Diamond Owls Split Doubleheader With Xavier
Brant Norlander

Diamond Owls Split Doubleheader With Xavier

Box Score - Game 1 | Game 2

- The Temple baseball team split a doublehead with Xavier on Saturday afternoon at Hayden Field, picking up a comeback win in the first game but come out on the wrong end of a walk-off in the second game.  The Owls are now 14-7, 1-2 in Atlantic 10 play while the Musketeers move to 16-10, 2-1 in A-10 play.

Senior Byron McKoy (3-4, HR, RBI) and junior Jabair Khan each went three-for-four in game one, while senior Adrian Perez went two-for-five with a pair of doubles.  Sophomore Daniel Dragos accounted for the Owls' only other extra base knock, going one-for-five with a double.  Senior Ryan Ferguson continues to find a way to get it done at the plate, extending his hit streak to 22-games by going one-for-four with a single in the fourth.

Junior Brant Norlander (3-0) put in a season-best 8.0 innings of work today, striking out four and allowing just three earned runs to lock in the win.  Redshirt-junior Steve Nikorak took over for Norlander in the ninth, securing the final three outs to earn his first save of the season.  Nikorak was also two-for-five at the plate, driving in two critical runs in the ninth.

XU's Jon Richard lasted 6.2 innings in the start, allowing one run and striking out six.  Marcus Kuykendoll threw 1.1 innings of scoreless relief for the Musketeers, being relieved by losing pitcher Seth Willoughby (1-2).

Xavier took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first, but Norlander settled in and threw four-straight scorless until allowing another run in the bottom of the sixth.  

The Temple offense was making noise all game, finally breaking up the shutout in the top of the seventh to cut the Musketeers lead to 2-1.  McKoy took it upon himself to do some damage, ripping a two-out homer to left.

Just as the Owls closed the gap, Xavier bumped it back out, managing to manufacture one run in the bottom of the eighth to take a 3-1 lead.  Temple would not relent, however, coming back to regain the lead in the top of the ninth.

Khan led off the inning with a single to left, moving over to second on a single by McKoy.  Perez stepped in with a clutch double to score Khan, but the hit of the game was a two-RBI double by Nikorak which gave Temple a 4-3 advantage.

Nikorak relieved Norlander in the ninth and secured the final three outs, stranding three XU runners to lock in the thrilling come-from-behind win for the Owls.

Freshman Matt Hockenberry threw a solid 6.2 innings to start game two, striking out four batters and allowing five runs.  Junior Jimmy Devine came on in relief for Hockenberry, getting the Owls out of a jam in the seventh and going on to secure the first two outs of the eighth.  Nikorak (2-2) stepped up and got the final out of the eighth, returning for the ninth to card the loss.

Ferguson (2-4, 2 HR), Nikorak (1-4, HR) and Remillard (2-4, HR) each drove in two runs to lead the Temple offense.  Ferguson, who went two-for-four with two homers, extended his hit streak to 23 games. 

Xavier's Vinny Nittoli went seven innings and gave up six runs, leaving the game and getting no decision.  Nate Musch earned the win for the Musketeers, going two innings and giving up one run.

The Owls started out game two with three consecutive scoring innings, utilizing the long ball to jump out to a 5-0 lead after three innings of play.  Ferguson ripped a two-out home run to right center in the first to give the Owls their first lead.  In the bottom of the second, Dragos led off with a single up the middle to set up a two-run homer by freshman Will Remillard.  Nikorak got into the long-ball derby in the third, cracking a home run to left center which plated Perez.

Hockenberry held Xavier hitless and scoreless over the first three, but the Musketeers managed two runs on two hits in the fourth to make the score 5-2.  Ferguson posted his second long ball of the game, a towering shot to center, making the score 6-2 to give the Owls more room to work with, but Xavier chipped away at the deficit with a pair of runs in the bottom of the seventh and three more in the seventh to make it a 6-5 game.  

Devine relieved Hockenberry with one out in the seventh, getting the first two outs in the eighth before handing the ball over to Nikorak, who got the final out of the frame.

The Owls picked up one in the ninth to give Nikorak some breathing room for the last three outs.  Junior Cameron Green hit a one-out double to left, scoring on a two-out single by McKoy to make it a 7-5 game.

Nikorak walked a pair in the ninth, but got one out on a fly ball to left center.  XU's Ben Thomas came up with the hit of the game, though, putting a ball over the right field fence to give Xavier an 8-7 walk off win.

Temple returns to the Philadelphia area, traveling to Delaware on March 29 (3:00 p.m.) for the Liberty Bell Classic opening game.
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