MACOMB, Ill. – Western Illinois baseball (15-33-1, 5-15) and South Dakota State (16-31-1, 5-12) will conclude the 2012 regular season with four games beginning on Thursday at 3 p.m.
Western will attempt to end the campaign on a positive note after being swept in three of its last four series including last weekend at Illinois State, where the Leathernecks were outscored 9-2 in the three games.
Dan Russell was handed a 1-0 defeat in game one despite collecting his team--high third complete game. The Purple & Gold added a late run in game two to avoid the shutout and took an early 1-0 lead on a Brent Turner RBI double in game three but ISU was able to come back and complete the sweep with a 4-1 victory.
The Match Up
Who • Western Illinois (15-33-1, 5-11) at South Dakota State (16-31-1, 5-12)
When • Thursday, May 17 (3 p.m.) • Friday, May 18 (12 p.m./3:30 p.m.) • Saturday, May 19 (1 p.m.)
Location • Brookings, S.D. • Erv Huether Field (500)
ILLINOIS STATE RECAP: The Leathernecks were swept for the third time in the last four series and were only able to muster two runs during the three-game series at Illinois State. Dan Russell hurled a gem in game one, picking up his third complete game in the losing effort as the Redbirds took the opener, 1-0. Dustin Hunter highlighted game two as he collected eight strikeouts to break Western’s all-time record of 100 punchouts. however, Western could only manage two hits and fell 4-1. Brent Turner doubled home game three’s first run to give Western its first lead of the weekend but it would not be enough as ISU would storm back to win 4-1 and earn the sweep.
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 Leatherneck 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 JACKRABBITS: Head Coach Dave Schrage (Creighton, 1983) is in his first season leading the SDSU baseball program. The Jacks are coming off a split at Southern Utah in its previous action. SDSU has been solid this season at home at 5-5. Beau Hanowski is the squad’s only hitter over .300 at .310 with 15 RBI. Phil Paquette is hitting .298 with a team-high nine doubles and has driven in 27 RBI. Aaron Machbitz leads the team with four home runs while Eric Cain is the team’s leading RBI man with 31 driven in this season. As a team, SDSU is hitting .270 while slugging .371 and have an on-base percentage of .361. The rotation is topped by Stephen Bougher with a 6-4 record and a 3.21 ERA with 50 Ks in 73.1 innings and two complete game shutouts. Layne Somsen is 1-6 with a 3.83 ERA and leads the teams with 52 strikeouts. Kolton Emery is 0-2 with a 7.28 ERA and 12 Ks in 29.2 innings. Adam Bray is 3-3 with 4.63 ERA and 44 strikeouts in 58.1 innings. Those are the four starters SDSU sent out last weekend at Southern Utah. J.J. Moore has four saves and a 7.71 ERA. Shane Kraemer leads the teams with 19 appearances including one start and carries a 4.94 ERA and has two saves.
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 3.98 ERA over 282.1 innings on their way to 12 victories. The four have struck out 262 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 101 strikeouts in 72.2 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 the stolen base, entering this weekend ranked 68th with 63 stolen bases. Ryan Cowhey stands 36th averaging 0.50 steals per game (23-for-24 in 49 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 (101).
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. Dan Russell tossed his third complete game in the series opener at Illinois State but was handed the 1-0 defeat.
HUNTER BREAKS 44-YEAR OLD RECORD: After eight Ks in his start at Illinois State, senior Dustin Hunter has 101 strikeouts this season, which breaks Paul Reuschel’s record of 100 Ks in 1968. Against IPFW, 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.
CUT ‘EM DOWN: On Sunday, Rich Mascheri picked off three Illinois State baserunners to move his total to 10 on the season. Mascheri sniped runners off of first in first, fourth and sixth innings. To add to the baserunning shutdown, Mark Garton nailed a runner at second trying to steal in the first inning. On the season Manny Reyes has thrown out 14 attempting to steal and Garton has four while the pitching staff has picked off 17 baserunners this season.
LEATHERNECK NOTES: Dustin Hunter has 101 strikeouts in 72.2 innings and the staff overall has fanned 355 batters to 222 walks... Opponents are batting .268 against the Leathernecks and .238 against Hunter... Matt Igara leads the team with 19 hit-by-pitches... Cowen leads with 36 RBI... The Leathernecks have a higher on-base percentage (.344) than slugging percentage (.324)... Defensively, Reyes has also thrown out 14 base runners trying to steal... Mascheri has 10 of Western’s 17 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 over 700 games including over 600 starts.