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Leathernecks take two on the road in Fort Wayne

Sophomore+Deion+Thompson+crosses+home+plate+at+Alfred+D.+Boyer+Stadium+in+Macomb
Sophomore Deion Thompson crosses home plate at Alfred D. Boyer Stadium in Macomb

Sophomore Deion Thompson crosses home plate at Alfred D. Boyer Stadium in Macomb

Ariel Ramirez

Ariel Ramirez

Sophomore Deion Thompson crosses home plate at Alfred D. Boyer Stadium in Macomb

Devon Greene

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Following their offensive onslaught of the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville Cougars on Thursday, the Leathernecks (14-23, 10-8) went on the road for another Summit League series against the Fort Wayne Mastodons (7-29, 2-15).

Western kept their momentum going on Saturday with a 7-4 win over Fort Wayne. The Leathernecks opened the game strong. Drue Galassi, who posted a historic game on Thursday, recorded the first hit for Western with a single, Adam McGinnis stepped up to the plate next and sent a double to right field, allowing Galassi to step in and score. Chris Tschida came up next and sent a ball into left field and put McGinnis on third. Johnathan Fleek kept the Leathernecks hot streak going as he recorded an RBI single. The final run of the first inning came from Tschida, as big hitter Deion Thompson sent a ball to right field and extended Western’s lead to 3-0.

Offense continued rolling in the top of the second for the Leathernecks. With two men on base, the hot hand Galassi kept his hitting streak going and recorded an RBI single. McGinnis added two more runs, sending a ball into center field and bringing Galassi and Cord Church home. A 6-0 lead put Western in a comfortable position.

Fort Wayne’s first runs came in the Bottom of the third inning to tighten the gap against Western. Their first run of the game came from Zak Kellogg after a strong hit from Brady Hettinger. Two more runs scored after Jacob Dickinson singled into centerfield to put the score at 6-3 after three innings.

Western posted their final run of the game in the top of the fifth. A wild pitch allowed for McGinnis to steal home and extend Western’s lead to 7-3. Fort Wayne put a little more pressure on the Leathernecks in the seventh inning. Kellogg snuck into home again after a ground out from Jackson Boyce.

After one of their coldest games in recent memory, head coach Ryan Brownlee was happy that the Leathernecks responded well on the road against the Mastodons. Pitching proved crucial to ensure Western secured the game. Pete Minella recorded his third save of the season.

“We didn’t panic and I really liked the way Ian (Koch) attacked, and the three-pitch inning helped him get in to the eighth,” said Brownlee. “Pete (Minella) has also done a great job throwing strikes to where we knew that he wasn’t going to walk anybody when it was time to put him in.”

The second game of the series was not as favorable for the Leathernecks. A low-scoring affair led to the breaking up of Western’s four-game win streak.

It was a slow day for both teams on Saturday, with the only two runs coming in the bottom of the eighth inning.

Western did not find themselves past second base until the top of the sixth, but they weren’t able to capitalize on their opportunity.

“We just didn’t capitalize on our scoring opportunities, and when the wind is like that, you’re going to have a hard time scoring runs,” said Brownlee. “We had some opportunities to give ourselves a little bit of a cushion, but we just didn’t move the ball.”

Before Saturday’s game, the Leathernecks had scored at least five runs a game in their last six. Their offensive tear was brought to a screeching halt with a shutout in the second game of the series.

The only two runs of the game came from the Mastodons in the bottom of the eighth. Jackson Weber sent a single into center field and allowed for Brandon Yoho to score from second. The final run of the game came when Dylan Wilbert recorded an RBI single to put up Fort Wayne 2-0.

With one chance remaining in the game, Western couldn’t get anything going in the bottom of the ninth and finished with two pop flies and a ground out to end the game and Fort Wayne grabbing the 2-0 win at home.

The series came to an end on Sunday as Western got back on the winning track with a 15-5 blowout that ended with one inning to spare.

After two scoreless innings, the Leathernecks opened the game and took an early lead. Galassi proved once again how valuable he is to this Leathernecks team. He recorded an RBI on a double to center field as Western struck first on the day. McGinnis came up next and grounded out but he did just enough to bring home Galassi to bring the lead to 2-0. Western added another run in the top of the fourth on an RBI-single from Steve McShane that brought home Roman Visintine to extend the lead to 3-0.

Fort Wayne did not go down easy, and the Mastodons came fighting back in the bottom of the inning. Dickinson hit his second home run of the year to put Fort Wayne right back in it shrinking the lead to 3-2.

Western answered back quickly in the top of the fifth. Deion Thompson came up to the plate with runners on second and third. A RBI-single pushed the lead to 5-2 as Conner Currier and McGinnis sprinted home. However, the Mastodons didn’t stay down long. The back-and-forth battle continued in the bottom of the inning. Fort Wayne hit their second home run of the day, this time from Hettinger, and added three runs to their total on the day and tied the game up at 5-5.

The Leathernecks found their offense quickly in the top of the sixth with an eight-run inning. Galassi continued his amazing hot streak at the plate and sent his sixth home run of the season into right field with McShane on base. After a sac bunt from Currier, McGinnis found himself in scoring position once again. Two straight runs would come via two RBIsingles from Johnathan Fleek and Thompson.

Western added another run after a throwing error by the Mastodon’s catcher allowed for Mitch Ellis to steal home. The scorching hot offensive inning for Western added its final two runs on an RBI-single from McGinnis sent McShane and CJ Shaffer home. The 13-5 lead proved too much to overcome for Fort Wayne. Western added two more runs in the top of the eighth inning. Back-to-back RBIs from Fleek and Thompson pushed the lead to 10 and closed the game out with Fort Wayne unable to score a run in the inning to bring on mercy rule. Western won their fourth Summit League series of the season and improved their in-conference record to 10-8.

They will face Illinois State in Normal on Monday.

Twitter: @LewAicindor

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The independent student newspaper of Western Illinois University. Serving Macomb since 1905.
Leathernecks take two on the road in Fort Wayne