Owls win first conference game, but drop series to Memphis

The Owls won their first American Athletic Conference game of the season last weekend, defeating host team Memphis on Saturday, 1-0 – but Temple lost the  series, two games to one.

Temple’s win was a pitching duel between the Owls’ right-handed sophomore Kelsey Dominik and the Tigers’ Ellen Roberts.

Both teams were hitless through the first three innings, and then Temple’s senior shortstop Sarah Prezioso homered to lead off the fourth. With the home run, Prezioso tied the Temple record for career runs scored.

Memphis tried to even the score in the bottom of the frame. Lindsay Crowdus singled to start the inning, and the Tigers advanced her to third with a sac bunt and a sac fly, but the next batter popped out to end the threat.

The Tigers put runners on second in the sixth and seventh innings, but Dominik was able to work herself out of both jams to give the Owls the 1-0 win.

Dominik (6-6) finished with a line of three hits and two walks through seven innings. Roberts gave up only one hit, while walking one and striking out six – but that one hit was Prezioso’s deciding home run.

Freshman second baseman Jessica Haug and junior center fielder Lacey McKeon both returned from concussions to start in Temple’s first conference victory. McKeon had been out since March 4, and Haug was injured three days later on March 7. Senior catcher/first baseman Stephanie Pasquale was expected to be back for the Memphis series as well, but she is still out with a broken finger.

Both teams’ offenses picked up in the second game on Saturday. Temple took advantage of a dropped fly ball in the first inning to go up 1-0. Prezioso, who scored on the play, now broke the career record for runs scored.

Right-hander Amanda Gatt, Temple’s freshman starter, ran into trouble in the second inning. She gave up two singles to start the inning, and then Georganna Goodwin launched a three-run homer to left field, putting the Tigers ahead by two.

Memphis extended its lead to 4-1 in the fifth inning, but the Owls rallied in the top of the sixth. Sophomore second baseman Leah Lucas led off the inning with a double, and Dominik, then at first base, walked. The next two batters were out, but then senior third baseman Devynne Nelons hit a three-run shot to center field to tie the game at four apiece.

Gatt walked the first batter she saw in the bottom of the inning, prompting coach Joe DiPietro to pull Gatt and replace her with Dominik.

Dominik, pitching for the second time that day, struggled against the Tigers. She walked a batter and allowed a run to come home on a wild pitch. The next batter singled home another run to put the Tigers up 6-4.

In the top of the seventh, the Tigers replaced their starting pitcher. But her replacement, Jordan Richwood, hit freshman left fielder Toni Santos with a pitch and walked Prezioso to start the inning, and she was immediately pulled in favor of Ellen Roberts, who had started the first game of the doubleheader. Roberts was effective again, and sent the Owls down in order to clinch the win for Memphis.

The Owls and Tigers faced off on Sunday in the deciding game of the series.

Right-handed junior Jessica Mahoney started the game for the Owls, and gave up an RBI single in the bottom of the first. It was the only run of the game.

Mahoney was effective against the Tigers after struggling in the first inning, and finished with a line of one run on four hits, with three walks and three strikeouts.

The Owls’ offense had to face Ellen Roberts for the third time in the series, and for the second time the team failed to score off of her. Temple did threaten in the fifth and seventh. In the fifth, the Owls put runners on second and third with one out, but couldn’t get a clutch hit. Then in the seventh, Temple loaded the bases with two outs, but Lucas flew out to end the game.

Roberts allowed four hits against the Owls, while walking two and striking out four. Her line for the series was 15 innings pitched, one run, five hits, three walks and 11 strikeouts in three games.

Temple (10-17, 1-5 American) will travel to Maryland on Wednesday, for a doubleheader against Towson, beginning at 3 p.m. The team will return home on Saturday for a weekend series against conference opponent Rutgers.

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

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