After taking two of three games last weekend in Blacksburg, Va., Temple (2-3) will travel to Norfolk, Va. for a three-game series against Old Dominion (2-3).
The Owls will open the weekend against the Monarchs on Friday, March 1 at 3:00 p.m. Coach Ryan Wheeler projected that redshirt-senior Dan Moller will start for the Owls. In the first two weekends of the season, Moller has started the first game of both weekends, entering Friday’s game with a 0-1 record and an ERA of 8.00 in nine innings pitched.
Temple will face Old Dominion again a day later on Saturday, March 2 at 2:00 p.m. Wheeler deemed junior pitcher Matt Hockenberry as his starter for game two of the three-game weekend. Hockenberry will enter Saturday’s game with a 6.00 ERA in six innings of work and has yet to earn a decision.
In the final game of the weekend on Sunday, March 3, the Owls will close out the series at 1:00 p.m. against the Monarchs in Norfolk, Va. Although Wheeler said he is eager to get junior pitcher Preston Hill another start, it will be sophomore pitcher Patrick Peterson on the mound for the Owls. Peterson is 0-1 on the season with an ERA of 11.25 in 4.0 innings, while leading all Owls in strikeouts with seven.
“What I am hoping for after turning in a good weekend is that we don’t have a letdown this weekend,” Wheeler said. “You can think you have arrived as a team after having a good weekend and beating a nationally ranked team, but we need to go out and continue to play the same way we did this past weekend and build on it. “
Entering play Friday, the Monarchs will headlined by an array of big name bats including junior first baseman Ben Verlander, younger brother of Detroit Tigers’ pitcher Justin Verlander. This season, Ben is batting .333 in 9 at-bats, while posting a .556 slugging percentage.
“I don’t have any expectations from [Old Dominion], but I expect a lot from us,” junior first baseman Derek Peterson said. “I know we are going to go in there very strong. That’s what we have realized, every game is about us. As long as we play our game, we can compete against anyone and I think that we really showed that this past weekend.”
After an impressive display at the plate last weekend, Wheeler said he hopes his team can keep up the offensive production. Sophomore shortstop Nick Lustrino, senior third baseman Henry Knabe, and junior first baseman Derek Peterson headline what has become a dangerous 2-3-4 combination in Wheeler’s batting lineup. Against Virginia Tech and Holy Cross this past weekend, the trio went 18-for-40, while adding three doubles, two triples and one home run.
“I’m hoping for good starting pitching. I hope we play better defense and I hope we continue with our solid approach to the plate,” Wheeler said. “If we do that and the outcomes of the games don’t turn out our way, I will be happy because I know we are getting better and we’re building. I think if we do those things we should be in a position to win.”
John Murrow can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or Twitter @JohnMurrow12.