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Western Courier

Baseball drops three games in Carbondale

Cambell Atkins

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CARBONDALE, Ill. — Western Illinois (0-10) remained winless this weekend after dropping three games to the Southern Illinois Salukis (7-4) of the Missouri Valley Conference. Western had a chance to walk away victorious in two of the games but came up short.

The Leathernecks began the weekend with an 8-6 loss in the opening game of the three game set on Friday. Western battled back after being held scoreless through the first five innings and even took the lead in the top of the eighth.

The Salukis used four singles to jump out to a 3-0 advantage in the bottom half of the second. Their lead grew to 5-0 with three more singles in the fifth. Ten of the 13 Southern Illinois hits were singles in the series opener.

While the Salukis built an early cushion, their starting pitcher Chad Whitmer kept Western’s bats at bay for the most part. The Leathernecks mustered just one run off Whitmer through the first six innings, a sacrifice fly off the bat of Chris Tschida.

Western was able to climb back into the game right before the seventh inning stretch. Adam McGinnis reached on a fielder’s choice that brought home Conner Currier. On the play, Roman Visintine reached third on a throwing error. He came home on a Drue Galassi groundout to cut the lead to two. Only three of Western’s eventual six runs were charged to Saluki pitching.

The Leathernecks pounced on Southern Illinois mistakes in the eighth inning to take a 6-5 lead. After loading the bases, the deficit evaporated with back-to-back fielder’s choice grounders and a throwing error. McGinnis made it hurt with a two-out double to left-centerfield to plate Currier.

It all came crashing down for Western when the Salukis came to bat in their half of the eighth. The Leathernecks committed two errors in the inning, allowing Southern Illinois to score three runs on just two hits. They were able to stop the bleeding with a double play and took their last rips down 8-6.

Western went down quietly in the ninth and fell to 0-8 to start the new campaign. The Leathernecks recorded 10 hits on the afternoon, two apiece from Visintine and Tschida. McGinnis collected two RBIs.

Western used three pitchers in the loss. Ian Koch got the start and battled through the first six innings, surrendering five earned runs and ten hits. Nate Westfahl gave up two hits and two runs (one earned) and fell to 0-2 on the year. Matthew Sturchio gave up one run in relief in the eighth.

The action continued on Saturday with the second game of the series. Western was able to bounce back from an early deficit with two runs in the third, but it was all Southern Illinois from that point.

Down 2-0 to start the third inning, Visintine ripped a double into left-centerfield. This plated Deion Thompson, who reached base on an error the play before. Visintine advanced to third on a single by McGinnis before he came home on a sacrifice bunt by Galassi to tie the game.

The Salukis would post four runs in the bottom half of the inning to begin what would be a long afternoon. Javin Drake picked up his third loss of the season in as many starts. The freshman surrendered nine runs (eight earned) in just three innings. Southern Illinois scored three more in the fourth and six to pick up the 12-2 victory.

Despite the loss, four of the six Leatherneck pitchers did not allow a run on the afternoon. Carson Cheesman, Connor Rektorski, Colan Borchers and J.T. Baksha all allowed a hit apiece in the later innings. Johnathan Fleek led Western with three hits on Saturday. Visintine and McGinnis recorded two hits each in the loss.

The Leathernecks fought valiantly in the series finale on Sunday to try to avoid starting 0-10. Despite keeping the Salukis off the scoreboard for the majority of the game, Western failed to climb their way back.

Southern Illinois posted their only three runs of the day in the second inning with nobody on and two outs. After an error kept the inning alive, the Salukis rattled off four straight hits to take the early advantage.

Visintine and McGinnis came through for the Leathernecks again on the weekend with an RBI apiece to bring Western within one run. This would be the final scoring of the afternoon.

With the exception of one inning for each team, it was a slow day at the ballpark. Alex Gutermuth of the Salukis picked up the win, allowing just one hit through two and two thirds innings of work. Preston Church went five innings for the Leathernecks and picked up the loss. He allowed five hits and three earned runs. Ryan Netemeyer of Southern Illinois got the save in the 3-2 decision.

Western begins the 2017 season with 10 straight non-conference losses. Each series has contained at least one game that the Leathernecks were well within reach of coming out victorious; they just haven’t found a way to get it done in the later innings yet.

The Leathernecks will not play series-structured baseball again until the start of Summit League play on March 17. Instead, they will travel to Dayton, Ohio next week to take on a number of different opponents.

Western will look for their first win of the season against Wright State (7-4) on Friday in Dayton. They will take on the University of Dayton (3-6) for a doubleheader on Saturday before concluding the weekend against Ohio on Sunday morning.

The Leathernecks will then stay in the state of Ohio for two games against Kent State (7-4) on March 14 and 15. Each team they will face before conference play have proven they can be successful this season and will be tough tests for Western.


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