Temple in Akron to Take on the Zips

Temple in Akron to Take on the Zips

The Temple Owls are on the road and set to take on the Akron Zips at InfoCision Stadium — Summa Field (6 p.m. / ESPN 3). If the stadium's name seems like a mouthful, bear in mind that their old home field was named the "Rubber Bowl;" so, they sort of went the other way on that one.

Anyway, on paper, this should prove the Owls' easiest game of 2011. The Zips went just 1-11 in 2010 and opened up their season last week with a 42-0 loss to The Ohio State University. While getting waxed by OSU isn't necessarily the end of the world for a MAC program, consider that Toledo just gave those same Buckeyes one hell of a game from inside the Horseshoe earlier today. It should also be noted that Akron amassed just 90 total yards in the loss.

As for the series history between the Owls and Zips, Temple leads the all-time head-to-head at 13-7; they hold a 6-3 advantage over the Zips in games played at Akron. Last year, in a mid-season match up at Lincoln Financial Field, Temple hammered the Zips by a final score of 30-0. Up just by just six at the half, Temple ripped off 24-straight in the second half to cover the 28-point spread by just 2. They'll be giving 16 today.
With all that in mind, the Owls should nonetheless be wary of a potential letdown. Underestimating the Zips and looking one week ahead toward Penn State seems like the perfect recipe for disaster. Thankfully, coach Steve Addazio's insistence on "taking things one week at a time" should keep Temple directed.

Quarterback Chester Stewart and defensive back Kee-ayre Griffin are set to make their returns for the Owls after serving one-week suspensions and missing the Mayor's Cup. While Griffin will more than likely get his reps, it remains unclear as to whether Stewart will fill in as the No. 2 behind quarterback Mike Gerardi, or if he will instead begin his senior year behind Gerardi's week 1 back-up, sophomore Chris Coyer.

Local forecasts are calling for clear skies and a temperature of 71-degrees at game time. Sounds like a nice night in Akron. 17-1 odds LeBron James shows up to root on the Zips. Who wants action?

Update: With just over six minutes left to play in the 1st quarter, the field has been cleared and the game has entered into a weather delay as a result of storms in the Akron area. So much for that "hourly Weather Channel forecast" we cited above. Meteorology!

We'll update when they come back out.

Update 2: They're back out (7:45 p.m.).

Highly ranked 2018 recruit Brandon Slater verbally commits to Villanova

Highly ranked 2018 recruit Brandon Slater verbally commits to Villanova

The future of Villanova basketball just got brighter.

Brandon Slater, a 6-foot-6 wing and highly touted 2018 recruit, told Scout.com on Wednesday night that he has verbally committed to the Wildcats.

He later made the announcement on Twitter.

Among the 2018 recruiting class, Slater, a product of Paul VI Catholic High School in Fairfax, Virginia, is ranked in the top 30 by Scout.com and top 50 by ESPN.com. He's slated as a four-star talent by both media outlets.

Per ESPN, Slater had offers from Louisville, Maryland, Miami, Syracuse, USC and Virginia Tech. He is Villanova's first commitment for 2018.

"Going up there it just feels like a second home," Slater said, via Evan Daniels of Scout.com. "It gives me a good vibe. It's nothing like all the other schools. I just feel like a Villanova guy. It feels like PVI. It's already home."

Slater and Villanova head coach Jay Wright expressed their excitement on Twitter.

Pete Mackanin maintains positive outlook even though Phillies now have worst record in majors

Pete Mackanin maintains positive outlook even though Phillies now have worst record in majors

BOX SCORE

On the surface, it might appear that the Phillies were done in by one bad inning on Wednesday night. After all, they suffered a 7-2 loss at Citizens Bank Park and the visiting Colorado Rockies scored all of their runs in one hellacious burst in the third inning (see Instant Replay).

But there was more to the loss than just one poor inning by starting pitcher Jeremy Hellickson. The Phillies came to the plate in nine innings against the Rockies pitchers and managed hits in only two of them while finishing the game with just three. It was the third time in the last four games -- all losses -- that the Phillies have mustered just three (expletive deleted) hits. Through the first seven innings in this one, they were out-hit, 11-1.

"Well, once again, three hits," manager Pete Mackanin said afterward. "Not a whole lot of good to talk about."

No, there wasn't. Hasn't been for a while. The Phillies have lost five in a row, 9 of 10 and 20 of their last 24 games. Wednesday night's loss left them with the worst record in the majors at 15-29.

"There's a lot of baseball left, and I know we're better than this," Mackanin said. "We just have to have some kind of spark to get out of it. Win a couple in a row and it could put us on a winning streak."

It’s not going to be easy to start the winning streak in Thursday's series finale against Colorado. The Rockies have the best record in the National League at 31-17 and they have outscored the Phillies, 23-5, in the first three games of the series.

That's a serious beating.

"They have some really good hitters in that lineup and it’s a deep lineup, too," Hellickson said. "There are no easy outs."

Conversely, there have been many easy outs in the Phillies' lineup in this series. The Phils did not get their first hit Wednesday night until Andrew Knapp singled with two outs in the fifth inning. The Rockies’ starting pitchers in this series have held the Phils to two runs in 20 innings. And two of those pitchers were rookies, Jeff Hoffman and German Marquez. Tyler Chatwood pitched seven shutout innings Wednesday night.

The Phillies’ starting pitching in the month of May has been brutal. Phillies starters have a 6.39 ERA in the month, second worst in baseball over that span.

The team is 4-17 in the month.

"It's been kind of surprising," Mackanin said of the rotation's problems this month. "I know they're better than that. We're going to put something together. I believe that. "

Hellickson went 4-0 with a 1.80 ERA in five starts in April. He's been a different pitcher in May. His ERA in the month is a hefty 7.30 in five starts. The difference in the months: Hellickson located his finesse repertoire down in the strike zone in April. He's been up in the zone in May. On Wednesday night, Rockies hitters fought off his middling fastball and didn’t miss his soft stuff because it was up. Carlos Gonzalez had the big hit against Hellickson in the Rockies' seven-run third. He jumped out of his shoes to hack at a 2-1 changeup and hit it for a three-run home run.

"He had poor command of his changeup," Mackanin said. "He was yanking his changeup, not locating it. That's his out pitch. He didn't have it tonight.

"He’s had a lot of good starts for us. When he doesn’t locate, he gives up a run here or there, but he kind of gets it back. For that one inning, it fell apart on him."

Hellickson allowed eight base runners on six hits and two walks in the Rockies' seven-run third inning. He gave up a double, a triple, a homer and three singles in the frame.

"I beat myself that inning by falling behind and walking too many," the pitcher said. "When I did make a good pitch, they found a way to get hits off those, too."

This is the third straight season that the Phillies have endured a 4-20 stretch.

"It's not easy," Hellickson said. "It’s not fun. It's just something you deal with. It’s not fun."

During this stretch, Mackanin has benched his cleanup hitter, Maikel Franco. Otherwise, he has kept his sanity.

"I remember when I took over in '15, the team was scuffling, really not playing well," Mackanin said. "Then something clicked and we started beating teams. Last year, we had a good first part of the season and then kind of scuffled at the end. Sometimes one little thing clicks and you get better.

"In a long season, these things sometimes happen. I remember Atlanta, the first half last year, was terrible. They had a real good second half. I believe we just need to get something going. We're going to put something together. I believe that."