The Owls split their opening series 1-2.
The baseball team opened up its season with a three-game series against Old Dominion in Norfolk, Va., where first-year coach Ryan Wheeler picked up his first win at the helm for Temple.
The Owls lost the first game of the year on Friday in extra innings by a score of 5-4. On Saturday, Temple split a doubleheader by winning the first game 5-4 in 10 innings, while losing the second game 6-2.
After falling in extras to the Monarchs on Friday, the Owls remained optimistic about the second day of the opening series.
“I told the guys before our first game on Saturday that we will find out how good we are, as good teams find a way to win games,” Wheeler said.
As a team, the Owls combined for a .224 team batting average. Redshirt-junior catcher Matt Elko led the Temple squad with a .500 batting average, while senior catcher Taylor Juran batted .444 during the three-game series.
The Owls’ pitching staff held Old Dominion to a .181 team batting average during the series. Senior pitcher Brant Norlander pitched three scoreless innings allowing one hit and one walk. Temple also got help from freshman Adam Dian, who pitched one inning with one strikeout to earn his first collegiate win.
“It was good to get out there and play,” Wheeler said. “I was happy with a lot of the things we did and we easily could have taken all three of those games.”
Since the fall, the team has been preparing every day for the start of the season.
“I have seen a dramatic improvement with each day in our team,” Wheeler said.
The weak winter season has allowed for the Cherry and White to get outside and practice at Ambler on the field, rather than inside in McGonigle Hall.
“Right now, we are further than I thought we would be,” Wheeler said. “With warmer weather than usual, the team has been able to play outside and accomplish more than they could inside. “I have been able to see different guys at different positions, and we will just have to see who takes advantage of the opportunity.”
Wheeler, who coached as an assistant at Richmond during the past five years, said receiving the head coaching job at Temple was “the opportunity of a lifetime.”
“The players here at Temple are tougher,” Wheeler said. “Due to colder weather, it is harder to prepare the team inside than at Richmond.”
In Wheeler’s first season with the Owls, he said that his goals include changing the team’s culture and the attitude.
“Temple has enjoyed success, but the players were always waiting to lose,” Wheeler said. “As a coaching squad, we want to instill the attitude of finding a way to win instead of losing.”
For now, the Owls will continue to prepare for the next three-game series this weekend against North Carolina A&T in Greensboro, N.C.
“If we play as good as we did in Old Dominion, we will win a lot more games this coming season,” Wheeler said.
John Murrow can be reached at email@example.com.