Between the lines at Hallford Field for the first time in more than a year because of the pandemic-caused cancellation of the 2020 campaign and already with 15 games gone by this season, Temple certainly treated its fans to a warm welcome back Tuesday night.
Two four-run innings were plenty of support for starting pitcher Aaron Wagaman, who went the distance, and the Wildcats topped visiting Bryan 8-1 in Temple’s home debut that also served as the District 12-6A opener for both clubs.
Wagaman allowed two hits, struck out six and faced the minimum in the second through fifth innings in his complete-game performance that also featured some defensive help along the way.
He needed just eight pitches to work his way through a third frame that ended with Mikal Harrison-Pilot’s diving catch in center field. The Wildcats defense also rolled a pair inning-ending double plays as Temple (11-5) — which has won four in a row to match a season-high winning streak — protected its lead in the later innings.
Shortstop Xavier Padilla kick-started a 6-4-3 double play in the fourth, and second baseman Issac Ramos snared a line drive then threw to first base to double up the runner in the fifth.
Starter Mason Ruiz was plenty stingy early for Bryan (6-7), allowing just one base runner through the first two innings. The third started rather ominously for the left-hander, though, much to the delight of the Wildcats faithful.
Ramos reached to open the third on a dropped third strike and stole second before Matt McDonald walked. Ramos then swiped third, Johnny Donoso bunted for a hit, and both Ramos and McDonald scored on Bryan Williams’ one-out single to right for a 2-0 lead.
It was 4-0 one batter later when Wagaman lined a single over the drawn-in second baseman to plate Donoso and Williams.
Back-to-back one-out singles from Isaiah Fach and Ramos provided Temple a chance to extend its advantage in the fourth, but Fach and Ramos were left on third and second after Ruiz fanned the following two hitters to end the inning.
The Wildcats eventually did — rather emphatically — add to the cushion in the fifth with four more runs. Temple capitalized on two Vikings errors for two runs and a 6-0 lead before Fach turned on an offering from relief pitcher Andres DeJesus for a two-run home run to left to make it 8-0.
Bryan picked up its run in the sixth with an assist from an error by Temple, which travels to face Harker Heights on Friday night.