ROCHESTER, Mich. – Western Illinois baseball took down No. 1 seed South Dakota State 4-2 in the first round of the 2013 Summit League Tournament on Thursday afternoon (May 23). The win is the first for Fighting Leatherneck baseball in the conference tournament since 2008.
Leatherneck starting pitcher Aaron Michel (4-2) threw a career high eight innings in the win allowing just six hits and one earned run. Brian Loconsole came in and picked up his record ninth save of the season after throwing a scoreless ninth inning with two strikeouts.
Western took the lead first in the contest after scoring two runs in the top of the third inning to go up 2-0. Maestas led off the inning with a walk and made his way to third after Zack Burling and Dispensa hit back-to-back bunt singles. Maestas crossed the plate on a Jameson Henning sacrifice fly while Burling scored on a Steve Kedroski ground out to give the Leathernecks the lead.
The Jackrabbits put one run across in both the fourth and fifth innings to tie the game at 2-2. In the fourth Nick Andrews drew a walk and came around to score after Aaron Machbitz hit a sacrifice fly. SDSU took advantage of a throwing error in the fifth to score their second run as Scott Splett crossed the plate to even the score.
After a scoreless sixth inning the Leathernecks capitalized on a throwing error by SDSU to score two runs and take the lead for good in the seventh. Burling reached on a fielder’s choice in the inning and Dispensa drew a walk to put two runners on for WIU. Both runners advanced 90-feet after stealing bases and both scored on a throwing error to give the Leathernecks the 4-2 lead.
Western held off South Dakota State in the final two innings of the game to pick up the team’s first conference tournament win in five years. The Leathernecks improved to 19-35 overall this season after the win.
Due to inclement weather in the Rochester, Mich. area, the league has now shifted games in the weekend schedule. The Leathernecks will not play on Friday (May 24), but instead on Saturday (May 25) at 11 a.m. (CDT) vs. the winner of the North Dakota State/Oakland game. To view the updated schedule click HERE.