CEDAR CITY, Utah - Seven Leathernecks collected RBI in the rout of Southern Utah on Thursday. Western Illinois opened the Southern Utah series with a decisive 15-5 victory in an abbreviated seven innings due to the mercy rule. A strong start from Dan Russell (5-4) and three consecutive innings with four runs propelled Western to its fifth league win.
The Purple & Gold started the scoring the the third inning. Matt Igara singled through the right side before John Koszulinski drew a walk. Danny Marcuzzo tripled down the right field line to plate Igara. Koszulinski was thrown out at home on the play trying to score from first.
The fourth inning was the first of three big innings for the Purple Army. Chris Giglio got the inning started with a single into left field. Dan Dispensa dropped down a bunt single before Austin Cowen drove in Giglio with a single into left field. After Igara reached after a hit-by-pitch a wild pitch allowed another run to cross. The Thunderbird catcher was unable to find the ball after that wild pitch and the third run of the inning crossed the plate. Koszulinski knocked a single into right field to drive in another run.
Bryan Jordan singled to start the fifth and came around to score on a throwing error by Southern Utah's third baseman on a Giglio ground ball. Dispensa singled and Cowen walked before Igara added to his impressive afternoon with a two-RBI double to right field. Koszulinski drove in the final run of the inning with a single to center field.
Southern Utah finally answered in the fifth with five runs its own. A Mitchell Kauweloa two-RBI double highlight the inning.
Jordan, again started the next inning with a single before Giglio and Dispensa reached via walks. Cowen drove in two more runs to bring his total to three on the afternoon with a single through the left side. Dispensa scored on a wild pitch and Lilja singled home a run with a single to right field. After six innings, Western held onto a 13-5 lead.
Dispensa notched the second triple of the afternoon for Western Illinois in the seventh inning to score Giglio from first after he walked. Cowen collected his fourth RBI with a ground out to the right side.
Russell got the three outs need to end the game in the bottom of the seventh as the Thunderbirds went down in order.
Russell went the distance for his second complete game of the season and collected seven punch outs.
Dispensa and Igara both turned in 3-for-4 performances. Cowen drove in a career best four RBI with his 2-for-5 afternoon. Igara and Koszulinski both drove in two runs while Dispensa, Lilja, Marcuzzo and Giglio all added an RBI.
A doubleheader will be played tomorrow beginning at 12 p.m. (MT).