MACOMB, Ill. - Western Illinois baseball will head north this weekend to take on the Minnesota Golden Gophers in a three-game series. The weekend series will be the first for the Leathernecks in 2013 that is outside the state of Arkansas. The series will also be the only indoor games of the year for Western, as the games will be played inside the Metrodome.
Friday will feature a single game beginning at 6:35 p.m., while Saturday's single game will start at 2:04 p.m. Sunday will conclude the weekend with first pitch scheduled for 1:05 p.m.
THE MATCH UP
WHO: Western Illinois at Minnesota
Friday, March 8 - Sunday, March 10
6:35 p.m. • 2:04 p.m. • 1:05 p.m.
WHERE: Minneapolis, Minn. • Metrodome (45,424)
LEATHERNECKS ON THE AIR: Western Illinois baseball games can be heard live on
the Internet (www.GoLeathernecks.com) via the Leatherneck Sports Network by
clicking on the link for each game on the baseball schedule/results page. Every
baseball broadcast is free of charge.
LAST TIME OUT: The Leathernecks took on three separate opponents last weekend in Little Rock, Ark... Western took on the Wichita State Shockers on Friday (Mar. 1)... The Shockers came out on top in the game, winning 11-3... Tanner Glore had a career high two hits in the contest for Western Illinois... Payton Jeffers also had his first career hit and run scored in the game... On Saturday (Mar. 2) the Purple & Gold squared off against the Iowa Hawkeyes in the "Brownlee Bowl"... First year head coach Ryan Brownlee led the Leathernecks against the Hawkeyes, where he spent his last nine seasons as an assistant... Iowa's pitching coach is Jim Brownlee, the father of Ryan Brownlee... The Hawkeyes got the better of Western in the contest, winning 7-3... The Leathernecks got multiple hits from three separate players in the contest... Brent Turner, Neil DeCook and Zack Burling all had two hits apiece... The two hits is a career high for both DeCook and Burling... The Leathernecks concluded their weekend against the Arkansas-Little Rock Trojans on Sunday (Mar. 3)... The Trojans jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the second inning, but the lead would not hold long as Western scored two runs in the top of the third to take a 2-1 lead... Dan Dispensa had his 181st career hit in the inning... He would score when Jameson Henning reached on a throwing error... Erik Maki also crossed the plate for Western in the inning... Maki finished the game with a career high two runs scored as well as his first career double... The Trojans would put up two runs of their own in the bottom of the third inning and would not look back, winning the game by a score of 11-3.
FIRST WIN: The first win of the 2013 Western Illinois baseball season came in the third game of the season at #1 Arkansas... The Leathernecks took down the Razorbacks 7-5 for the first win of 2013, and the first win of the Ryan Brownlee coaching era... The win was also the first in program history over a top ranked team in the nation... The previous highest ranked team beaten by the Leathernecks was Missouri in 2008, the Tigers were ranked #4 at the time of the 5-3 Leatherneck win.
SCOUTING THE GOLDEN GOPHERS: Minnesota comes into the weekend with a 6-5 overall record... The Golden Gophers are 5-3 inside the Metrodome so far this year... Michael Handel leads the team with a .357 batting average and 15 hits in 42 plate appearances... On the mound, Tom Windle has thrown 14.0 innings with a team high 11 strikeouts on the year... Minnesota was selected fifth in the BIG 10 preseason poll heading into the season... The Golden Gophers are coached by John Anderson who is in his 32nd year at the helm... Anderson has 1,098 career wins at Minnesota.
FRESH FACES: The Leathernecks have seen a great deal of success so far from both redshirt players and transfers... Redshirt sophomore Jake Moore has six hits on the season, including a solo homerun in the series finale at Arkansas State... JUCO transfer Neil DeCook recorded his first two hits in the Arkansas State series, including a double and two runs scored... DeCook has four hits on the season and has made six starts... Junior transfer Zack Burling has five hits, two runs scored and one RBI... Travis Stafford now has five hits on the season, two runs scored and has drawn a team high four walks... the Claremore, Okla. native has also started every game at shortstop for WIU.
