Western Courier

Baseball drops three in Arkansas

Andrew Brown

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Just over five months after becoming Western Illinois’ head baseball coach, Ryan Brownlee has already faced his former team of the past nine years, the Iowa Hawkeyes.  

This comes earlier than expected, as high amounts of snowfall in the Great Plains forced Iowa and Wichita State south in search of games, leading both clubs to Little Rock, Ark. this weekend.  

This, in turn, changed Western Illinois’ originally scheduled three game series with Arkansas-Little Rock into more of a tournament style atmosphere with three games against three teams.  

The result was the Leathernecks playing each team once, including the Hawkeyes on Saturday.

The Leathernecks fell 11-3 against Wichita State on Friday and came up short on Sunday, losing to UALR 11-3.

Saturday’s game marked the first time Brownlee and assistant coach Dusty Napoleon got to coach against their former team.  Having spent the past nine years as an assistant coach at Iowa, as well as also serving as the Hawkeyes’ recruiting coordinator, Brownlee knows the Hawkeyes pretty well.  Saturday’s game  gave Brownlee a chance to see many familiar faces, coaches and players included.  

In fact, one familiar person Brownlee saw on Saturday was his dad who is currently a pitching coach for the Hawkeyes.  

Another was Iowa head coach Jack Dahm, who is in his 10th year of coaching the Hawkeyes. Coach Dahm had nothing but praise for the former Iowa assistant coach.

“Ryan and I were together for nine and a half years and I have the upmost respect for him for what he’s done with our program,” Dahm said.  “I think Western Illinois will have a very good year because of Western’s director of athletics hiring a very good coach as Coach Brownlee will do some very good things with the program.”

The Iowa head coach stressed the difficulty of treating this like any other game.  

“You know it’s difficult because Ryan is a very close friend of mine as well as with many of our staff here too,“ he said.  “Dusty Napoleon was also on the staff  and it’s difficult not to think about it.

“It was difficult for the players too since Brownlee had recruited most of our guys.  I thought our players handled it very well.”

Unfortunately for coach Brownlee and his staff, the Hawkeyes were able to pull away in the middle innings with a 7-3 victory.  The Leathernecks fell to 2-7 on the season.

Junior college transfer John White took the loss in his first career start with the Leathernecks, pitching 5 2/3 innings while allowing four earned runs. Tyler Willman came on in relief and gave up one hit and a run in 2 1/3 innings pitched.

Offensively, the Leathernecks had eight hits with Brent Turner, Zack Burling and Neil DeCook leading the way with two hits apiece. Matt Dermody (2-0) picked up the win for Iowa, striking out four while giving up three runs in seven innings pitched.   

Brownlee also stressed the importance of treating that game like any other.  

“Hopefully you just treat it like every other game,” Brownlee said.  “I told the guys that it’s just another game for us and obviously it’s a quality opponent and I think that’s the most important thing.  You’re playing a good opponent and it gives you another chance to see where you are at and what you need to improve upon.”

However, Brownlee did note the uniqueness of this game.

“It’s more fun for me because my dad is over there and that adds a little more to it since my dad is coaching over there now.  So that’s always neat when you get tangled up together because it’s interesting for our guys to see when the game starts, it’s all business.”

Dahm will look forward to seeing the Leathernecks again soon, as Western Illinois travels to Iowa City on April 2 for a single game matchup.

“It’s an enjoyable game too because Brownlee plays the game the right way,” Dahm added.

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The independent student newspaper of Western Illinois University. Serving Macomb since 1905.
Baseball drops three in Arkansas