MACOMB, Ill. – Western Illinois baseball (10-18-1, 1-3) will attempt to bounce back after a tough loss at Iowa on Tuesday night. North Dakota State (22-7, 0-0) will roll into Macomb for its first Summit League action of the season with a four-game series beginning on Friday.
The Bison ended the Leathernecks' postseason run last year with 5-3 win on May 27 in Sioux Falls, S.D. In that game Western led until three runs in the final two innings for the Bison as NDSU advanced to Summit League semifinals.
On Tuesday in Iowa City, Western fell behind early 5-2 but a Steve Kedroski grand slam gave the Purple & Gold a 6-5 lead. However, Iowa was able to plate three runs in bottom of the ninth to steal the 8-7 victory.
The Match Up
Who • North Dakota State (22-7, 0-0) at Western Illinois (10-18-1, 1-3)
When • Friday, April 13 (3:30 p.m.) • Saturday, April 14 (Noon & 3:30 p.m.) • Sunday, April 15 (Noon)
Location • Macomb, Ill. • Alfred D. Boyer Stadium (502)
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.
SCOUTING THE BISON: Head Coach Tod Brown ( Arizona, 1994) had his Bison squad reel off 16-straight wins earlier this season, which was the nation’s longest and the third longest in Summit League history. However, North Dakota State has dropped its last two contests including Wednesday night to Mayville State. The brothers Colwell lead the Bison offensive attack. Nick Colwell is leading the team with a .412 average and 28 RBI while Tim Colwell is hitting .387 with eight triples. Zach Wentz is hitting .374 and is tied with Nick Anderson for the team lead with three home runs. John Straka is 4-2 with a 2.53 ERA and 51 strikeouts. Luke Anderson is 6-0 with a 3.19 with opponents hitting .202 against him. Kyle Kingsley has three saves with a 2.16 ERA.
FRONTLINE POWER: The Purple & Gold continue to get solid starting pitching from Rich Mascheri, Dustin Hunter and Nick Smith. The three have combined for a 3.54 ERA over 119.4 innings on their way to seven victories. The trio have struck out 113 hitters. Mascheri struck out nine, Hunter 8 and Smith 13 in their starts vs. Southern Utah. The 13 by Smith matched the third most in program history. Zach Sterling struck out 13 last season at IPFW.
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 stolen bases, entering this weekend ranked 32nd nationally with 1.64 steals per game and 53rd with 47... Individually, Ryan Cowhey stands 15th averaging 0.68 steals per game (19-for-19 in 29 games) and 19th with 19 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 sixth in strikeouts per nine innings (12.77) and 14th in strikeouts (62).
TOUGH LUCK: Western starters have been dealt some bad luck this season... this past weekend Rich Mascheri went 7.1 innings and struck out nine batters while not 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 on Saturday, collecting 13 punchouts over a complete seven innings.
TURNER TURNING: Freshman Brent Turner has started the last three games at second base and has shown potential of being a piece in the development of the Leatherneck program. He doubled at Iowa and drove in a run on Saturday vs. Southern Utah.
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.
SHREDDER: Senior outfielder Ryan Cowhey continues his solid start to his final season in the Purple & Gold... in the three games at Western Kentucky, Cowhey hit .556 (5-for-9) with two runs, a double and three RBI. Cowhey, batting leadoff for the Leathernecks, is third on the team with a .421 on-base percentage and leads the team with 12 walks. Currently, Cowhey is hitting .303 with seven doubles and 11 RBI... he hit his first home run of the season on Sunday against Bradley.
LEATHERNECK NOTES: Dustin Hunter has 62 strikeouts in 43.2 IP and the staff overall has fanned 211 batters to 136 walks... Opponents are batting .259 against the Leathernecks and .205 against Hunter... nine Leathernecks have been hit by at least two pitches this year, led by Danny Marcuzzo with 10... Cowen leads with 27 RBI... The Leathernecks have a higher on-base percentage (.355) than slugging percentage (.334)... Defensively, Reyes has also thrown out 11 base runners trying to steal... Mascheri has seven of Western’s ten pickoffs this year.
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.