FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - Western Illinois baseball used a mix of timely
hitting and pitching, and took advantage of three Arkansas errors, to defeat the #1 Razorbacks 7-5 on Sunday afternoon (Feb. 17).
The win is a milestone in program history as it is the first time a Leatherneck team has defeated a #1 team in the country. It's the second straight year Western defeated a 'Top 10' ranked team (def. #8 Georgia last year), and surpassed the 2008 team beating then 4th-ranked Missouri and #7 Long Beach State in the same season.
The win also is the first of the year for the Leathernecks and the first in the Ryan Brownlee coaching era.
“What a great win for our program, especially after the way Friday and Saturday went. I’m extremely proud of our guys because we actually showed up today and expected to win and that something we hadn’t done the previous two games,” said Brownlee. “This is a great day for our program, it was a complete team effort today. Our pitchers did a great job, our defense was awesome and our situational hitting was there today when it wasn’t the last two days.”
Turner got things started off in the first inning with a single down the left field line. After a Dan Dispensa walk and a Henning sacrifice bunt, Western would get on the board when senior Steve Kedroski singled up the middle scoring two.
Arkansas would tie the game up in the bottom of the first after a Brian Anderson RBI double to left field. Anderson finished the game with a team high three RBI for the Razorbacks.
The teams would exchange runs in the second and third innings. Zack Burling scored on a past ball in the second for the Leathernecks, the first run of his Leatherneck career. Arkansas scored in the third on a Tyler Spoon RBI single into left field.
The Purple & Gold put up three runs in the top half of the fourth inning to take the lead for good. Erik Maki picked up his first career hit to start off the inning, a single to left field. Turner and Dispensa would also single to left in the inning. Maki, Turner and Dispensa all crossed the plate for the Leathernecks in the inning.
Arkansas would score two in the bottom half of the seventh inning, but Leatherneck pitchers would hold the Razorbacks scoreless in the final two innings to seal the victory for Western.
Sophomore Mason Pingel (1-0) got the victory for Western. The righty went five innings, allowing three runs while striking out a career high five Razorbacks. Brian Loconsole picked up the save for the Leathernecks, throwing the final 1 2/3 innings giving up no hits or runs.
Arkansas senior Trent Daniel (0-1) gave up eight hits and three earned runs and was charged with the loss in the game.
The Leathernecks will be back in Arkansas next weekend to
take on the Arkansas State Red Wolves. The three game series will feature a
doubleheader on Saturday (Feb. 23) and a single game on Sunday.