game. Led by St. Joe’s junior catcher Drew Smith’s two-run triple in the second inning, the Hawks scored seven runs in the first two innings, jumping out on top with an early 7-1 lead. Trying not to fall too far behind, the Owls scored two runs in the third inning, making it a 7-3 game.
The Owls would only score one more time, as they lost, 9-4, in the first of the two games. Sophomore pitcher Ben White fell to 2-3, as he allowed six earned runs in two innings. Fellow sophomore pitcher Jordan Cannon struck out five batters in his six innings of relief.
In the second game, it looked as if the Cherry and White were going to win, as they jumped out to a 4-1 lead. St. Joe’s rallied to tie it in the fourth inning after four walks and a hit batter.
The Hawks took the lead in the sixth inning, and Temple would only score two more times, as St. Joe’s controlled the rest of the game, winning 11-6.
Freshman pitcher Dan Moller recorded the loss after he allowed seven runs in his five and two-thirds innings of work.
Temple’s final two runs of the game came off the bat of Barksdale.
The co-captain hit two powerful home runs that cleared the left-center fence. Barksdale’s two home runs increased his team lead to nine on the season, which is a new career high.
The outfielder has been tearing the cover off the ball recently, hitting .450 with four home runs in the past week. He attributes his success to staying positive.
“I just try to go out there and play hard,” Barksdale said. “Not change anything, stay positive and feel comfortable out there and see the ball real well. Stay positive – never get too high or too low.”
With these two losses, Temple has dropped its last five games and six of its last eight. During this losing streak, the Owls have fallen out of first place in the A-10 and are now tied with Dayton for second.
Even though the Cherry and White have dropped their last five games, the team is still very much in the playoff picture.
“We put ourselves in a good spot already. We’re 8-3 [in the A-10],” Barksdale said. “Without a doubt, I think we’re going to be in the playoffs, if not a one seed, then a two.”
The final game of the series was scheduled for Saturday, but due to rain, the game was canceled and will not be rescheduled.
Temple’s next game is against Delaware on Wednesday. The Owls will look to put a stop to their losing streak.
“We are all going to come together, and our offense is going to stay strong, and our pitching is going to get better,” Barksdale said. “I think we are going to do real well. We need to break this losing streak and get going.”
The Owls return to A-10 action this weekend against Charlotte at Skip Wilson Field.
Nick Hollenstein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.