Western Illinois (2-1) struck early and often against the Paladins (1-6) in its highest scoring game since a 19-10 win over IPFW last May. Curt Myers led off the second inning with a walk before advancing to third following an error and a double play. Chris Giglio's RBI triple scored Myers with two outs to give the Fighting Leathernecks an early 1-0 lead.
The Leathernecks would plate four more runs in the third inning after Anthony Kaskadden led off with a single up the middle before stealing second base. Cole Waddell's bunt single advanced Kaskadden to third before a fielding error in Bryan Jordan's at-bat allowed Kaskadden to score. Waddell would score in the next at-bat when Jason Summers doubled down the left field line, advancing Jordan to third.
A wild pitch in the next at bat sent Jordan safely across the plate to give Western a 4-0 lead. After a Curt Myers strikeout, Koszulinski's single to right field brought Summers in from third to push the lead to 5-0. Tom Lilja and Chris Giglio struck out to end the inning.
Western would bring across five more runs in the fourth inning, highlighted by Bryan Jordan's three-run homer with one out, to stretch the lead to nine. Jordan's homer came after Dan Dispensa was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning. Cole Waddell singled with one out before Jordan homered to left field.
"Offensively we were patient and just waited for pitches we could drive," said Western Illinois head coach Mike Villano. "Our guys showed good discipline and made the Furman pitchers work a lot."
Summers grounded out to third base for the second out of the inning before a Myers single and Koszulinski walk put two men on with two outs. Myers would score on a Tom Lilja RBI-single and Koszulinski would come around to score on a fielding error in the next at bat to make the score 10-0. Dispensa lined out to the end the inning.
Furman would get on the board in the bottom of the third when Brian Harrison led off with a solo-homer to left center. Will Miller doubled down the left field line before advancing to third on a ground out and scoring on a wild pitch. J.B. Jenkins flied out to end the inning with the score at 10-2.
The Leathernecks would answer back in the top of the fifth inning when Kaskadden led off with a double to left field before scoring on Waddell's RBI-single to center. Waddell would steal second following Jordan's fly-out to right before advancing to third on Summers' single through the left-side of the infield and scoring on Anthony Rinehart's groundout to the pitcher to give Western a 12-2 lead. Koszulinski would walk in the next at bat before Lilja grounded out to end the inning.
The Paladins tacked on a run in the bottom of the fifth on Will Muzika's solo-homer to center to make the score 11-3. Neither team would score in the sixth but Western would score four more times in the seventh to push the lead to 16-3 late in the game.
Matt Plate walked the first three Leatherneck batters in the top of the seventh to load the bases before being lifted for Daniel Stallsmith. With three-men on and no outs, Stallsmith got ahead of the next hitter 0-2 before Koszulinski smacked a grand slam to give Western the 16-2 advantage.
Lilja fouled out in the next at-bat before Chris Giglio singled to short and advanced to third on a Dispensa double down the right field line. Kaskadden grounded out to third before Waddell popped out to end the inning with Western leading 16-3.
Furman would add on a run in the bottom of the seventh when Will Owens singled home a run following a two-out double by Dylan Cole. Muzika fouled out to first to end the inning with the Leathernecks leading 16-4.
Western would tack on three more runs in the top of the eighth inning. Bryan Jordan led off the inning with a walk before Jason Summers struck out swinging. Rinehart would walk in the next at bat before Koszulinski's RBI single scored Jordan from second. Jared Depenbrock came on to pinch hit for Lilja and doubled to right center to bring home Rinehart.
Chris Giglio singled in the next at bat to bring Koszulinski across the plate. Dan Dispensa reached base after being hit by a pitch for the second time in the contest. Kaskadden struck out looking and Waddell flied out to right to end the inning with the Leathernecks leading 19-4.
Furman would attempt a comeback in the bottom of the ninth inning by adding on five runs. Chris Fuchs came on in relief in the final frame before being lifted for John Sneegas with one out following two singles, a groundout and a walk. Sneegas got Andrew Cadger to ground in to a fielder's choice but Paul Nitto came across to score on the play, cutting Western's lead to 19-5.
Jake Kline tripled to right center in the next at bat to plate two more runs for the Paladins. Following a pitching change, Brian Harrison knocked a two-run homer down the left field line off Jason Smith to make the score 19-9. With two out,. Smith got Will Miller to fly out to right for the final out of the game.
Devin VanBrooker picked up the win for Western to improve to 1-0 on the season giving up three runs on six hits in five innings of work. He struck out two and walked none.
"Devin was aggressive, he went after guys and forced contact," Villano said. "He has the potential to be really good for us and he's going to continue to improve with every outing."
Barry Benton took the loss for Furman to fall to 0-2 on the year giving up five runs (three earned) on five hits in two and one-thirds innings. He struck out two and walked three.
Western committed one error on the day to Furman's two. The Leathernecks pounded out a season-high 21 hits including seven extra-base hits. Six players finished with two or more hits for Western Illinois, including a 5-for-6 outing from Chris Giglio. The team's hit total was it's highest number since a 24-0 win over Medaille College last March.
"Our guys are just doing a good job of having a consistent, disciplined and patient approach at the plate," Vilano said. "It's all about being disciplined and looking for the right pitch to hit.
"The most important thing throughout the season is focusing on getting better every day. I think we did a good job of making ourselves better over the past two days and we'll look to continue that the rest of the season."
The Leathernecks will return to action when they play at St. Louis on Wednesday, March 3. The first pitch is set for 3 p.m. and all the action can be heard by logging on to Rocky Vision or by clicking HERE.