MACOMB, Ill. – Western Illinois baseball (13-28-1, 3-13) will play its final home games this weekend as IPFW (13-31, 5-11) comes to town for a four-game series. Sunday will be Senior Day and the 12 seniors will be honored before the series finale.
The Leathernecks look to get back on track after losing eight straight Summit League games with back-to-back sweeps at the hands of Oral Roberts and Oakland. The Oakland series featured two walk-off victories for the Golden Grizzlies.
The Match Up
Who • IPFW (13-31, 5-11) at Western Illinois (13-28-1, 3-13)
When • Friday, May 4 (3:30 p.m.) • Saturday, May 5 (Noon & 3:30 p.m.) • Sunday, May 6 (Noon)
Location • Macomb, Ill. • Alfred D. Boyer Stadium (502)
OAKLAND RECAP: The Summit League losing streak reach eight games as the Leathernecks dropped all four at Oakland including two walk-off victories for the Golden Grizzlies. In game one, Western led for 26 outs on Friday but Oakland was able to piece together a three-run ninth inning to steal the win, 3-2. The inning included three hits and one costly Leatherneck error. The Leathernecks continued to search for wins during Saturday’s doubleheader but Oakland would sweep both games including another walk-off winner in game one, 11-10, and used two four-run innings in the second game to cruise the 3-0 series lead with an 8-1 victory. In game four, the Purple & Gold attempted a late rally but Oakland was able to hang on for the 6-4 victory and the series sweep as postseason hopes begin to fade away for the Leathernecks.
CDB/WIU: College Baseball Daily (www.CollegeBaseballDaily.com) has teamed up with the Western Illinois baseball team and will feature a weekly journal with an entry from a Leatherneck player or coach. The site is a great source for college baseball news around the nation and will spotlight the current season for Western with various viewpoints from the players and staff.
CATCH THE LEATHERNECKS ALL SEASON LONG VIA THE INTERNET: For the third straight year Western Illinois Baseball will be broadcast live on the internet (Rocky Vision) for free. Fans can log onto www.GoLeathernecks.com and click on the icon to Listen Live.
KEDROSKI SMASH: Nearly fodder for a movie script, Steve Kedroski collected his first collegiate home run at Iowa on 4/10. Even better, it was a grand slam to put the Leathernecks on top, 6-5. The left-hander sent a no-doubter over the right field wall to cap a five-run inning and gave Kedroski the first four-RBI game of the season for the Purple & Gold.
SCOUTING THE MASTODONS: Head Coach Bobby Pierce (New Mexico State, 2002) is in his seventh season (115-195) as the Mastodon head coach. This season the Mastodons are 13-31 this season and 5-11 within league play. The ‘Dons are coming off a 1-3 series with NDSU. Clay Hathaway is leading the team with a .305 average and has hit 11 doubles. Kristin Gayday is hitting .253 with 22 RBI while Carter DeBoe leads the way with six home runs and 33 RBI and 14 stolen bases. As a team, IPFW is hitting .234 with a .311 slugging percentage and a .313 on-base percentage. The rotation is led by Chuck Weaver who is 3-5 with a 3.96 ERA with a team-high 67 Ks. Jason Kalber is 4-7 with a 7.54 ERA while Travis Reboulet is 0-6 with a 5.86 ERA. Kyle Sorensen is 1-3 with a 7.54 ERA. The staff carries a 6.74 ERA with 256 strikeouts in 360.1 innings.
FRONTLINE POWER: The Purple & Gold continue to get solid starting pitching from Rich Mascheri, Dustin Hunter, Nick Smith and Dan Russell. The four have combined for a 4.02 ERA over 237 innings on their way to ten victories. The four have struck out 216 hitters. The 13 strikeouts by Smith against SUU matched the third most in program history. Hunter and Russell both tossed complete games against NDSU. Hunter has 78 strikeouts in 60.0 innings.
LEATHERNECKS CHALLENGE UGA: Western Illinois played three close at 8th-ranked Georgia, and was able to come away with a series-finale victory... UGA took a 4-0 lead into the ninth inning of game one before Matt Igara hit his first home run of the season but that would be all the offense Western got in a 4-1 defeat. Rich Mascheri struck out five in six innings of work, allowing four runs on nine hits. Philip Tolman pitched two scoreless innings of relief, allowing just one hit. Austin Cowen had two of the team’s four hits...Dustin Hunter fanned eight Bulldogs in seven innings of work during game two. The senior right-hander allowed two runs (one earned) on four hits, but a walk-off single in the ninth proved to be the difference in a 3-2 defeat...Dan Dispensa and Ryan Cowhey had two hits apiece and Vince Howard delivered a two-run single in the fourth inning. Both teams left eight runners on base. Howard stole two bases and Dispensa had one... In the finale,Nick Smith held Georgia to two runs through the first seven innings and the offense erupted for four runs in the second and three more in the fourth-fifth frames, eventually winning 7-4. Smith struck out seven in 7.2 innings, allowing four runs (two earned) on six hits.
