FORT WAYNE, Ind. – Western Illinois baseball took down the Fort Wayne Mastodons twice on Saturday afternoon (Apr. 27) in doubleheader conference action. The Leathernecks used a combination of solid pitching and late inning scoring to defeat IPFW 5-3 in game one and 8-4 in game two.
Pitching was the key for Western in game one of the doubleheader with the Leathernecks only allowing four hits in the seven-inning contest.
John White (3-4) threw six innings with six strikeouts and allowed just three hits in the win. Brian Loconsole picked up his record-breaking sixth save of the year after throwing the final inning with one strikeout and one hit allowed. Loconsole is now in sole possession of first place for most single season saves in Western Illinois baseball history.
The Purple & Gold jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the third inning of the game. Erik Maki singled and stole second base to put himself in scoring position. Maki scored after two wild pitches were thrown by Fort Wayne to give the Leathernecks the lead.
Western put two more across in the fifth inning to widen the lead to 3-0. The Leathernecks capitalized on two Fort Wayne errors and another wild pitch to score their runs. Manny Reyes and Zack Burlng both scored and Jameson Henning had an RBI single in the inning.
Fort Wayne would close the gap in the sixth inning with two runs of their own to make the score 3-2. The Mastodons picked up two hits in the inning, including an RBI double by Tyler Shepherd.
Three more hits and two more runs in the top of the seventh inning gave the Leathernecks a 5-2 lead. Neil DeCook walked to lead off the inning and scored on a Burling RBI double. One batter later Burling scored after Dan Dispensa singled to right field.
The Mastodons added one more run in the bottom of the seventh inning but Leatherneck pitching proved to be to strong and Western won game one, 5-3. Henning and Steve Kedroski each had two hits in the game and Maki ended the game with a career high two stolen bases.
The second game of the doubleheader saw the Leathernecks score six runs over the final two innings to pick up the 8-4 victory.
Western again jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the third inning of the nine-inning contest. Tanner Glore led off the inning with a walk and advanced to second on a Burling sacrifice bunt. Glore then advanced to third on a Dispensa ground out and scored after Henning hit an RBI single.
The Mastodons would not let the lead last long as they scored four runs over a three-inning stretch. IPFW put across one in the fourth, two in the fifth and one more in the sixth to take a 4-1 lead.
The Leathernecks added one run of their own in the sixth and one more in the eighth to close the gap. Glore hit RBI singles in both the sixth and eighth innings and Brent Turner scored both Western runs to make it a 4-3 game going into the ninth-inning.
In the top of the ninth Dan Dispensa led off the inning with a double to left center field. Dispensa advanced to third on a Henning sacrifice bunt and scored on a Kedroski RBI single. Joey White then came into the game as the pinch runner for Kedroski and scored on a Mark Garton RBI single to give the Leathernecks the lead for good.
DeCook and Burling also picked up hits for Western in the ninth-inning rally that saw five Leathernecks cross the plate. Sam Welvaert came into the game in the bottom of the ninth and retired the Mastodons in order in just 11 pitches to give the Purple & Gold the 8-4 victory.
Alex Doty (1-2) picked up his first collegiate win in the game. The freshman righty threw 2.1 innings with two strikeouts and no runs allowed. Tom Constand started the game for Western and threw 5.2 innings with two earned runs and a strikeout.
The series finale between Western and Fort Wayne will be tomorrow afternoon (Apr. 28), with first pitch set for 11 a.m. (CT). Tyler Willman will take the hill for Western as the Leathernecks look to continue their season high six-game winning streak.