MACOMB, Ill. - Western Illinois (12-20-1, 3-5) fought off the weather and a strong North Dakota State (24-9, 2-2) team to earn a series split on Sunday afternoon.
North Dakota State 10, Western Illinois 4
In game one of the doubleheader, North Dakota State scored in six of the nine innings including two three-run innings to cruise to a 10-4 victory. Bryant Larson (4-1) went six innings, allowing two earned runs for the Bison.
Ryan Cowhey and Austin Cowen both drove in a pair of RBI, Cowen coming on a home run in the bottom of the ninth. Nick Smith (3-4) lasted just five innings but struck out six while allowing four earned runs and walking four.
NDSU wasted no time getting the offense rolling with a three-spot in the first inning. Tim Colwell scored on a wild pitch followed by a bases-loaded walk and a sacrifice fly from Tyler Steen.
The Leathernecks answered with two runs in the bottom of the first on Cowhey's two-run double down the right field line.
Nick Anderson doubled the lead to 4-2 with a solo shot over the left center wall. Zach Wentz produced a sacrifice fly in the next inning to give the visitors a 5-2 advantage. NDSU would score in each of the final three innings including three runs in the seventh, marked by a two-run triple from Tim Colwell.
A 33-minute rain delay halted play in the seventh but the skies cleared and allowed the action to resume.
A late two-run shot from Cowen cut the deficit to six but it would be too little too late. Simon Anderson and Kyle Kingsley combined for the final three innings to secure the victory.
North Dakota State 2, Western Illinois 3
Dan Russell (3-2) was excellent in game two and collected his fourth career complete game, going seven innings allowing two earned runs, striking out seven and walking just one. Russell retired the final eight Bison in order to give the Purple & Gold a series split.
A two-run fifth from Western would give the home team the lead and eventually the win. Dan Dispensa tied the game with solo home run into the trees in right field. Cowen followed with a single to left and Matt Igara drove in the go-ahead run with a double to the wall in left center scoring Cowen from first.
The Bison struck first with a leadoff double from Tim Colwell in the first and Wes Satzinger eventually drove him home with a single to left.
Steve Kedroski singled through the left side to plate Igara after the Leathernecks left fielder had tripled. The score remained tied until both teams scored in the fifth, only difference being Western would get two.
The Leathernecks will travel to Tulsa, Okla. to clash with the preseason favorite Oral Roberts Golden Eagles. Last season, the two teams split a controversial series in Macomb. Rich Mascheri (1-6, 2.83) will get the ball on Friday for Western.