The red-hot Temple Owls baseball team solidified itself atop the Atlantic 10 by taking three of four games in a crucial stretch last week. The Owls (17-21, 11-2) garnered a split with St. Joseph’s and collected a two-game sweep over preseason favorite George Washington.
The scores to the games were 15-8 and 7-11 versus the Hawks, and 3-0 and 9-6 against the Colonials.
Mr. Consistency Greg Powell starred in both series. Powell pitched a complete-game shutout in Temple’s 3-0 win over George Washington, and provided relief help to salvage Temple 15-8 victory over St. Joe’s.
Powell’s performance last week earned the Council Rock grad his second A-10 Pitcher of the Week award in the month of April. In 34 innings of work, he has only allowed 3 earned runs (0.79 ERA) in conference play.
The Owls only held a game-and-a-half lead over the Colonials coming into their series, which easily made this two-game set the biggest of the Owls’ season. Realizing the importance, both teams turned to their aces in the first game as Powell (5-5) and GW’s Jason Baker (5-3) engaged in a much-anticipated pitchers’ duel.
Temple was able to scrape together single runs in the first, third and fifth innings, while Powell was able to shut the door on every GW opportunity. Powell never allowed a runner to advance past second base, and got of out of a key two-on, one out situation in the final inning to secure the victory.
The second game between these two teams turned out to be a slugfest. After GW put up two early runs in the top of the first, the Owls retaliated by cutting the lead in half in the bottom of he inning, then exploded for a whopping seven runs in second inning to take an 8-2 lead.
The Owls’ seven-run burst included four home runs in the inning off Colonial pitcher Glen Skutnik. GW scored a single run in the third and fourth innings, and Dan Rouhier’s two-run homer in the fifth put GW within striking distance at 8-6.
But that was the closest the Colonials would get as the Owls scored a run in the bottom of the sixth and shutout GW in the seventh to walk away with the sweep.
The Owls carried over their hot bats into the St. Joe’s series. Temple pounded previously undefeated pitcher Jeff Wyatt (3-1) for 15 runs on 11 hits, including an eight-run fourth inning en route to a 15-8 victory.
Kyle Sweppenhiser and Chris Krusen each had three RBI, and leadoff man Jim Tully scored three runs. Temple starting pitcher Jeff Rugg (7-3) picked up his team-high seventh win of the season.
In the second game, the Hawks used a 15-hit assault to end Temple’s longest winning streak of the season at seven games.
The Owls trailed throughout, but managed to tie the game at 6-6 after a three-run fifth inning. Both the Hawks and Owls scored a run in the bottom of the fifth, and top of the sixth, respectively. But the Hawks Jim Reilly drove in what turned out to be the game-winning run, as the gritty Hawks put up a four-runs in the bottom of the sixth to steal the game, 11-7.
Jim Boylan (3-5) received the victory for the Hawks, and Brandon Bruno (2-2) took the loss for Temple.
Kyle Sweppenhiser finished the doubleheader 5-for-7 with two doubles and four RBI. Junior Joe Lyall had two hits in the second game to reach the coveted 100-hit mark as an Owl.
With the Owls’ recent success, they now hold a three game lead over second-place George Washington.
For the first time this season, the Atlantic 10 has granted both Co-Players of the Week and Co-Pitchers of the Week honors.
St. Joe’s third baseman Bob Gibson and Rhode Island centerfielder Jon Scullin are both A-10 Players of the Week. Gibson hit two game-winning homers against LaSalle, and drove in four RBI against Temple, while Scullin hit two homers, scored 10 runs, and even pitched a five-hit, two-run, complete game victory over Fordham in what was an eventful week for him.
Joining Powell for A-10 Pitcher of the Week honors was Xavier sophomore Kevin Cave. Cave pitched a two-hit, complete game shutout in the Musketeers 2-0 win over St. Bonaventure. Cave struck out five and walked only one batter in the contest.