The chances of the baseball team making the Atlantic Ten Conference tournament are all but gone now.
Rhode Island finished its weekend sweep of the Owls with a 7-4 win at Ambler Field on Sunday. It marked the Owls’ third consecutive defeat in an A-10 series and their 10th straight conference loss.
The Rams’ victory wasted a solid outing from sophomore Tom Dolan, who was coming off his shortest appearance of the season last weekend at Fordham. Dolan surrendered four runs – only two of which were earned – in his 6.2 innings Sunday.
“I had to come back from my bad outing and try to keep it close,” Dolan said. “Once you get a lot of runs on the board, it’s hard to return from that. I just tried to keep things short and keep us in the game as best as I could.”
With the Owls on top 4-2 in the top of the sixth, Dolan checked out of the game. His replacement, Rob Licata, entered with runners on first and second with two outs.
Licata delivered a 2-2 pitch to Rhode Island catcher Zach Zaneski. The sophomore pitcher briefly paused, thinking he had struck out Zaneski looking.
The call wasn’t there.
On the next pitch, Zaneski laced a triple down the right field line past fully extended outfielder Devon Swope to tie the game at 4.
“Some pitchers are going out there doing the best that they can,” Dolan added. “Basically I think that it’s just mental. Some balls are hard to catch. But it’s just the way that the ball is rolling this year.”
Temple’s bullpen threw 2.1 innings and allowed five hits, five runs and two walks.
Dolan did not allow a Rhode Island runner to reach third base until the top of the sixth.
With runners on first and second, Rams outfielder C.J. Simons lofted a ball into left centerfield. Sophomore Frank Nunan tracked down the ball but watched helplessly as it tipped off his glove to put two Rhode Island runs on the board.
Temple coach Rob Valli said pitching, not fielding, has been an issue all season.
“We don’t pitch with very much command,” Valli said. “Our catcher [Steve Mury] saved a run there late. We are getting an outstanding effort out of [him]. To be honest, we just struggle on the mound.”
The Owls (7-26, 1-11) manufactured three runs off of Rhode Island starting pitcher Adam Perkins in the first inning. Third baseman Dan Brady brought home centerfielder Jamie Abercrombie with a single, before designated hitter Lenny DelGrippo knocked in Nunan.
First baseman Pat Riley knocked in the third run of the inning as the Owls jumped out to an early 3-0 lead.
Swope later plated Brady in the bottom of the fifth with a double to make the score 4-0 in favor of the Owls.
“We are not doing it with any consistency with runners on base,” Valli said. “That’s where we’ve been in low scoring games and we haven’t been able to knock runners in when they are in scoring position.”
Brady and freshman Carmen Del Mastro each had two hits in the game before the bullpen surrendered Dolan’s lead and the Owls’ potential first win since April 5 versus Lehigh.
“We are at the point now where we are finding ways to lose,” Valli said. “… [The Rams] are having a strong year for their program and they found a way to win. I don’t know if it wasn’t as much that we found a way to lose [on Sunday].”
Kevin Maloney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.