Temple prepares for home opener

After opening its season with 12 straight away games, Temple (3-9) will host visiting Lafayette (2-9) in its home opener today at Skip Wilson Field at 3:00 p.m.

This specific game has been circled on the Owls’ schedule as the team has struggled on the road this season through 12 games, coach Ryan Wheeler said.

Temple has a 2-6 record while it is the away team and a 1-3 record when the team is on neutral turf this season.

“There is no doubt about it that opening the season on the road is tough,” Wheeler said. “Finally, we will have our comfortable surroundings, our fans and we will be on our home field.”

In 25 games last season at Temple’s Ambler campus, the Owls compiled a 10-15 record, while putting together a 9-19 record on the road in 2012.

“It’s a home opener and we are definitely excited for it,” sophomore shortstop Nick Lustrino said. “We are definitely expecting a battle and we will do what we can to earn a win at home.”

Wheeler has named junior pitcher Matt Hockenberry the starting pitcher for the game against Lafayette. This season, Hockenberry is 0-1 with a 9.32 ERA with 9.2 innings pitched. The 6 foot 2 inch right handed pitcher has allowed 14 hits, 12 runs (10 earned) and has recorded four walks and eight strikeouts in two starts for the Owls this season.

Opening the season with seven straight losses, the Leopards earned their first win on March 9 against Maryland Eastern Shore and followed with their second win of the 2013 season with a 15-1 victory also against Maryland Eastern Shore on March 10. On the road this season, Lafayette has compiled a 2-8 record.

The Owls will be coming off a 9-6 loss at Longwood and may be making some changes in the lineups, Wheeler said. Wheeler stated he was unhappy with his team’s performance following the March 12 loss in Farmville, Va.

“Everyday I wake up and tell myself it’s a new day and a new game,” Wheeler said. “I hope that we can get on the right track once we start playing at home a little more.”

For the Owls, this will just their second time at the Ambler Sports Complex in 2013. A team practice was held on Tuesday, March 5 and was the first time that Temple was able to practice on a field rather than in a gym.

Sunny skies and temperatures in the high 40’s are expected for the Wednesday’s game against Lafayette with a 30 percent chance of showers from 4-6 p.m.

“We take pride in where we play and we want to show [Lafayette] that this is our turf,” Lustrino said. “You never want to lose at home.”

John Murrow can be reached at john.murrow@temple.edu or Twitter @JohnMurrow12.

One game separates baseball from home opener

On Tuesday, March 12, Temple (3-8) will face off against Longwood (6-8) in Farmville, Va. in a single game beginning at 4:00 p.m.

Coming off of a two-loss weekend to UNC Asheville, the Owls will look to earn their fourth win of the season with redshirt-senior pitcher Dan Moller on the mound against the Lancers, coach Ryan Wheeler said.

In three starts this season, Moller has compiled a 0-2 record with a 10.29 ERA. The senior southpaw has allowed 20 hits and 16 runs while recording nine walks and five strikeouts in 14.0 innings pitched.

In a three-game series last year at Longwood, Temple lost the first two games of the series each by one run until defeating the Lancers 11-1 in the final meeting.

One Owl who is familiar with the Longwood pitching staff is sophomore shortstop Nick Lustrino, who went 8-for-13 last season against the Lancers. Lustrino added four runs and two RBI in the 2012 series.

“I am familiar with [Longwood] from my time coaching in Virginia,” Wheeler said, who spent 15 years of his 17-year coaching career in VA. “They are going to be tough; they are a well-coached team and they will have some strong players.”

Following Tuesday’s game, the Owls will be back in action on Wednesday, March 13 at 3:00 p.m. in their home opener at Skip Wilson Field against Lafayette.

John Murrow can be reached at john.murrow@temple.edu or Twitter @JohnMurrow12.

Baseball heads to UNC Asheville

Coming off of a three-loss weekend in Norfolk, Va. against Old Dominion, the baseball team will look to improve its record against UNC Asheville this weekend.

Beginning on Friday, March 8, UNC Asheville (4-9) will host Temple (2-6) in the first of a three-game series at 3:00 p.m. The two teams will also face off on Saturday at 2:00 p.m. and Sunday at 1:00 p.m.

