MACOMB, Ill. - Manny Reyes delivered a clutch, two-out RBI single in the eighth inning to propel Western Illinois (8-12) to a 2-1 victory over Bradley (11-11-1) Friday (March 30) at Alfred D. Boyer Stadium. The Fighting Leathernecks have now won three straight games, their first such streak since May 8, 2011.
Rich Mascheri delivered a stellar effort for the Fighting Leathernecks as he allowed one run over six innings. He struck out four Braves and scattered seven hits.
Dan Russell (2-1) took over for Mascheri in the seventh inning and tossed three scoreless innings to earn the win. Bradley loaded the bases with one out in the ninth but Russell induced an infield flyball and struck out Max Murphy looking to end the game.
Tom Lilja (2-for-4) drove in Western's first run while Ryan Cowhey (1-for-5) singled and stole a base. Cowhey, who has reached base in 15 consecutive games, is 17-for-17 in stolen base attempts this season.
Bradley starter Joe Bircher allowed four hits and one unearned run over 6 1/3 innings of work. He struck out four Leathernecks and walked three. Jacob Booden (1-1) took the loss for the Braves after allowing one run on two hits in the eighth inning.
Western jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first inning. Dan Dispensa reached on an error and Austin Cowen walked to put two runners on for Lilja. Lilja doubled down the left field line to score Dispensa.
Bradley got on the scoreboard with two hits and a walk in the third inning. Mascheri walked Greg Partyka after retiring the first two batters. Two consecutive singles scored Partyka and the contest was tied at 1-1.
Western loaded the bases in the third inning but could not push a runner across against Bircher. Dispensa walked, a pitch hit Matt Igara and Danny Marcuzzo walked with two outs. However, Mascheri struck out looking to end the threat.
Lilja singled to lead off the eighth inning and Marcuzzo sacrificed him to second base. With two outs, Reyes poked a single through the middle of the infield to score Lilja and Western led 2-1 entering the ninth inning.
Andrew Wasmund singled to lead off the ninth inning and was sacrificed to second base. Russell hit Mike Tauchman with a pitch and Jason Leblebijian reached on Cowhey's error in right field. With one out and the bases loaded, Greg Partyka popped out to shortstop and Murphy struck out looking to end the game.
The Braves and Leathernecks tussle again at 2 p.m. on Saturday with Dustin Hunter (2-0, 3.4O ERA) going against Justin Ziegler (1-2, 6,75 ERA).