Richmond, Va. (3/1/14) – After the Owls finished their opening weekend on a sour note losing their final two games, momentum wasn’t in their wings. The (1-2) Owls dropped another pair of games Saturday losing to Virginia Commonwealth University 5-2 and 10-0 on the day.
Opening day starter Matt Hockenberry was on the hill for Temple and was looking to improve to (2-0) on the young season. He held a hot VCU team, (7-1) to begin the season, to just three hits in the first five frames.
Temple threatened early as reigning Big 5 player of the week Robert Amaro stepped in with two men on and only one out in the first. The 1B proceeded to ground into an inning ending double play.
VCU SP Seth Greene matched Hockenberry pitch for pitch. The redshirt senior, looking to improve on an impressive junior season, was cruising through three innings before hitting a speed bump in the fourth.
Owls’ C Michael D’Acunti drove in the first run of the game singling to left after DH Daniel Dragos stole second. Dragos drove in another run on a sac fly as the Owls took a 2-0 lead on the Rams and were looking to cap off a major upset.
While Hockenberry was looking stellar for the Owls after pitching a 1 2 3 inning in the fifth, he would find trouble in the sixth. He allowed three VCU singles to load up the bases and with only one out he was pulled from the game. RP Connor Stasky, faced with the improbable task of getting the next two hitters out while not letting up a run, got the next man to fly out.
Relief pitching had been a plus for the Owls early in the year but Stasky started to unravel as he walked both C Chris Ayres and OF Bill Cullen tying the game at two. He was pulled for RP Zach White who got the last Rams hitter to fly out and end the inning.
With the Rams comeback and home field advantage, Temple had to respond and make a statement. After being shutout in the top of the seventh by RP Matt Lees, White allowed the leadoff man to single to the shortstop and commit an error to put two on. RP Tim McCarthy, no relation to Phillies announcer Tom McCarthy, came in to stop the bleeding.
After a RBI groundout by OF Cody Acker to take a 3-2 lead, McCarthy gave up two RBI singles to VCU hitters as the lead ballooned to three.
The lefty Lees dominated the Owls hitters through three innings striking out five and gave up only two hits. Temple couldn’t get anything going in their final three innings and took the loss 5-2.
RP Zach White (0-1) was dealt with the loss after going only 0.1 innings and letting up two runs. SP Matt Hockenberry improved from his opening start for the Owls but the bullpen imploded once he was pulled.
SP Matt Lees (1-0) picked up the win going a shutdown 3.0 innings with five strikeouts.
DH Daniel Dragos led the Owls going 2-3 at the plate to improve his average to .429 while adding a steal and a run. Rams’ OF James Bunn went 2-4 with two runs and a RBI.
After the loss to the Rams, both teams competed in the second game of the doubleheader shortly after. Simply put, the Owls were blown out of the water.
Owls’ SP Simon Matthews was hit with the battering ram early as OF Bill Cullen highlighted a four run VCU first with a two RBI triple.
Temple’s hitting was non-existent throughout the game as VCU SP Matt Blanchard followed Greene going Clayton Kershaw on the Owls’ hitters.
Mathews turned it around until the fifth where the Temple self-imposed meltdown was about to ensue.
Matthews was pulled after allowing the first two VCU hitters to reach base. RP Phil Gianakos spelled the SP but control problems plagued the junior. In his first outing against Rider, he walked two and hit a batter and VCU took advantage with three walks in the inning.
2B Reyn Sugai botched two plays in the inning leading to two VCU runs and the Rams put up a six spot in the inning to shut the door on a Temple comeback.
The Owls couldn’t put up a single run against VCU as both teams made mass substitutions starting in the bottom of the seventh.
Daniel Dragos once again put up a good performance for Temple going 1-1 with three walks and 1B Robert Amaro continued his hitting streak going 1-4. Simon Matthews (0-2) struggled once again for the Owls going 4.0 innings letting up six runs on six hits. RPs Zach Batchelor and Ryan Keuhn once again pitched scoreless innings in relief going a combined 3.0 innings.
Matt Blanchard (2-0) earned the win for the Rams going 7.0 strong innings with six strikeouts and only giving up two hits.
Temple (1-4) will face the Rams (9-1) once again Sunday at 1:00 P.M. to conclude the series.