MACOMB, Ill. - Leatherneck baseball defeated Black Hawk College 10-2 in the only fall game of the year for Western Illinois on Sunday, October 21. The exhibition win marks the first in the Ryan Brownlee coaching era.
"I told the guys that my biggest goal was to not treat the game any differently than they have practice." said head coach Ryan Brownlee, "I was proud of our guys cause they did just that. It really shows the players that you don't have to do anything different in a game then you do in practice on a daily basis."
The Purple & Gold used 11 pitchers in the 11-inning contest on Sunday. Sophomore Nick Smith got the start and shut down Black Hawk in the first inning of play. After Smith left, Western Illinois would use a different pitcher each inning for the rest of the game.
"I thought the pitching was tremendous. The way the guys attacked was great. I think we maybe had two or three walks in 11 innings and we had no errors." said Brownlee, "If you don't give up many walks or give up errors its almost impossible for other teams to get runs. I'm so proud of our guys, they did everything today that we asked them to do."
Offensively the Leathernecks got the bats rolling early in the game. Senior Dan Dispensa had a stand-up RBI triple in the second inning, which gave Western an early 2-0 lead. From then on the Purple & Gold saw consistent hitting from both the starters and non-starters that saw playing time. Sophomore Mark Garton hit the lone home run in the game for either team, a two-run shot over the left field fence in the 10th inning.
"We got drag bunts down, we got a hit and run down and we did a good job of running the bases," continued Brownlee, "We had maybe two extra base hits but still scored 10 runs, that's how I envision our style of play. I just hope we stay the way were doing right now and show up at the ballpark. The guys are having fun and they're enjoying it. That's my biggest hope that we keep our energy level going. The guys have been tremendous with their energy level so far."
The team will now look ahead to the annual Purple & Gold inter-squad games this week. The coaches will "draft" players for their respective teams, which will then face each other. The games take place this Wednesday, Thursday and Friday (Oct. 24-26) at Alfred D. Boyer Stadium.