Baseball: Owls get late rally, but Explorers hold on for win

By Samuel Botwinick

The Temple News

What looked like it might be a blowout early on ended up being a close game, with the La Salle Explorers edging out the Owls in a 9-7 victory at Skip Wilson Field at Ambler Campus.

The Explorers’ early outburst came in the first and third innings, with junior shortstop Joe Bennie driving in two runs with an RBI double in the top of the first.

The top of the third proved to be an eventful inning for both Owls’ senior starting pitcher, Dan Moller and fellow freshman pitcher Adam Dian, who proceeded to walk several batters, including throwing a wild pitch that led to a run.

The Owls began to regain momentum at the top of the ninth, thanks to the bats of redshirt-senior third baseman Steve Nikorak, junior designated hitter Elijah Yarborough, senior second baseman Foster Dunigan and redshirt-junior first baseman Matt Elko. Elko came up with a clutch two-run single in the bottom of the seventh to bring the Owls within one run.

Another contributor for the Owls was freshman relief pitcher Eric Peterson, who was able to neutralize the bats of the Explorers. Peterson pitched a career-high six innings of one-run ball, giving up three hits, while notching a career-high of five strikeouts.  His only blemish was a solo shot yielded to Explorers’ sophomore center fielder George Smith Jr.

Peterson was confident in his “stuff” today and he was pleased with the way he pitched.

“I thought I threw pretty well today,” Peterson said. “I hit my spots. I was able to get out batters, so hopefully I’ll be able to gain confidence off that and move on to the next game, I guess.”

Reigning Atlantic Ten Conference Player of the Week, Nikorak, was the primary source of offense for the Owls, driving in two runs and collecting two doubles in the process. Nikorak contributed on defense as well, when he made a catch that prevented the Owls from giving up potential runs in the top of the seventh.

He explained what was going through his head when he attempted that catch.

“ Well, I was just trying to get over to that dug out and try to find the fence, and it worked out from there,” Nikorak said.

Coach Ryan Wheeler put the game in a nutshell.

“I thought it was sort of a tale of two games,” Wheeler said.

The Owls look to rebound today as they travel to Penn to take on the Quakers.

Samuel Botwinick can be reached at