“We were let down from last weekend and we are now putting that behind us now,” sophomore shortstop Nick Lustrino said. “Right now, everybody has their head on correctly, more than usual actually.”

In three games last weekend, the Owls were outscored 23-6 by Old Dominion. During the three-game series against the Monarchs, the Owls used 12 different pitchers who as a staff combined for a 7.66 ERA.

“We are heading down to North Carolina to play better baseball this weekend,” coach Ryan Wheeler said. “We need to get into a little more of a routine.”

For the first time in 2013, Temple was able to practice outside on a grass field at the Ambler campus this past Tuesday. This practice was exactly what the Owls needed in order to catch up to those teams that have had the ability to practice outside all season, Wheeler said.

“The early season stuff is kind of over,” Wheeler said. “We have had enough reps and have played enough games. We have just got to play better.”

Entering Friday’s matchup, both the Bulldogs and the Owls will be looking to snap a four game losing streak. For Temple, the team has not won a game since Feb. 24 against Holy Cross in a 13-12 offensive battle, while UNC Asheville last won a game on March 2 against Pittsburgh in a 5-4 extra innings win.

In Friday’s 1:00 p.m. matchup, Wheeler said he expects sophomore pitcher Patrick Peterson to start for the Owls. In Patrick Peterson’s last start on March 3, the right-handed pitcher left the game after 6.0 innings pitched while allowing four hits, two runs, one walk and four strikeouts before being replaced by sophomore pitcher Eric Peterson.

“If we play as well as we did against No. 24 Virginia Tech, we expect that we can beat anybody, and that’s the attitude we are going to take heading into this weekend,” Wheeler said.

John Murrow can be reached at john.murrow@temple.edu or Twitter @JohnMurrow12.

Baseball travels to Norfolk for series against Old Dominion

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 john.murrow@temple.edu or Twitter @JohnMurrow12.

Owls rained out again

Due to potential rain in the Blacksburg, Va. area, the baseball team has altered their schedule for this weekend’s games against Virginia Tech and Holy Cross.

Originally scheduled to play two games against both teams, Temple (0-2) will now take on Virginia Tech at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 23. On Sunday, the Owls will play the final two games of the weekend in a doubleheader against Holy Cross starting at 11 a.m. with the second game scheduled for 6 p.m.

This will be the second weekend in a row for the Owls that the team has lost games due to weather. In the USA Baseball Complex Classic last weekend in Cary, N.C., the Owls were unable to play their final two games against Toledo and Monmouth because of snow.

John Murrow can be reached at john.murrow@temple.edu or Twitter @JohnMurrow12.

Owls set for Virginia Tech, Holy Cross

Following an opening weekend that saw Temple’s final two games cancelled due to weather conditions in Cary, N.C., the Owls will be back on the field on Friday, Feb. 22 against Virginia Tech.

On Friday at 3:00 p.m. and Saturday at 6:00 p.m. Temple (0-2) is set to take on Virginia Tech (4-0) despite potential rain forecasts in the Blacksburg, Va. area. Before their second game against Virginia Tech on Saturday, the Owls will face Holy Cross (0-0) at 12:00 p.m on Saturday. In their final game of the weekend, the Owls will once again play Holy Cross at 11:00 a.m. on Sunday, Feb. 24.

“Virginia Tech is an ACC club and they are going to be very talented,” coach Ryan Wheeler said. “They have had the chance to get outside and play some games and I expect them to be very tough. Holy Cross is coming out for the first time this weekend and just as we will, they will be working out their kinks.”

The Owls will be playing an offensively minded Virginia team that likes to show their muscle offensively, Wheeler said. In four games this season, the Hokies have outscored their opponents 34-12.

“Virginia Tech is going to swing,” assistant coach Brian Pugh said. “They are going to get in there and be aggressive. “As far as pitching goes, we have got to execute pitches and try to exploit there weaknesses. We have got some good information on them and we have got to do what we got to do. We have to get ahead in the count and make the hitters be on the defensive side.”

