AMBLER, April 9, 2011- With clutch two strike hitting the visiting La Salle Explorers baseball team scored 4 runs in the 6th and 8th inning, then turned to their bullpen to earn an 8 – 6 win over the Temple Owls in a game played at Skip Wilson Field. La Salle took advantage of opportunities against Temple starter Ben White in the eighth inning. Then relief pitchers Dominic Sgroi and Pat Christensen shut down the Temple offense over the last three and two-thirds innings striking out six batters to get the win.
“It is exactly what happened,” said La Salle Coach Mike Lake. “We were waiting too long. We had opportunities early and didn’t capitalize on them. White kept us off balance. Later, he got some balls toward the middle of the plate and we took advantage of it and hit with men on base.”
Leading by one going into the bottom of the fourth the Owls Senior Left Fielder Byron McKoy hit an RBI double to center. With 2 runners on Senior Right Fielder Ryan Ferguson cleared the bases with a double to left center. Ferguson scored on a sacrifice fly to right by Junior Catcher Taylor Juran. The runs gave Temple starter Ben White a 5 – 0 lead. Going into the fourth White allowed only 2 hits.
In the 6th inning La Salle began their comeback a four runs came across the plate. Junior Catcher Marc Schoch started the inning with a single to right. He took second on a wild pitch and scored when Junior Designated Hitter Zack Feierstein singled to center. Junior Right Fielder Jon Gyles hit a double. With runners on second and third Sophomore Shortstop Joe Bennie beat out an infield hit to score Feierstein. Gyles scored on an error on Temple Junior Second Baseman Cameron Green. Bennie crossed the plate on a passed ball to cut the deficit to 5 – 4. White stuck out sophomore Third Baseman Dan Klem to end the inning.
Temple loaded the bases in their half of the inning. The Owls had the bases loaded with one out, but got only one run when Green scored on a passed ball. The Owls had their #3 and 4 hitters, Ferguson and Junior Steve Nikorak coming to the plate. This prompted Lake to relieve starting pitcher Senior Kevin Fuqua, and bring in Freshman left-hander Dominic Sgroi who struck out Ferguson then got Nikorak on a ground out to second.
“What turned it in the other direction was the bottom of the sixth,” said Temple Coach Rob Valli. “We had the bases loaded with one out, and our three and four hitters were up. We didn’t push across anymore runs. That changed the momentum right there.”
White struck out Gyles to start the eighth. Valli was hoping to get through this inning before turning the game over to his bullpen. With two runners on base White struck out Junior Center Fielder Tony Negrin. That would be the last batter he would retire. Junior Left Fielder Brendan Norton was hit by a pitch which loaded the bases. Sophomore Third Baseman Dan Klem got a base hit to right scoring 2 to tie the game at 6 – 6. Norton scored on a wild pitch. Klem came home on a single by Junior second baseman Jeff Flax. That ended the day for White. Nikorak took the mound and retired Schoch to end the inning.
“We had an 0 – 2 count on three consecutive hitters, and were one pitch away from having a chance to win the game,” said Valli. “We needed one more quality pitch.”
Sgroi struck out the side in the eighth, and then Sophomore right-hander Pat Christensen retired the Owls in order in the ninth. The La Jolla, CA native struck out two in earning his eighth save of the season. Sgroi got his second win of the season evening his record at 2 – 2. Fuqua pitched five and a third innings giving up 6 earned runs on 6 hits.
“The first 2 or 3 innings he didn’t have his A-location, but he battled, and showed his character in the fourth, fifth, and sixth inning he shut them down,” said Lake.
White took the loss. He is 3 – 5 on the season. White allowed 8 runs, 5 were earned on 12 hits. The Senior from Parkesburg, PA struck out 9 and walked one.
“He battled, and he is a work horse for us,” Valli said about White. “He gave us a lot of great pitches for seven and two-thirds innings. Twelve hits are too many, but they didn’t hit them all over the ballpark. He struck out 9 and walked 1. He pitched with command.”
White just did not get that one last out. Sgroi and Christensen did.
Klem went 3 – 5 with a run scored and 2 RBI’s. Bennie scored twice and had an RBI for La Salle. Nikorak was 3 – 85 for Temple with a run and an RBI. Ferguson had 2 RBI’s and a run scored. Green had 2 runs scored.
Written By: Glenn Papazian