Owls pounded in series opener against South Florida

Matt Hockenberry gave up 11 hits in four innings, his shortest start of the season.

Matt Hockenberry was visibly frustrated as he took the walk from the mound into the dugout following the top of the fourth inning on Friday afternoon. His disappointment stemmed from what was his shortest start of the season.

South Florida got to Hockenberry early, smacking him around for 11 hits en route to 13 total and a 13-6 win at Skip Wilson Field in Ambler, Pa. The game was originally scheduled to be played at 7 p.m. at Campbell’s Field in Camden, N.J., but concerns about the pending weather moved the game time up and forced a location change.

“We try not to read too much into it with where we’re at and the resources we’ve got or the personnel,” coach Ryan Wheeler said. “If we’re in it, we compete, if not, we just put it behind us and live to see another day. That’s about the best we can do.”

South Florida (19-14, 6-3 American) scraped a run across in the first inning and then two apiece in the second and third innings to jump out to a 5-0 lead.

Temple got on the board in the bottom of the third as senior third baseman Derek Peterson added to his team lead in doubles with an RBI two-bagger.

But the Bulls put the game away in the top of the fourth, plating five runs – all unearned – to take a commanding 10-1 lead. Senior leftfielder Bobby Heitzman had a crucial drop that allowed two runs to score. Third baseman Josh Mason had another error in the inning to allow the Bulls to take control.

For Hockenberry (4-2, 3.68 ERA), it was easily his roughest outing of the season. In total, the senior gave up 10 runs – five earned – on 11 hits while walking two. He also struck out two batters.

“I just think that the style of hitting that [South Florida] have, they’re a team that you’ve got to change speeds on,” Wheeler said. “‘Hock’ comes after you with hard stuff and they were ready for it. They’re short and quick to the ball, they’re hard to strike out.”

Temple (9-17, 4-6) rallied late in the game to get closer. Sophomore outfielder Texas Williams, who came on as a replacement, drove in a run in the bottom of the seventh with a sacrifice fly. Sophomore centerfielder Jimmy Kerrigan then hit a three-run home run in the bottom of the eighth to get the Owls to within eight at 13-5.

Kerrigan finished the day going 3-4 with a double, three RBIs, two runs and that home run.

In the ninth, senior first baseman Robert Amaro added to his team-lead in RBIs with an RBI single to get the game to its final score, 13-6.

“Guys battled and I’ll just keep rolling guys out there and giving them opportunities,” Wheeler said. “Whether we’re down or whatever the opportunity may be, they got to take advantage of it.”

The Owls will look to get back on track as the series continues Saturday afternoon with a 3 p.m. game at Campbell’s Field.

Jeff Neiburg can be reached at jeffrey.neiburg@temple.edu or on Twitter @Jeff_Neiburg.

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