Phillies draft Hockenberry

Roughly two weeks after Matt Hockenberry’s final start in a Temple uniform, the Philadelphia Phillies drafted the senior pitcher with the 262nd overall pick in the ninth round of the MLB First-Year Player Draft Friday.

The Hanover, Pa. native enjoyed a breakout season with the Owls in 2014, posting a 3.18 earned run average with 71 strikeouts in 93.1 innings of work despite a 5-6 record.

His ERA shattered his previous personal mark of 5.04, set last year. In his final start for the Owls, none of Houston’s three runs against him were earned as Hockenberry scattered eight hits, punched out six and took the loss in an error-laden 3-0 defeat to the Cougars on May 21.

Upon his selection at No. 262, Hockenberry marked the sixth collegiate pitcher and eighth collegiate player to be taken by the Phillies.

Baseball wins conference opener

The baseball team beat Memphis on Sunday 4-3, winning its first conference series of the 2014 season.

Entering their first year in the American Athletic Conference, the Owls now have a 7-10 overall record. This is the team’s final season before the university’s athletic cuts will take effect in July.

The baseball team will begin playing at Campbell’s Field in Camden, N.J., on April 4 against Cincinnati.

Offensive woes continue as Owls drop doubleheader

For the second consecutive weekend, Temple baseball had its Friday game cancelled. This time, it was due to cold weather in Richmond, Va.
The offensive troubles continued for Temple on Saturday afternoon, as Temple dropped both games of a double-header to Virginia Commonwealth by a combined total of 15-2.
Since winning their season opener, Saturday marked four straight losses for the Owls – with a combined score in those losses of 36-7.
The first game went scoreless through three innings until Temple struck in the fourth. Sophomore catcher Michael D’Acunti ripped a single into left field, scoring senior outfielder Daniel Dragos – who had singled and stolen a base.
Temple was able to add to the lead in the fifth inning when Dragos drove in sophomore outfielder Jimmy Kerrigan with a sacrifice fly to right field.
Senior pitcher Matt Hockenberry started for Temple, and VCU was finally able to chase him from the game in the bottom of the sixth. After giving up three singles, Hockenberry was removed in favor of sophomore Connor Staskey with the bases loaded. Staskey was able to register an out to the first batter he faced, but he then lost control – walking in back-to-back runs to allow VCU to tie the game. Junior Zach White came in to get Temple out of the jam for the final out.
Both runs were charged to Hockenberry, who registered a no-decision after going 5.1 innings. Hockenberry gave up six hits and struck out four Rams.
The Rams added three runs off of White in the seventh inning, two earned, to take a 5-2 lead.
From there, the VCU bullpen set the next six Owls down in order to finish off the 5-2 win.
In the second leg of the double-header, Temple freshman pitcher Simon Matthews got touched up in the first inning for four runs on four hits as the Rams jumped out to the early lead.
The Owls mustered four hits for the game and never really had a chance. VCU pitcher Matt Blanchard was electric, tossing seven innings while striking out six Owls and conceding just two hits.
The wheels fell off for Temple in the fifth inning, when the Owls committed three errors in the field. VCU capitalized and scored six runs in the inning to take a 10-0 lead, the eventual final score.
The team’s will play again on Sunday, with first pitch scheduled for 1 p.m.

Bats explode in opener

After having its first series snowed out last weekend, the baseball team was anxious to get this season – the program’s last should the cuts not be reversed – underway.

Seven Owls recorded multi-hit games as Temple stormed past Rider University 15-8 in Wilson, N.C., on Saturday afternoon.

Senior Josh Mason smacked four hits and drove in a run and senior Robert Amaro had three hits while driving in four runs.

Right off the bat, it was clear that the Owls were ready to get started.

Temple got RBI hits in the top of the first inning from Amaro, Mason, sophomore catcher Michael D’Accunti and senior outfielder Bobby Heitzman. The Owls had a 5-0 lead before pitcher Matt Hockenberry even took the mound for Temple.

Once he took to the rubber, Hockenberry was solid. The senior right-hander earned the win after going five innings, giving up six runs – three earned – and striking out two.

When he exited the game in favor of junior reliever Phil Gianakos, the score was 12-6 Temple.

Gianakos gave up two runs in the bottom of the sixth but Temple answered right back in the seventh.

D’Accunti blasted a long solo home run, extending the lead to 13-8. Then in the top of the eighth, Derek Peterson and Amaro added an RBI each and the score was 15-8.

Sophomore Tim McCarthy pitched a scoreless eighth and freshman Pat Vanderslice closed out the game in the ninth.

Temple gets back on the field for a double-header on Sunday, taking on UMass-Lowell at 10 a.m. before again playing Rider at 1:30 pm.

Baseball team to play games at Campbell’s Field

Athletic communications announced today that the baseball team will play the majority of conference home games at Campbell’s Field, the home field of the Camden Riversharks, an independent league team.

