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PHILADELPHIA – For the third straight day, the St. Bonaventure baseball team (20-20, 10-8 Atlantic 10) jumped out to a huge lead and received solid starting pitching en route to an 8-1 win and series sweep of Temple (21-24, 3-15 A-10) Sunday afternoon.
The three-game series sweep is the second of the year for the Bonnies, who two weeks ago took all three games from Saint Louis. It's the first time since the 2006 season that St. Bonaventure has swept two A-10 series in the same year. In that campaign – a season in which it finished as the A-10 runner up – it took both games of a rain-shortened three-game set with Rhode Island and swept all three from Xavier.
The win now puts Bonaventure in a four-way tie for fifth place in the A-10 at 10-8 along with Richmond, Xavier and Fordham. The Bonnies hold the tiebreaker over Fordham with two weekends remaining, and Xavier will travel to Fordham in the season's final weekend May 19-21. The top six teams receive a bid to the postseason tournament.
Against the Owls Sunday, St. Bonaventure scored in each of the first six innings, and after 3½ innings held a 6-0 lead – a trend which became a theme in the set against Temple. In Friday's opener, the Bonnies had an 8-0 lead after 3½ innings, and through 3½ innings on Saturday possessed a 7-0 advantage.
Bona starter Cael Johnson was brilliant in picking up his fourth win of the year by tossing seven innings in which he scattered seven hits and allowed just that one earned run. The right hander struck out four and served as the final piece of a dazzling starting pitching effort by the Bonnies' top three hurlers against the Owls.
While runs were at a premium for Temple, the Bona bats had little trouble lighting up Owl arms all weekend, and that continued Sunday.
The Bonnies opened the scoring in the top of the 1st when sophomore Billy Urban grounded out to short to score Jamie Wallschlaeger from third.
St. Bonaventure added a pair of runs in the 2nd, started by an infield single to the left side from Eric Jutca. The designated hitter advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Alex Calderon, and eventually moved to third on a single by freshman Justin Brozick. Following a Brad Steinbach walk which loaded the bases, Wallschlaeger sent a two-out, two-run single up the middle to give the Brown and White a 3-0 advantage.
The lead only stretched further in the 3rd when Calderon continued his hot streak at the plate by driving a single to right on a 2-0 count to plate Grieco, who had reached via a single to center with one out. In Saturday's game, both Calderon and Grieco recorded career highs for hits with four each.
The Bonnies added another pair of runs in the 4th, and plated an additional run in both the 5th and 6th innings to open up an 8-0 lead before Temple scored its only run of the afternoon in the bottom of the 6th.
Steinbach, Wallschlaeger, Jutca, Calderon and Jason Radwan all collected two hits on the day. Urban finished 1-for-5, extending his hitting streak to 13 straight games, the longest by a Bona hitter this year and longest of the sophomore's young career. Radwan also ran his streak to eight consecutive games with a hit, and 10 straight in conference games.
Steinbach and Calderon each collected seven hits over the three games, leading an offense which as a whole pounded out 46 hits against Owl pitching. A quintet of Bonnies also collected four RBI on the weekend.
Temple entered this weekend as the nation's best-hitting team, connecting at a .337 clip. The Owls were also seventh in the nation in runs scored, crossing the plate an average of 8.4 times per game. However, Johnson's outing Sunday capped a weekend in which the Bona starting rotation allowed just two earned runs over the three games.
On Friday, starter Eddie Gray threw six innings and allowed a three-run home run; however, those runs were all unearned. Saturday, Jordan Crane allowed just one earned run over eight complete innings. The Bona starters pitched to the tune of a 0.86 ERA against Temple, limiting the Owls to just five total runs and three extra-base hits.
The win is the 20th of the year for St. Bonaventure, marking the 18th time head coach Larry Sudbrook has won 20+ games in a season. Now in his 26th campaign in charge of the Bonnies, Sudbrook has won 20 or more games 15 of the last 18 years.
The team returns to action at home on Thursday when it opens a crucial three-game A-10 set against Dayton. First pitch of the penultimate conference series is scheduled for 4 p.m. from Fred Handler Park.