TRUE FRESHMEN: Western has now used three true-freshmen in 2013... Payton Jeffers saw his first career action against Wichita State last Friday... the Williamsville, Ill. native picked up a base hit in his first career plate appearance... he also crossed the plate for his first career run in the same inning... Payton is the son of Steve Jeffers who played baseball at Western Illinois in the 1980s... Aaron Michel has already made four appearances on the mound in 2013... the freshman is tied with Riley Perry for most appearances made through the first nine games... he has thrown 5.1 innings so far, recording four strikeouts and just four hits allowed... Alex Doty has made two appearances on the year as a relief pitcher... the righty hails from Hoffman Estates, Ill.... Doty has thrown 2.2 innings on the year with his first career strikeout coming against Arkansas-Little Rock last Sunday.
IN THE LEAGUE: Senior Dan Dispensa is tied for third in the league with seven runs scored... Mason Pingel is in fourth place in the league with 14 strikeouts on the year... Brian Loconsole is leading the Summit League in saves with two... Freshman Aaron Michel and junior Riley Perry are tied for the league lead in appearances on the mound with four each through the first nine games.
DISPENSA RECORD WATCH: Dan Dispensa is currently in a tie for 4th place for most hits at Western Illinois... The Chicago, Ill. native had one hit over the weekend, giving him 181 for his career... He is five hits away from moving into a third place tie... the senior has also played in 158 career games which puts him in sole possession of ninth place at Western... Dispensa also has nine career triples and is currently in a four way tie for eight place.
LEATHERNECK PITCHERS: Western Illinois has now used 13 pitchers through the first three weekends in 2013... Five of those pitchers made their debuts on the mound in a Leatherneck uniform during the Arkansas series... True-freshmen Alex Doty and Aaron Michel both made their first career appearances at Arkansas and have both thrown the first three weekends... JUCO transfer John White made his first career start at Iowa and has made three total appearances on the year... transfer Nick Bakeris has made two appearances on the year while Riley Perry has made four appearances.. Returners Nick Smith and Mason Pingel have each started three times for the Purple & Gold, while Tyler Willman has made two starts and one relief appearance... other returners Brian Loconsole, Tom Constand, Nick Milligan, Sam Welvaert and Tyler Owings also have pitched for Western Illinois in 2013.
PITCHING TOWERS: The Leatherneck pitching staff ranges in height from 5'10" to 6'7". The average height for a Western Illinois pitcher in 2013 is just over 6'3"... John White and Mason Pingel both stand at a towering 6'7", with Tyler Willman standing at 6'6"... Freshman Aaron Michel is the shortest member of the Leatherneck pitching staff but still stands at an above average 5'10".
WEEKLY HONORS: Sophomore pitcher Mason Pingel was named Summit League Co-Pitcher of the Week following his performance in the opening weekend win at #1 Arkansas... The honor was the first for the Appleton, Wisc. native... Redshirt-freshman Jameson Henning was selected as a "Primetime Performer" by collegebaseball360.com following his performance during the opening weekend at Arkansas... The righty had four hits on the series and scored two runs for the Purple & Gold.
AT THE HELM: Ryan Brownlee is in his first season as the head coach of the Fighting Leatherneck baseball team. Brownlee officially began his coaching duties on October 2, 2012. The former Iowa assistant coach brings 15 years of Division 1 experience to Western Illinois. He spent his last nine years as a member of the Hawkeye coaching staff as an assistant and recruiting coordinator. Before Iowa, Brownlee was an assistant at James Madison for four seasons.
PRESEASON POLL: The Leathernecks were selected to finish in fourth place out of six teams in the preseason poll... North Dakota State was picked to win the conference, receiving five first place votes and a total of 25 points... South Dakota State placed second with 17 points, followed by Oakland in third with 16 points... The Leathernecks received 15 points to finish in fourth place in the voting... Rounding out the preseason voting were Fort Wayne in fifth place with nine points, and conference newcomer Omaha in sixth place with eight points.