“We are truly excited to be able to provide a first class venue for our team to perform in this historic season,” Director of Athletics Kevin Clark said in a statement.  “We are also grateful to Camden Riversharks President and General Manager Adam Lorber and his staff for their help in bringing this partnership to fruition.”

The Owls are scheduled to play 11 games in Camden. They will play one other home conference game and all nonconference home games at Skip Wilson Field at the Ambler campus.

The games to be played at Campbell’s Field are listed below. The rest of the schedule will be released next week, according to the press release.

Friday, April 4 vs. Cincinnati at 3 p.m.
Saturday, April 5 vs. Cincinnati at 7 p.m.
Sunday, April 6 vs. Cincinnati at noon.
Friday, April 11 vs. South Florida at 7 p.m.
Saturday, April 12 vs. South Florida at 3 p.m.
Sunday, April 13 vs. South Florida noon.
Friday, May 9 vs. Louisville at 11 a.m.
Saturday, May 10 vs. Louisville at 12 p.m.
Thursday, May 15 vs. Houston at 3 p.m.
Friday, May 16 vs. Houston at 3 p.m.
Saturday, May 17 vs. Houston at 11 a.m.

Nikorak released by White Sox organization

Former Temple standout third baseman Steve Nikorak was released by the Chicago White Sox this weekend.

Nikorak was drafted by Chicago in the 32nd round of the 2012 Major League Baseball Draft. He was let go by the organization just as the 2013 Draft wrapped up.

Nikorak is Temple’s all-time leader in hits with 228, and is tied for seventh for most games started with 182. He was named to the Atlantic 10 Conference first team his senior season, leading the Owls in in hits (62), doubles (14), home runs (7), runs scored (46) and RBIs (42).

The 25th Owl to ever be selected in the MLB Draft, Nikorak broke the news of his release on Twitter.

“Just wanted to thank everyone for their support and encouragement throughout my career,” Nikorak tweeted. “I love you all and none of this would have been possible without my family and friends. When one door closes the next one opens.”

Baseball hosts Villanova in non-conference tilt

Coming off of three consecutive losses to Rhode Island this past weekend, Temple will host Villanova at Skip Wilson Field on Tuesday, April 23 at 3:00 p.m.

The match-up will mark freshman pitcher Connor Staskey’s first start of his collegiate career, who has appeared in 11 games for the Owls this season. The freshman left-handed pitcher has a record of 3-0 with a 4.05 ERA in 13.1 innings pitched.

“[Staskey] was a starting pitcher in high school,” coach Ryan Wheeler said. “He has been in the bullpen this season, but he has earned this start on Tuesday.”

Wheeler hopes that the Owls can provide Staskey with some run support, as Temple scored just three runs in three games against the Rams this past weekend.

“We are a team looking to continue to compete and improve each day,” Wheeler said. “Regardless of our record and how season has gone, everyday is a chance to learn and get better. This past weekend was tough for us but we pitched and played defense very well. We just need to get back on track offensively.”

The Owls will need to replace senior second baseman Jordan Queja, who broke his arm after a hit-by-pitch this past weekend and will miss the rest of the season. Wheeler said he expects senior Elijah Yarborough and freshman Sean Arnott to split time at second base for the remainder of the season.

On the season, the Owls have played better while they are on their home turf. As the home team, Temple is 7-4, compared to 6-13 when playing away from Skip Wilson Field.

Entering Tuesday’s match-up, Wheeler said he expects his players to want more out of a Temple team that dropped in the Atlantic-10 Conference standings following the Rhode Island sweep. While Tuesday is not a conference game, the game will its own bragging rights for the Philadelphia Big 5 match-up.

“The sweep wasn’t part of our game plan this past weekend,” redshirt-senior pitcher Dan Moller said. “We are going to come into Tuesday’s game with a chip on our shoulder.”

John Murrow can be reached at or Twitter @JohnMurrow12.

Baseball to take on Rhode Island

After taking the final two games of a three-game series against conference opponent Virginia Commonwealth last weekend, Temple (14-17, 5-7 Atlantic 10) will travel to Kingston, RI for a three-game series against Rhode Island (19-17, 6-3 A-10).

Despite falling 2-1 in last Friday’s match-up against the Rams, the Owls were able to take Saturday’s meeting behind a strong pitching performance behind sophomore pitcher Eric Peterson and finished the weekend with two runs in the eighth inning to take Sunday’s meeting 4-3. Coming off of their first series win last weekend, coach Ryan Wheeler said hopes his team can stay hot.

Rhode Island has had a lot of success in the past four to five years,” Wheeler said. “They’ve had a tough early schedule so I don’t think their record is indicative of the kind of season they are having. They are also well coached so I believe this is going to be a very tough test for us.”