Having tied Temple’s all time lead in appearances on Friday, Feb. 15 in the 8-4 loss to Delaware, redshirt-senior pitcher Steve Visnic will look to set the Owls’ record for appearances in one of the team’s four games this weekend.

“I don’t think [Virginia Tech and Holy Cross] are anything that we cant handle as long as we play our game,” Visnic said. “We just need to stay focused on what we are doing rather than what they are doing and I think we will be alright.”

After last weekend’s tournament in which the Owls gave up 16 runs in two games, eight runs against Wright State and eight runs against Delaware, Temple will look to control their opponents offensive production this weekend, Pugh said.

“We have got a good challenge in front of us this weekend,” Pugh said. “I think we have a chance to do some good things too.”

Baseball games cancelled due to weather

The final two games of the USA Baseball Complex Classic in Cary, N.C., were cancelled due to rain and snow in the area early Saturday morning.

Temple was originally scheduled to play Monmouth at 3 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 16, but the weather forecast in the area had the game rescheduled in attempt to beat the projected conditions. The Owls were then scheduled to play Toledo at 11 a.m. on Saturday, which was then cancelled due to the weather shortly after noon Saturday.

“The snow is really coming down [in Cary, N.C.] and rather than us waiting, they have cancelled the rest of the games this weekend,” coach Ryan Wheeler said.

Both games against Monmouth and Toledo were cancelled for Saturday and Sunday, sending Temple back to Philadelphia earlier than scheduled. After back-to-back games Friday, the first time that the team has been on a field since the fall, the team will take the week to practice for next weekend at Virginia Tech, Wheeler said.

After starting the season yesterday against Wright State with an 8-3 loss, the Owls later fell to Delaware 8-4.

Temple will leave the tournament and begin the season with a record of 0-2-0. The Owls next chance to improve their record will be on Friday, Feb. 22 at 3 p.m. as they head down to Blacksburg, Va., to face Virginia Tech.

Owls begin 2013 season with USA Baseball Complex Classic

Temple will open its 2013 season on Friday, Feb. 15 in Cary, N.C. against Wright State at 12 p.m. in the first game of the USA Baseball Complex Classic.

The Owls are one of the eight teams competing in the three day tournament along with Villanova, LaSalle, Albany, Toledo, Delaware, Canisius, and Monmouth.

Following a 2012 season in which the Owls posted a record of 19-34 (7-17 in Atlantic 10), the Owls lone goal for this weekend is to leave with four wins in four games, red shirt senior pitcher Steve Visnic said.

“I think we have high expectations,” senior outfielder Allen Stiles said. “We played really well this fall and were going to come out and play to the best of our abilities.”

In the first game of the 2013 season, coach Wheeler said red shirt senior pitcher Dan Moller will take the mound against Wright State.

“[Moller] is one of our seniors and one of our leaders,” Wheeler said. “We are going to give him the ball early to get the season going.”

Following the 12 p.m. game against Wright State on Friday, the Owls will face Delaware at 3:30 p.m. Junior pitcher Preston Hill will get his first opportunity to start for Temple against Delaware, a team that can really hit the fastball, coach Wheeler said.

On Saturday, Feb. 16, the Owls will take on Monmouth at 3 p.m. Getting the nod to start is junior pitcher Matt Hockenberry, who led the Owls in wins in 2012 with five.

The final game of the tournament will be played on Sunday morning at 10 a.m. Sophomore pitcher Patrick Peterson will get the start after leading the Owls in innings pitched in 2012 with 84.2 innings.

“A lot of it is on our pitching. We are supposed to have really good pitching this year,” Stiles said. “The pitching staff did really well in the fall. I think we will be able to come up with runs when we need them. As long as the pitchers do their job, we will do ours.”

After the final pitch in a loss to Rhode Island to end the 2012 season, the 2013 season began. Temple has been awaiting this weekend’s tournament all postseason and despite the inability to play on a field or partake in intersquad scrimmages, Wheeler said he hopes to have his team prepared starting on Friday.

“I just want us to go down there and play fundamentally sound baseball,” Wheeler said. “Run, hit, catch, throw. If we can do those things than we’ll be in a position to win each of the games this weekend.