The Temple baseball team has a long road ahead of them as they pursue a heralded Atlantic Ten Conference title. The Owls will look to knock off a few teams who have conference championships under their belts.
The Owls opened their season at Daytona Beach, Fla., to take on defending Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Champions Bethune-Cookman. The Owls only managed one win in the three-game series against the Wildcats at Jackie Robinson Park. The lone win was a 9-6 come-from-behind victory in the second game of Sunday’s double-header. The Owls dropped their first game on Sunday, 5-1 and the series finale, 4-3, Monday.
Starting the season, the Owls’ bats were projected to do most of the damage, but it was the pitching that highlighted the weekend matchup.
Brothers Matt and Mike Mongiardini, both pitchers, provided solid outings for the Owls following senior Tom Dolan’s tough loss in the first game of the season. Coach Rob Valli’s staff held the Wildcats to a .214 average for the series, but the Owls had hitting issues of their own.
Temple could only muster six hits and one run on junior catcher Kyle Obal’s triple in the loss on Sunday, as Bethune-Cookman scored three runs to seal the game in their final two at bats.
After dropping that first game, the Owls used a potent offensive display, pounding out six runs in the eighth inning, to salvage game two.
Junior Matt Mongiardini, who won three Sunday games last season, was given the nod to start. He struggled in the early going, surrendering three first-inning runs, but settled down, going six strong and retiring 17 of the last 19 batters he faced.
The Owls tied it up on three hits in the top of the second including a solo homer by sophomore Matt Hertz.
Wildcats junior pitcher Joseph Gautier held the Owls scoreless the next five innings. Then Bethume-Cookman sent sophomore pitcher Felix Machado to the hill heading into the eighth with a 5-3 lead. The Owls later took a 9-5 advantage into the bottom of the eighth.
Valli then turned the ball over to senior Arshwin Asjes who gave up a solo shot to junior Chris Brown in the inning, but surrendered no more on the way to his first career save.
In the series finale, senior Yale transfer Mike Mongiardini took the hill for the Owls, allowing one run on two hits through six innings. This time the bullpen gave up three runs, putting Temple into a 4-0 hole heading into the final inning.
The Owls scored three runs to cut the lead to one with two outs in the ninth. Machado then issued junior outfielder Jamie Abercrombie his second intentional walk of the game, but he never crossed home plate.
This weekend the Owls will travel to Norfolk, Va., to take on powerhouse Old Dominion, who split their season opening series with Rutgers.
Matt Nadu can be reached at email@example.com.