Leathernecks declaw Panthers

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There was no shortage of offense on Tuesday as the Western Illinois baseball team pummeled in-state rival Eastern Illinois 11-1 at Alfred D. Boyer Stadium.

Starting pitcher Alexander Zarate (1-2) cruised to his first victory of the season, as he went six innings, only giving up hit and one earned run while striking out three batters.

The Leathernecks had previously been swept by Summit League foe Oral Roberts over the weekend, and seemed to take their frustration out on the Panthers (15-23) early on.

Western lit up Eastern Illinois starting pitcher Andrew Grahn for five runs in the first inning. Center fielder Dan Dispensa singled with one out and shortstop Austin Cowen then walked. Steve Kedroski drove home Dispensa with a single to center field and Cowen scored on third baseman Matt Igara’s two-out single through the right side.

Kedroski raced home on Rich Mascheri’s single up the middle and Igara scored on Danny Marcuzzo’s infield single. Eastern Illinois catcher Jacob Reese’s throwing error into center field allowed Mascheri to score.

Cowen (2-for-3) scored three runs and hit his third home run of the year, a two-run shot in the sixth inning. Dispensa (2-for-4) and Mascheri (2-for-4) both scored twice while Kedroski (2-for-5) drove in a run. Igara (1-for-5) drove in two runs and extended his reached base streak to 11 contests.

Cowen’s leadoff single in the second inning led to another Leatherneck run in the second inning. Cowen advanced to third on Kedroski’s double off the left field wall and scored on Igara’s groundout.

The Leathernecks (13-24-1) scored again in the third inning to go up 7-0. A pitch hit Marcuzzo and Brent Turner singled him to second. After a double play, Dispensa brought Marcuzzo home with a two-out single up the middle.

Eastern Illinois tallied its first run in the sixth inning without a hit. A leadoff walk advanced to third on a wild pitch and groundout. The run eventually scored on a sacrifice fly to left field.

Western extended its lead to eight runs in the bottom half of the inning. Dispensa led off with a walk and Cowen lifted a long home run over the left field scoreboard. First baseman Tom Lilja lifted his second home run of the season over the left field fence in the eighth inning.

Philip Tolman relieved Zarate in the seventh inning and tossed two scoreless innings. Mason Pingel closed out the victory with a scoreless ninth inning. EIU starter Andrew Grahn (0-5) was charged with the loss after allowing seven runs (six earned) on eight hits over two innings.

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