DECATUR, Ga. - Thanks to a strong pitching performance from Rich Mascheri and a balanced offensive attack, Western Illinois took game one of a doubleheader at Georgia State on Friday afternoon (Feb. 17) and came away with a split on Opening Day of the 2012 season.
Western Illinois 7 at Georgia State 5
February 17 - Noon
Mascheri scattered four singles through seven shutout innings, and picked up a RBI to help his cause, as the Leathernecks held off a late charge to defeat the Panthers. It marked the first time Western won its season-opener since a 16-2 win at Alabama State in 2007.
Mascheri, the senior left-hander who redshirted in 2011, beat out a double play in the first and plated a run for an early 1-0 lead. Western plated another run in the second, and wound up scoring in six of the nine innings.
Dan Dispensa delivered a two-out RBI single in the second, and in the fourth inning Austin Cowen lined a two-out, 2-run single extending the lead to 4-0. Dispensa added a RBI single in the sixth and eighth inning as well. Ryan Cowhey added a run-scoring single in the seventh.
Western finished with 13 hits in the game, all singles, out-hitting the Panthers 13-8. Mascheri fanned a career-high five batters while allowing four walks in his career-high seven innings of work.
The Panthers scored twice in the eighth, then loaded the bases with no one out in the ninth. Freshman Seth Fuller entered the game in the ninth and recorded a strikeout versus the first batter he faced. Brandon Williams drew a run-scoring walk and Joey Wood followed by lining a RBI single.
However, on the play Williams overran second and was tagged for the second out putting runners on the corners. Right fielder Matt Igara chased down a Jonathan Kolowich foul ball near the fence for the final out of the game.
Dispensa and Cowen had three hits apiece, driving in three and two runs, respectively. Dispensa's three RBI matched a career-high. Freshman Jameson Henning had three hits in his debut and scored three times.
Fuller struck out one in his inning of work to earn the save.
Jake Dyer (0-1) was tagged for the loss after allowing four runs on six hits in four innings. He struck out six. Kody Adams and Drew Shields each had two hits.
Western Illinois 0 at Georgia State 7
February 17 - 3 p.m.
With possible inclement weather in the forecast for Saturday, the teams decided to move the doubleheader from Saturday up a day.
Ben Marshall kept Western in check, allowing just one hit in the 7-inning complete game win.
The senior right-hander, making his first start after appearing out of the bullpen last year, only allowed a two-out double by Dispensa in the fourth inning.
The Panthers scored four runs in the second inning off starter Alexander Zarate. Dustin Hunter got the final out of the second, then went another three innings allowing three runs (two earned) on two hits. The senior fanned a career-high six batters. Freshman Mason Pingel worked a 1-2-3 sixth inning in his debut.
Georgia State got four consecutive base hits in the second to break the game open. After a single run in the third, the Panthers got two more in the fifth thanks to consecutive hit batters, a single and balk.
Kolowich finished the nightcap with two doubles and scored twice as the Panthers held a 7-1 edge in hits.
Zarate (0-1) was charged with four runs on five hits in 1.2 innings. He walked one and struck out one.
Marshall, who allowed four runs in just over an inning of work last year against the Leathernecks, fanned six and walked two.
The four-game series continues on Saturday (Feb. 18), first pitch moved up to a 10 a.m. central start.