Leathernecks claim series against Jackrabbits

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Leathernecks claim series against Jackrabbits

Joe Mortillaro records a career-high 11 strikeouts in a 2-0 victory over the SDSU Jackrabbits.

Joe Mortillaro records a career-high 11 strikeouts in a 2-0 victory over the SDSU Jackrabbits.

Jake Thompson

Joe Mortillaro records a career-high 11 strikeouts in a 2-0 victory over the SDSU Jackrabbits.

Jake Thompson

Jake Thompson

Joe Mortillaro records a career-high 11 strikeouts in a 2-0 victory over the SDSU Jackrabbits.

Lucas Whitten

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The Western Illinois baseball team stayed hot in Summit League action this past weekend, taking a three-game series from South Dakota State two games to one.

The Leathernecks took down the Jackrabbits in the first game 3-2 on Friday.

In a double-header on Saturday, the Jackrabbits took the first game 11-3 before the Leathernecks won the second game of the day 2-0.

“We’ve moved some guys around; we’re kind of the walking wounded right now,” said Leathernecks head coach Ryan Brownlee. “But that’s okay because we’re finding a way to win and that’s what is most important. To put a shutout up in Game 3, that’s hard to do. I give our pitchers and defense a ton of credit because we stayed with it in a low scoring game.”

In the final game of the series, the Leathernecks (6-15, 4-2 in Summit League play) struck early and never looked back.

In the first inning, Connor Currier hit a single to right field to score Roman Visintine after he singled and stole second earlier in the inning.

The game stayed quiet until the fourth inning. when CJ Schaeffer hit a single to left and scored Dave Dobrinich to give the Leathernecks a 2-0 lead.

The Jackrabbits (4-18, 2-4) managed to get five hits on the day, but were unable to solve Leatherneck senior Joe Mortillaro on the mound.

Mortillaro (1-3) threw a career game in the shutout. In six innings, he allowed three hits, walked a pair and struck-out a career high 11 batters on 102 pitches en route to his first win of the season.

Nick Milligan came in to start the seventh inning and allowed only one hit in his two innings. He was followed by Ricky Digrugilliers in the ninth to finish the shutout, and Digrugilliers earned the first save of his career.

“That’s as good as Joe has thrown,” Brownlee said of Mortillaro’s performance. “He attacked the whole game and just hammered away. Milligan did a good job, then Ricky comes in (got two strikeouts) and you still have (Nate) Westfahl there if you need him.”

Schaeffer finished his day 2-4 from the plate, his first multi-hit game of his collegiate career, while knocking in an RBI.

Currier went 1-2 with an RBI and a pair of walks.

“Over the course of a season, you’re going to have the normal ebb and flow with the guys offensively,” Brownlee said. “It doesn’t matter how you’re scoring runs, whether it’s the top or bottom of your lineup, because guys are going to have to pick each other up.”

Up next for the Leathernecks is a non-conference matchup against Illinois-Springfield (8-10) in Macomb on Tuesday, before they travel for a weekend series against the Summit League leading Omaha Mavericks (13-9, 4-0).

“Over the course of a season, you’re going to have the normal ebb and flow with
the guys offensively,” Brownlee said. “It doesn’t matter how you’re scoring runs, whether it’s the top or bottom of your lineup, because guys are going to have to pick each other up.”

Up next for the Leathernecks is a non-conference matchup against Illinois-Springfield (8-10) in Macomb on Tuesday, before they travel for a weekend series against the Summit League leading Omaha Mavericks (13-9, 4-0).

Twitter: @LucasWhit10

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