NORMAL, Ill. - Fighting Leatherneck (15-32-1) baseball dropped game two of the series to Illinois State (28-16), 4-1. It was a pitcher's game through the fifth before the Redbird bats heated up for four runs in the sixth giving them a lead that would hold through the final three innings of play.
Following a quiet first four innings, Western Illinois second baseman Brent Turner used a bunt single with two away in the fifth to spoil the no hit bid for Illinois State starting pitcher Dylan Craig. The inning would end on a pop out, keeping the contest knotted at zero.
The pitcher's duel would continue until the bottom of the sixth when a single and a walk put Redbirds on at first and second with one away. A single and two errors followed on the next play to plated two and put a runner aboard at third. A double and a walk chased Western Illinois starting pitcher Hunter from the mound.
Gabe Long came on in relief to close out the inning but allowed a run to cross on back-to-back hit by pitches giving Illinois State a 4-0 lead.
The Leathernecks cut into the deficit in the top of the seventh. Nick Milligan and Matt Igara drew back-to-back walks to open the frame and an error allowed a run to cross. It would be the only run of the day for Western Illinois and the game ended 4-1.
Craig picked up the win in the contest. Hunter (4-5) was tagged with the loss in 5.2 innings of work. He allowed four earned runs, five hits and tallied eight strikeouts, which brings his single season mark to 101 breaking the Western Illinois single season record of 100 strikeouts set by Paul Reuschel in 1968.
Ryan Cowhey and Turner each picked up a hit going one-for-four and one-for-three, respectively.
The Leathernecks wrap up their three-game series at Illinois State on Sunday (May 13). First pitch is set for 1 p.m.