If not for an eight-run sixth in the first game of a double-header with Atlantic 10 Conference foe Dayton (17-16, 8-3 A-10), the Owls (18-17, 7-3 A-10) would have dropped two straight games for the first time in nearly a month.
Temple dug itself a hole early, after junior Brooklin White gave up three runs on two singles and walk in the first inning. The Owls’ most senior member of the rotation last just 2.2 innings, giving up five earned runs on seven hits while walking six.
The Owls managed just four base runners in the first three innings, but were fortunate to get a two-run homerun in the second by freshman second baseman Leah Lucas and another in the third by freshman leftfielder Annie Marcopolus.
“Nothing was really going our way,” coach Joe DiPietro said. “Some of the girls seemed to be out of sync, I guess, for lack of a better word.”
Junior Kylie Kristovich came in with two outs in the third to relieve White, but surrendered one earned and one unearned before being pulled after the fourth inning. At that point the Owls trailed 7-4.
After a relatively quiet fifth the Owls got their third homer of the night by sophomore rightfielder Julia Kastner, a two-run shot to left to cut the deficit to one. But the floodgates had already opened.
Junior shortstop Sarah Prezioso doubled into the gap in right-center, scoring Marcopolus and sophomore designated player Lacey McKeon. Senior centerfielder Ali Robinson followed up two batters later with a RBI single and Lucas knocked in a run on a fielder’s choice. And junior third baseman Devynne Nelons capped off the come-from-behind victory with a three-run blast to make it 12-7.
DiPietro said he wasn’t entirely sure they deserved to win.
“We played basically two or three innings,” DiPietro said.
Freshman first baseman-turned-pitcher Kelsey Dominik, who came in to pitch to start the fifth inning and improved to 8-2 on the year, sealed the win with a one-two-three seventh inning.
The second game started out much the same. Sophomore Jessica Mahoney got two quick outs, then allowed five straight batters to reach base. The Flyers scored just two runs, though, on a single to right and a walk on a full count.
“I thought she pitched OK,” DiPietro said. “She had five walks, which was too many.”
Mahoney eventually settled down, not allowing another run and fanning five while going the distance. But the damage was done. Dayton led 2-0 and would go on to win by the same score.
“Brook got herself in trouble in the first game,” DiPietro said. “You’re looking at 11 walks by what’s supposed to be your No. 1 and No. 1-A pitchers, and that’s just not going to be good enough at the level we play at.”
The Owls biggest threat came in the bottom of the first. DiPietro tinkered with the lineup before the double-header, having McKeon lead off with Marcopolus batting second instead of Marcopolus and Robinson at the top of the order. Robinson hit fifth in both games.
Having McKeon back healthy prompted the lineup change.
“With the speed that the two of them have at the top of the order really helps us a lot,” DiPietro said.
Marcopolus and Prezioso started off the first with back-to-back singles. Pasquale then hit one at second base, where Prezioso become the second out, and advancing Marcopolus to third. But Robinson grounded out in the next at-bat to squelch the threat.
Over the next three innings the Owls went down in order, except for a one-out double by junior catcher Stephanie Pasquale. Temple loaded the bases with two outs in the fifth but was unable to convert.
“Very undisciplined,” DiPietro said of the team’s hitting in the second game. “[Dayton’s Emily Froment] didn’t throw a strike because we kept swinging at balls at our feet and I don’t blame her.”
Pasquale got hits in both games, extending her hitting streak to 19 games and her on-base streak to 21. The Owls’ white-hot clean-up hitter went 1-for-2 in the first game with a run scored and two walks and 1-for-3 in the second game.
Only McKeon and Prezioso recorded a multi-hit game, both in the first half of the double-header. McKeon finished 2-for-4 with two runs scored and Prezioso went 2-for-4 with an RBI and run scored.
Temple remains a half-game behind Dayton. St. Joseph’s (23-4-1, 7-1 A-10) and Massachusetts (10-17, 6-2 A-10) play Sunday.
The Owls next game is Wednesday at Monmouth for a non-conference double-header.