Junior shortstop Adrian Perez transferred to Temple from Yuba Community College in California. He has three game-winning hits in the Owls’ last seven Atlantic Ten Conference matchups.
Junior shortstop Adrian Perez has supplied three game-winning hits in the past seven Atlantic Ten Conference games to ensure much-needed wins for the struggling Temple baseball team.
Temple is now 7-28 overall and 4-11 in the A-10. The Owls are currently 13th in the A-10 standings. Four of those conference losses have come by two or fewer runs.
Perez has been stepping up to reverse that trend. He ranks second on the team in batting average at .333 and has been ranked among the Top 30 in the A-10 in that offensive category.
The transfer, who has started 30 of the season’s 35 games, is in his first year with the Owls after playing at Yuba Community College in California. He was recruited by North Carolina State, Gonzaga and Oral Roberts but chose to play at Temple.
“It was going to be important to us to recruit a junior college shortstop,” coach Rob Valli said. “He kind of fit the bill for us. It’s very difficult. The whole country is trying to recruit the shortstop who can also hit third.”
The former first-team All-Bay Valley Conference player batted .399 with 34 RBIs during his sophomore campaign at Yuba CC. He said one significant change he had to get used to after the move to the East Coast was the weather. In addition, Perez said he found a difference between the two conferences in terms of talent.
“I saw a lot of differences,” Perez said. “There’s better quality baseball from junior college to Division I college. So we worked hard in the fall, and I just adapted to it really well.
“Everything has been good,” Perez added. “Good people, good teammates and all that. It’s just all fun. Not really a big difference. Baseball is baseball.”
Early in the year, Perez was plagued by an injury that set back his progress. In the second series of the season, he pulled his hamstring, which made his infield position more challenging to play.
“Any time he had to push off and explode or do anything explosive, as you have to do on just about every play, it really slowed him down,” Valli said.
Lately, Perez is looking healthier, and his statistics in the box scores have made that evident. He has posted a team-high 24 RBIs, while supplying 39 hits on the year so far.
“He can really hit,” Valli said. “He gives you some offense in there and plays a fair shortstop.”
The first walk-off hit came on April 13 against Saint Joseph’s in the bottom of the 10th inning. Perez hit a single that scored sophomore center fielder Jabair Khan. The Owls defeated the Hawks, who are currently third in the A-10, by a score of 3-2.
Perez’s other two clutch moments came in the most recent series against Richmond, which is 18-19 overall and 5-10 in the A-10. In the opening game, a 6-5 win for Temple, Perez came through with another single that scored Khan. Then, after the Owls lost the first game of the Saturday doubleheader, Perez again singled to bring home the winning run. He did it with two outs.
“We’ve counted on him all year,” Valli said. “We knew in recruiting him that we were going to have to really recruit a frontline player who can impact us right away, and you’re seeing he’s having an impact on the games.”
Senior second baseman Tony Jusino, who was also a junior college transfer from California, has helped Perez transition to the new competition level and the new surroundings.
“I didn’t know Tony till I got here, and he treated me really well,” Perez said. “He showed me around, walked me through everything. He’s been there since Day 1.”
Perez will try to continue that consistent effort to close out the season.
“[My] improvements would be just working harder in the infield and just keeping focused,” Perez said. “That’s all I can do and be a good teammate for the remainder of this year and next year.”
The Owls still have several meaningful series with conference opponents remaining on their schedule before the season wraps up. They will host Villanova (20-16 overall, 2-12 Big East) today at 3 p.m. at Skip Wilson Field.
Connor Showalter can be reached at email@example.com.