In the Owls first game on Friday at 3:00 p.m., sophomore pitcher Patrick Peterson will start on the mound. Despite 8.0 innings pitched, Peterson allowed nine hits, two runs, one walk and five strikeouts in his fourth loss of the season. In 2013, Peterson has started eight games for Temple, compiling a 1-4 record with a 4.10 ERA.

On Saturday at 1:00 p.m., Eric Peterson will look to continue his dominance against the A-10. In last Saturday’s match-up, Peterson hurled 7.0 innings, allowing four hits and one earned run while adding one walk and seven strikeouts. In his first season in the starting rotation, Peterson leads the Owls with a 5-0 record with a 1.82 ERA.

In the series finale on Sunday at noon, Wheeler has yet to announce his starting pitcher. Redshirt-senior pitcher Dan Moller, junior pitcher Matt Hockenberry and junior pitcher Preston Hill are among the candidates Wheeler said he may choose from.

“They pitch, they play defense and it looks like they also run a little bit,” Wheeler said about Rhode Island. “They also bunt, play the short game, but they don’t have a lot of power. They are at the top of the conference for a reason.”

Rhode Island will enter the weekend sitting in the sixth position in the A-10 standings, while Temple holds the ninth spot.

Although Rhode Island does not have one batter hitting above .300, 40 extra-base hits have allowed the Rams to score 174 runs in 36 games. On the mound, Temple is likely to face Rhode Island pitchers Sean Furney and Mike Bradstreet, who have combined for nine of the Ram’s 19 wins on the season.

“Hopefully [Temple] can do okay this weekend,” Wheeler said. “It is definitely going to be a tough test for us.”

John Murrow can be reached at or Twitter @JohnMurrow12.

Baseball headed to Richmond

Coming off of a 9-7 comeback victory against St. Peter’s on Tuesday, Temple (12-16, 3-6 Atlantic 10 Conference) will travel to Richmond, VA for a three-game series against VCU (15-15, 2-4 A-10).

After 14 seasons of coaching experience in Virginia, Wheeler had grown very familiar with VCU during his time with William & Mary and Richmond.

“[VCU] is a program that I have known very well for a lot of years,” Wheeler said. “They are going to have good players and are well coached. This year has been up and down for them, but I expect them to be good.”

For the first match-up on Friday, Wheeler said sophomore pitcher Patrick Peterson will be the starting pitcher for Temple in the game scheduled for 6:00 p.m. In seven starts this season, Peterson is 1-3 with a 4.46 ERA.

On Saturday at 3:00 p.m., Wheeler expects sophomore pitcher Eric Peterson to start for the Owls unless he relieves his brother on Friday night to seal a victory. On the season, Peterson leads Temple with a 4-0 record and a 1.91 ERA.

In Sunday’s matchup scheduled for 1:00 p.m., Wheeler has yet to decide on a starting pitcher.

“I think this series should be a lot of fun,” sophomore shortstop Nick Lustrino said. “We will be playing in a minor league park, which is pretty cool. [VCU] has a good history, but we believe they are beatable. Hopefully we will go down there and win a few games this weekend.”

After scoring nine runs in Tuesday’s defeat of St. Peter’s, Temple will look to keep the offensive production going as the team compiled a four-run eighth inning. Offensively the Owls were led by Lustrino who recorded three hits and three RBI in the victory.

“I expect [VCU] is going to make it a tough series for us, but we are going to go out there and try to get it done.”

John Murrow can be reached at or Twitter @JohnMurrow12.

Temple to host St. Peter’s

After dropping two out of three conference games to La Salle this past weekend, Temple will host St. Peter’s at 3:00 p.m. on Wednesday, April 10 at Skip Wilson Field.

In Sunday’s matchup, the Owls used five different pitchers after redshirt senior starting pitcher Dan Moller was relieved after 2.0 innings. For Wednesday’s meeting with the Peacocks, coach Ryan Wheeler has not made a decision on who will start on the mound.

“It will probably be a little bit of a staff day,” Wheeler said. “Right now, I am probably leaning towards [sophomore pitcher] Adam Dian.”

Temple’s pitching staff with face a tough presence in the form of St. Peter’s senior Pat Farrell who leads the Peacocks offensively in non-conference games this season, batting .333 (12-for-36) in 14 games.

The Owls will also enter Wednesday’s meeting losers of four out of their past five games, winning the lone contest in a complete game shutout delivered from sophomore pitcher Patrick Peterson against La Salle on Saturday.

This season against non-conference opponents, Temple is 8-10, but is 3-0 against non-conference opponents at Skip Wilson Field this season.

“Regardless right now of who the opponent is, I am more concerned about what is going on in our dugout and how we are playing,” Wheeler said. “I told these guys we are not quitting; there is still a good part of the season left and we are going to keep working to try and get better.”

John Murrow can be reached at or Twitter @JohnMurrow12.