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Baseball loses four in a row

Before the Explorers head into the latter part of the week, they will once again be trying to get some consistency, while looking to halt a four-game losing streak.

On Tuesday afternoon, the Explorers dropped their 14th game of the season in the first round of the Liberty Bell Classic at home to the Lehigh Mountain Hawks. After the Explorers took a 1-0 lead into the second inning, freshman starting pitcher, Kevin Christy gave up a two-run blast. In the top of the third, when Lehigh added to its 3-1 lead with a two-run RBI single, Christy departed the game after going just two innings of work, in which he allowed five runs, eight hits, and struck out one.

When the team trailed 5-1 going into the third inning, the Explorers made the game interesting after senior Justin Handler doubled to score junior TJ Chism and to move freshman Marc Schoch to third base with only one out. From there the Explorers would score their last two runs of the game with two out in the inning.

The Mountain Hawks quickly quelled the momentum and would never let the Explorers have more than one runner on base at any given point for the rest of the game. The 5-4 deficit would be as close as the team would get in its attempts to make a comeback, as they would ultimately go on to lose 7-4.

“We got a lot of men on base today, which is something we’ve done a little better of a job on over the last couple games,” head coach Mike Lake said. “Right now I think our team is feeling pressured by the funk we’ve been going through. I think our guys were trying to do too much. We missed a lot of plays in the infield today. All of us are going to work harder so that we can work our way out of this slump.”

A week ago, the Explorers struggled with getting production out of their offense. As the team was concentrating on turning the page on a four-game losing streak, they pounded Delaware State at home with 12 runs last week.

Before the team started a weekend series against the Temple Owls in Ambler, Pa., the inconsistency was looking as if it were expunged from their bats. Apparently at the conclusion of Friday afternoon’s doubleheader, the Explorers had retrogressed to the agonizing style of play that they exhibited a week ago.

For the second straight weekend, the Explorers were swept in a three-game series against an Atlantic 10 foe. Prior to the weekend series, manufacturing hits was quite a problem for the team. Though the Explorers did improve on this aspect over the course of the last week, they are still finding themselves in trouble when it comes to scoring.

In the doubleheader last Friday, the Explorers ripped off 26 hits, but still managed to lose both games to the Owls.

“What we are missing is guys not getting big enough hits when we have men on base,” Lake said.

Over the course of the last four games, the Explorers have left 36 men on base and have hit into six double plays.

On Tuesday against Lehigh, the Explorers saw shades of its bullpen improving. Finally, the team got the aid from their relief pitchers that they’ve been searching for.

After Christy was pulled, the Explorers bullpen threw seven innings and limited Temple to two runs for the rest of the game, while stranding all inherited runners. While starting pitching has done exceptionally well this season, with the omission of Tuesday’s game, Lake was pleased with how the relievers played against the Mountain Hawks.

“These guys just need to get better control of their pitches,” he said. “It’s going to take some work. We’ve been working on the mechanics with all our pitchers and now it’s just a matter of us trying to get our pitchers to do a better job with their command.”

After hitting .450 at the plate last week, freshman second baseman Jeff Flax went 2-for-17 in the recent four-game slide.

“No player can let themselves get too high on their success, nor too down on when things aren’t going well,” Lake said. “Jeff is a freshman that is still learning how to stay on an even keel with the emotions he feels from the things he does at the plate. He just needs to get his confidence back.”

Although the team went through another miserable week, they still managed to excel in the field. As of Sunday, the Explorers are ranked third in the country in fielding percentage with a .981, behind only Pepperdine and Duke.

“I feel we’ve achieved this by us bringing in more athletes,” Lake said. “The players that we brought in this year have definitely made us better. In practice we have mainly concentrated on our defense and our pitching, which are the two things that will keep any team in any game if you are good at both.

“When you look at the games that we have already played this year, you’ll notice that our games have been close and that is a result of our defense and pitching.”

As the team gets itself ready for another weekend series and another A-10 opponent, they will be putting the recent unfortunate events aside when they host the Xavier Musketeers.

The Explorers are 0-6 in conference play, and have lost eight of their last nine total. The Musketeers come to La Salle with a 13-9 overall record and 4-2 record in conference play. While the Explorers look to move out of the basement of the A-10 standings, Xavier will look to move into the top four.

“The past is over and now we can only look ahead,” Lake said. “Every day is a different day, and we have to take each one how it comes. We can only control what we do as we move forward.”

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