GRAND THEFT: Western Illinois continues to place a renewed emphasis on stolen bases, entering this weekend ranked 48th nationally with 1.45 steals per game and 56th with 61... Individually, Ryan Cowhey stands 33rd averaging 0.52 steals per game (22-for-23 in 42 games) and 29th with 22 steals... Cowhey’s four stolen bases were the most by a Leatherneck in a game since Anthony Kaskadden swiped four at Samford last year.
OTHER NATIONAL RANKINGS: According to the most recent release, Dustin Hunter ranks also ranks eighth in strikeouts per nine innings (11.7) and 29th in strikeouts (78).
TOUGH LUCK: Western starters have been dealt some bad luck this season... against NDSU Rich Mascheri went 7.1 innings and struck out nine batters while allowing just five hits and three unearned runs and drew his fourth no decision on a quality start this season... Dustin Hunter tossed six innings, striking out eight and allowing just two runs but was saddled with the loss... Nick Smith had the strikeout pitch working against SUU, collecting 13 punchouts over a complete seven innings.
TURNER TURNING: Freshman Brent Turner has started the last 13 out of 14 games at second base or shortstop and has shown potential of being a piece in the development of the Leatherneck program. He doubled at Iowa and drove in a run on Saturday vs. Southern Utah... went 1-for-2 during game two on Sunday vs. NDSU with a sacrifice bunt.
SUMMIT LEAGUE AWARDS: Freshman Nick Smith was named Summit League ‘Co-Pitcher of the Week’ on March 5 for his performance at Georgia, making it three consecutive weeks to start the season a Leatherneck pitcher picked up the weekly award (Rich Mascheri - Feb. 20, Dustin Hunter - Feb. 27). Dan Dispensa collected ‘Player of the Week’ honors on Feb. 20.
SHREDDER: Senior outfielder Ryan Cowhey continues his final season in the Purple & Gold... in the three games at Western Kentucky, Cowhey hit .556 (5-for-9) with two runs, a double and three RBI. Cowhey, mostly batting leadoff for the Leathernecks, is leads the team with 17 walks. Currently, Cowhey is hitting .289 with 11 doubles and 19 RBI... he hit his first home run of the season on against Bradley... drove in two runs in game one on Sunday vs. NDSU... collected three RBI in the ORU series.
LEATHERNECK NOTES: Dustin Hunter has 78 strikeouts in 60 innings and the staff overall has fanned 291 batters to 199 walks... Opponents are batting .270 against the Leathernecks and .242 against Hunter... Matt Igara leads the team with 17 hit-by-pitches... Cowen leads with 34 RBI... The Leathernecks have a higher on-base percentage (.351) than slugging percentage (.333)... Defensively, Reyes has also thrown out 13 base runners trying to steal... Mascheri has seven of Western’s 13 pickoffs this year.
RECORD WATCH: Tom Lilja and Dan Dispensa is closing in on the top ten list for career hits. Lilja is now tenth with 164 hits and Dispensa has 158. Kerrick Leatherwood was tenth with 157 hits from 1993-96. Ryan Cowhey has 34 stolen bases in his career. Edward Brooks is tenth with 39 stolen bases. The season stolen base record is 40 by Mike Mohr in 1987, Cowhey has 22. Lilja also is nearing the record book in games played at 172 , which is currently tied for seventh all-time. Dustin Hunter has 78 strikeouts this season, which is tenth all-time.
THE VILLANO FACTOR: Since head coach Mike Villano took over the Leatherneck Baseball program less than two months to the start of the 2010 season, Western has made stark improvements... His 14 wins in year one tie for the second-most victories by a first-year head coach in program history. Dick Pawlow had 15 wins in 1970 and Kim Johnson also had 14 wins in 1999... The +7 improvement to the second year was the second-biggest jump in program history (Stan Hyman +13 from 2002 to 2003)... The team ERA was now cut in half, going from 10.0+ in 2009 to last year’s 5.03... Villano coached the Purple & Gold to a fourth place finish in the Summit League in 2011 and advanced to the postseason tournament for the first time since 2008.
SENIOR CLASS: The 2012 senior class will be celebrated on Sunday before the series finale with IPFW... the 12 seniors include Austin Cowen, Ryan Cowhey, Dustin Hunter, Matt Igara, Tom Lilja, Gabe Long, Chris Macek, Danny Marcuzzo, Rich Mascheri, Dan Russell, Philip Tolman and Alexander Zarate. The group has combined to play in 754 games including 641 starts.