Owls struggle in opener, regroup afterward

The team opened its season at the TSU Tiger Classic on Friday

Temple split its first two games of the 2014 season at the TSU Tiger Classic on Friday.

The Owls fell to Dayton, 3-2, in the early game, and then rebounded against Western Michigan, winning 11-3 in five innings.

Coach Joe DiPietro said timely hitting was the problem in the Dayton game.

“We left sixteen people on base, so we couldn’t get a hit when we needed it,” DiPietro said. “We had some bad at-bats with bases loaded.”

Dayton’s Tiffany Ricks started the scoring, hitting a solo home run to left-center field on a 3-2 pitch. Temple responded in the third, when junior right fielder Julia Kastner came home on a passed ball, after Temple had loaded the bases with no outs. But the Owls failed to score again in the frame, stranding three.

Temple’s starting pitcher, right-handed sophomore Kelsey Dominik, ran into trouble in the fourth. Dominik gave up a two-RBI double to the Flyers’ Katie Ryan with no outs, before stranding runners at the corners.

“She pitched alright,” DiPietro said of Dominik. “She can pitch better, but it’s the first time out. She’s not the reason we lost.”

Dominik finished the day with a line of six innings pitched, eight hits, three earned runs, two walks and three strikeouts. She also scored Temple’s second run, leading off the top of the seventh with a home run to left field. The Owls tried to tack on more runs, placing runners on first and second with two outs. But Kastner grounded into a fielder’s choice, with sophomore left fielder Annie Marcopolus put out at second.

Although unhappy with the lack of timely hitting, DiPietro had some encouraging words for his team after the game.

“I just told them it’s a bad thing to leave 16 people on base, but it’s also a good thing because we had 16 people get on base,” DiPietro said. “We’ve got to get good at-bats, and get up there and swing. That’s what we do. We hit. So I told them to regroup, and we’ll be ready for Western Michigan.”

“We just have to be consistent,” DiPietro added. “It’s the first time outside. We’ll get better as we go along. We just have to have a better effort in the second game.”

The team did exactly what DiPietro wanted against Western Michigan. The Owls scored twice in the top of the first and never looked back, eventually extending their lead to 11-0.

DiPietro said the team understood exactly what they needed to adjust for the Western Michigan game.

“When I told them at the end of the game about [leaving] sixteen runners on base, they nodded their heads, like ‘We should have done a better job,’ ” DiPietro said. “So they knew it.”

Temple had 14 hits in the Western Michigan game. Freshman center fielder Toni Santos went 3-for-3 with two runs scored, and Kastner and sophomore second baseman Leah Lucas each hit a three-run homer.

“We had 22 hits on the day, which is a pretty good day, offensively,” DiPietro said.

Freshman right-hander Amanda Gatt dominated Western Michigan early, and carried a no-hitter into the fifth inning, before giving up three runs.

“She pitched great,” DiPietro said. “It’s her first college win, and it’s only our first win of the year.”

DiPietro said the offensive outburst helped the hard-throwing Gatt settle in quickly.

“I think it helped that we scored two runs right away in the first inning, and gave her an opportunity to kind of just relax and go out there and throw,” DiPietro said.

Overall, DiPietro said the team played well against the Broncos. The defence made no errors, after having made two against Dayton. The Owls utilized the long ball effectively, and improved their hitting with runners in scoring position. Both Gatt and Dominik turned in solid performances, and DiPietro feels confident moving forward.

“We’re looking to get both [of tomorrow’s] games, get on a little bit of a roll here,” DiPietro said. “And then close out on Sunday with Indiana State, and come home 4-1.”

Temple plays Western Michigan again at 6 p.m. on Saturday, and then faces host team Tennessee State at 8 p.m.

Don McDermott can be reached at donald.mcdermott@temple.edu.

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