MACOMB, Ill. – Western Illinois baseball (15-30-1) will travel to Normal, Ill. for a non-conference series at Illinois State (26-16). The two teams met last season and the Redbirds took that contest 9-4. The Leathernecks hold the all-time advantage over the Redbirds, 52-49-1.
Western is coming off a Summit League series split with IPFW after losing eight straight league games. both victories came on Saturday as the Leathernecks swept the doubleheader. Pitching was took center stage as Rich Mascheri and Dustin Hunter combined to pitch 26 innings while allowing one run on seven hits and striking out 21 batters.
IPFW took game one, 10-0, in eight innings and the series finale, 8-5, to spoil Western's Senior Day on Sunday.
The Match Up
Who • Western Illinois (15-30-1) at Illinois State (26-16)
When • Friday, May 11 (4:30 p.m.) • Saturday, May 12 (2 p.m.) • Sunday, May 13 (1 p.m.)
Location • Normal, Ill. • Duffy Bass Field (1,500)
IPFW RECAP: Western is coming off a Summit League series split with IPFW after losing eight straight league games. both victories came on Saturday as the Leathernecks swept the doubleheader. Pitching was took center stage as Rich Mascheri and Dustin Hunter combined to pitch 26 innings while allowing one run on seven hits and striking out 21 batters. IPFW took game one, 10-0, in eight innings and the series finale, 8-5, to spoil Western’s Senior Day on Sunday. Mascheri started Saturday with a nine-inning complete game, allowing no runs on two hits and striking out six. Hunter finished the day with a seven-inning complete game, allowing one run and striking out 15, the second most in program history. Dan Dispensa and Tom Lilja were the highlights of Sunday’s game as Dispensa collected his second career four-hit game and Lilja crushed his 16th career home run.
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 REDBIRDS: Head Coach Mark Kingston (North Carolina, 1995) is in his third season (88-58) and has his Redbirds in line for another 30-win season at 26-16. Illinois State is 8-8 in MVC play, which is good for third place. Last season, ISU went 36-18 and 13-8 in the MVC. Five hitters carry averages greater than .320 and two more hitting .295. Leading the way is Zac Johnson, hitting .346 with a team-high 10 doubles and 42 RBI and also carries a team-leading .551 slugging percentage. Ty Wiesemeyer leads the team with 87 total bases to go with his .345 average. Eric Aguilera leads the team with seven home runs and is hitting .339. As a team, ISU is hitting .301 with 67 doubles, 13 triples and 31 home runs. The rotation is paced by Brad Sorkin who is 3-3 with a 4.28 ERA and 31 strikeouts. Dylan Craig is 7-2 with a 5.08 ERA and 47 Ks. Chris Razo is 4-4 with a 5.16 ERA and a team-high 61 strikeouts. Kenny Long has nine saves and 1-1 record to go with his 2.03 ERA. The staff as a whole has a 4.75 ERA with 286 strikeouts in 356.0 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 4.00 ERA over 261 innings on their way to 12 victories. The four have struck out 244 hitters. The 13 strikeouts by Smith against SUU matched the third most in program history and hunter’s 15 Ks (in seven innings) against IPFW are second most all-time. Hunter and Russell both tossed complete games against NDSU. Hunter has 93 strikeouts in 67.0 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 68th with 62 stolen bases. Ryan Cowhey stands 36th averaging 0.50 steals per game (23-for-24 in 46 games) and 29th with 23 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 second in strikeouts per nine innings (12.49) and 12th in strikeouts (93).
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.
HUNTER EYES 44-YEAR OLD RECORD: Senior Dustin Hunter has 93 strikeouts this season, which is seven shy of Paul Reuschel’s 100 Ks in 1968. He is currently second all-time as he passed Pat Kohorst‘s mark of 92 in 2005. On Saturday, Hunter set down 15 via the punchout in seven innings while only six outs came from his defense (71%). The career strikeout record is 237 by Kent Murphy from 1982 to 1985.
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.
LEATHERNECK NOTES: Dustin Hunter has 93 strikeouts in 67 innings and the staff overall has fanned 334 batters to 212 walks... Opponents are batting .270 against the Leathernecks and .239 against Hunter... Matt Igara leads the team with 18 hit-by-pitches... Cowen leads with 36 RBI... The Leathernecks have a higher on-base percentage (.351) than slugging percentage (.334)... Defensively, Reyes has also thrown out 14 base runners trying to steal... Mascheri has seven of Western’s 14 pickoffs this year.
RECORD WATCH: Tom Lilja and Dan Dispensa is closing in on the top ten list for career hits. Lilja is ninth with 168 hits and Dispensa is tenth all-time with 164. Kerrick Leatherwood was tenth with 157 hits from 1993-96. Ryan Cowhey has 35 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 23. Lilja also is nearing the record book in games played at 176 , which is currently tied for fourth all-time. Dustin Hunter has 93 strikeouts this season, which is second 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 was honored 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 716 games including 597 starts.