Following unplayable conditions at Skip Wilson Field after Monday’s winter storm that postponed Tuesday’s game, Temple (9-11, 1-2 Atlantic 10) defeated Lehigh (11-10, 0-0) 9-3 on Wednesday afternoon.
After the 11-1 defeat of St. Joseph’s on Sunday, the Temple bats came alive once again as the Owls scored nine runs on twelve hits, five of which went for extra bases. Tuesday’s win marks the second time in seven days that the Owls defeated the Mountain Hawks after Temple won the first contest between the two teams 11-8 on March 20.
Starting on the mound for the Owls on Wednesday was sophomore pitcher Adam Dian, who earned his first start of the 2013 season and the third of his two-year career with Temple.
“It was Matt Hockenberry’s turn in the rotation, but he pitched against Lehigh last week so we decided to go with Dian today,” coach Ryan Wheeler said. “He was sort of the next guy in line and he did a good job for us today.”
For the second straight game, Temple was able to score one run in the bottom of the first inning. A single from redshirt-junior designated hitter Daniel Dragos scored senior second baseman Jordan Queja, who reached on a walk, giving the Owls the early 1-0 lead.
Dian finished his first start of the season with three innings pitched allowing three hits, no runs and recording three strikeouts and no walks. Freshman pitcher Tim McCarthy replaced Dian in the top of the fourth inning.
I wanted to save [Dian] for the weekend,” Wheeler said about Dian pitching three innings. “That is really his role; he is a bullpen guy for us.”
The Mountain Hawks responded with their first run of the game in the top of the fourth inning. A sophomore right-fielder Patrick Walshe sac-fly scored junior catcher Joe Abeln, tying the contest 1-1.
In the bottom of the fourth inning, the Owls broke the 1-1 tie with two runs on two hits. With one out in the inning, a double from redshirt-junior center-fielder David Hall scored senior left-fielder Allen Stiles, who reached on a one-out double to right field. Following a Lehigh fielding error, a groundout to shortstop from junior catcher Andrew Nist scored Hall, giving Temple the 3-1 lead heading to the top half of the fifth inning.
Temple extended its lead to 4-1 in the bottom of the fifth inning as a sac-fly to right field with the bases loaded scored sophomore shortstop Nick Lustrino. A foul out and a fly out ended the inning before the Owls could add more runs to their three-run lead.
Trailing by three runs entering the top of the sixth inning, Lehigh was able to shrink the Owls’ lead to one run. A one-out walk drawn by junior designated hitter Tyler Brong followed by a wild pitch and a Abeln single found the Mountain Hawks trailing by two runs. With two outs, Lehigh’s Walshe recorded his second RBI of the day as a double to right field scored sophomore third baseman Connor Faust. At the end of the top of the sixth, Temple led Lehigh 4-3.
For the third consecutive inning in sixth inning, Temple’s offense was able to produce a run as a Queja fielder’s choice scored junior right-fielder Bobby Heitzman, who reached base on a leadoff single. With two outs, a triple to right field from senior third-baseman Henry Knabe scored Queja, while a double to center field from junior first baseman Derek Peterson scored Knabe, giving the Owls the 7-3 lead.
Following a scoreless bottom of the seventh, Temple added two more runs in the bottom of the eighth inning. With his second double of the day, Derek Peterson scored Queja, who reached on a leadoff walk. The final run of match-up came as Dragos singled through the left side, scoring Peterson. Dragos lead all Owls with three RBI against Lehigh on Wednesday.
After three innings pitched from starting pitcher Adam Dian, Wheeler used six different pitchers in six innings to complete the Owls’ ninth win of the season. Redshirt-sophomore pitcher Steve Visnic closed the door on the Lehigh offense in the ninth inning, pitching one inning allowing no hits and no runs while surrendering two walks.
Following Wednesday’s win, Temple will resume A-10 conference play on Friday, March 29 at 3:00 p.m. as the Owls travel to Washington, D.C. for a three-game series against the Colonials.
“We have been doing a good job offensively,” Wheeler said. “Early on we were trying different guys and I told the team that once I find the right nine guys, that is who we are going to go with and I think we have found a good lineup for now.”
John Murrow can be reached at email@example.com or Twitter @JohnMurrow12.