Owls upset conference leader

Dominik proves to be hero in second game of double header.

In one day Kelsey Dominik was the goat and the hero.

Just a few short hours after a miserable outing on the mound the freshman pitcher and corner-infielder put the finishing touches on a rout over city rival St. Joseph’s.

With a 6-1 lead in the second half of a crucial Atlantic 10 Conference double-header Dominik, playing first base, sent a pitch to straight-away center in the fifth inning. The bases were loaded, and the game was over.

“She crushed it, too,” coach Joe DiPietro said. “It wasn’t one of those just-make-it-over-the-fence things, it was a bomb.”

The 10-1 five-inning game was the first conference loss for the A-10-leading Hawks (22-4-1, 7-1 A-10) and the first win for the Owls (16-16, 6-2 A-10) against a team in the top half of the conference standings.

Things started out poorly for the Owls.

Dominik (7-2) had her worst outing on the mound this season, lasting just one and a third innings against St. Joseph’s (23-3-1, 8-0 A-10). The ace of the staff coughed up eight runs before coach Joe DiPietro called in freshman Jessica Tolmie to stop the bleeding, moving Kelsey to first for the remainder of the game.

“She wasn’t sharp today,” DiPietro said. “But it’s the first time all year that she really hasn’t been sharp, so hopefully it’s just one of those days for her.”

But the damage was done. Tolmie gave up a two-run single in the third to make it 10-0. Junior shortstop did her part to keep it somewhat closer with a grand slam in the bottom of the frame but a 10-4 lead was just too much. Tolmie would go on to give up six more runs in a 14-5 loss (five innings) despite striking out six.

The only positives out of the first game were Prezioso’s 2-for-3 performance. She doubled and scored in the fifth to go along with her grand slam. Junior catcher Stephanie Pasquale also slapped two singles in three at-bats keeping her hitting streak alive.

The Owls were no match for the Hawks’ clear-cut ace, senior Taryn Ashway, who improved to 18-1. The three earned runs she allowed bumped her earned run average up a shade from 1.20 to 1.32, but she tacked on eight more strikeouts on the day.

“We know she’s good,” DiPietro said. “She’s not a kid who gives up a lot of runs.”

“We didn’t have enough quality swings,” DiPietro added. “She got us out on a lot of balls that were down in the zone.”

But some poor sportsmanship, as the Owls took it, gave Temple added motivation heading into the back end of the twin bill. With a 13-4 contest in the top of the fifth Hawks’ junior designated player Morgan Earling stole second, allowing freshman pinch runner Kerrie Kortman to swipe home.

“You have an unwritten rule, you don’t steal a base when you’re winning by that many runs, and they did. They stole a base and I made sure everybody knew that that wasn’t going to be OK… You don’t disrespect someone like that and I just thought they did that, and our kids responded to it.”

That and a good pitching to start the game proved the difference.

Junior Brooklin White, who has struggle for much of the season, got a quick one-two-three inning, including a strikeout, in the top of the first.

“I think she was the difference,” DiPietro said. “She worked ahead of the count, she didn’t get hit hard all over the place, she wasn’t walking people…And that kind of set the tone.”

Freshman second baseman Leah Lucas gave her a bit of breathing room with a solo shot to center in the bottom of the second, for Temple’s first lead of the afternoon. But a series of singles after an error by freshman third baseman Devynne Nelons tied the game back up in the top of the third inning.

But it was the bottom of the order than came through once more. Pasquale, trying to extend her streak, reached base on a fielding error by senior centerfielder Dana Parks which scored two, and Lucas made the Hawks pay one batter later with a two-run homer.

White allowed one more runner to second in the final two innings with the 5-1 cushion, which proved more than enough.

In the bottom of the fifth Pasquale extender her streak to 15 games with a single that loaded the bases. Two batters later, with the score 6-1, Dominik ended the game early with walk-off grand slam.

“It was a huge redemption,” DiPietro said. “Kelsey’s the kind of kid who, if she makes an out, she feels like she’s letting the team down.”

She finished 1-for-5 in both games, but the one hit was more than enough.

The shelling by the Owls was a major blow to freshman Liz Mendez’s (4-3). The second pitcher in the Hawks staff entered with a 1.75 ERA in 52 innings of work, but that number swelled to 3.44 after allowing six earned in the second game.

” You could just see everybody’s attitude was a little bit different [in the second game],” DiPietro said. “When she made a mistake we made her pay for it.”

White improved to 4-6 and was able to drop her ERA down to 6.81.

The split series drops the Owls to a tie for third with Massachusetts. Dayton sits between the Philadelphia rivals at 7-2 and travels to Ambler to take on the Owls in a two-game series Friday and Saturday. The Hawks’ conference lead is now down to half a game.

“We’re still in everything,” DiPietro said. “You would love to win two games, but us splitting with them really wasn’t a bad thing.”

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