Western Courier

Leathernecks take 1, Mother Nature takes 2

Senior Chris Tschida locks in at the plate on a muddy field in Macomb against Omaha on Friday.

Senior Chris Tschida locks in at the plate on a muddy field in Macomb against Omaha on Friday.

Jasmyne Taylor

Jasmyne Taylor

Senior Chris Tschida locks in at the plate on a muddy field in Macomb against Omaha on Friday.

Campbell Atkins

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The Western Illinois baseball team (16-23, 11-8 in Summit League play) took the opening game of a scheduled threegame series against the Omaha Mavericks (10-31, 7-12) on Friday 3-1 before the remaining two contests were washed out due to rain in Macomb. The Leathernecks sit at second place in the Summit League standings behind the Oral Roberts Golden Eagles (30-11, 18-2).

Western was outhit by the Mavericks 6-4 on Friday but still manages to pull away with the victory. All of the scoring for both sides came in the first three innings of play. Chris Tschida brought home two runs that ultimately made the difference as Western starter Ian Koch and reliever Pete Minella cruised.

“Ian did a good job; he always gives us a chance,” said Western Illinois head baseball coach Ryan Brownlee after the win. “Pete has been outstanding. He got himself into a little bit of trouble but worked out of it and we obviously played great defense.”

Tschida and the Leathernecks drew first blood in the bottom of the first inning. The senior infielder brought home Steve McShane, who doubled to leadoff the inning, on a sacrifice fly down the right field line to crack Omaha starter Sam Murphy early on.

The Mavericks retaliated in the third. Shortstop Jack Kalina led off the inning with a single. He was moved into scoring position and eventually reached third on a sacrifice bunt. With Kalina 90 feet away from tying the game, Omaha’s Cole Thibondeau dropped down another bunt down the first baseline. The ball settled on the foul line, staying fair and tying the game at one.

The Western offense went right back to work off Murphy in the bottom half of the frame. Cord Church put the Leathernecks in business with a leadoff double and moved into third on Mc- Shane’s sacrifice bunt. Drue Galassi then recorded RBI number 27 on the season to put Western on top for good.

The inning continued and Galassi stole second while Adam McGinnis was at the plate. He would make great contact but failed to pick up a clutch hit with a runner in scoring position.

He lined out hard to Sam Palensky at third, and he whipped the ball back to second base in an attempt to double up Galassi. The ball deflected off of Galassi’s helmet and bounced far enough away for him to advance to third base. Tschida then stepped up again in a tough spot and ripped a single to leftfield to score the unearned run.

The RBI-single from Tschida was the last hit Murphy would allow on the afternoon. Omaha’s senior southpaw picked up a very tough loss on Friday, allowing just two earned runs in eight innings of work. Since it wasn’t necessary for Western to bat in the bottom of the ninth, Murphy recorded a complete game. Murphy surrendered just four hits in the outing and struck out seven Leathernecks.

“(Murphy) has been good and you know what to expect out of him,” Brownlee said. “If you have any opportunities to score you have to take advantage of them, because they are few and far between. We scored three runs on four hits and left just two runners on base. We were very economical today.”

While Murphy cruised for the remainder of the contest, Western couldn’t keep Omaha from threatening. Koch recorded two outs in the seventh inning before Minella relieved him. Omaha was able to put at least one man on base in every inning, whether it was via a hit, walk or error. Leatherneck pitching bent but refused to break and never let the Mavericks cross the plate outside of their lone run in the third inning.

Minella earned a long save on the day for his fourth of the season. He went 2.1 innings and allowed just one hit. Koch picked up the win and improved to 5-2 on the season. He struck out six Mavericks and scattered seven walks and five hits.

“That’s been kind of a staple for us the last month, really good pitching and defense,” Brownlee said. “Now we are getting some timely hitting too, and that gives you a chance to get on a roll. We’ve now won 8 of our last 11, but you have to keep doing all of those things to stay on a consistent roll and keep inching forward to the tournament.”

The Leathernecks never got the chance to stay consistent at Alfred D. Boyer Stadium this weekend. Both Games 2 and 3 were scheduled for a double- header on Sunday morning, but that was canceled as well. The games will not be made up.

The Leathernecks will stay home and welcome the Iowa Hawkeyes of the Big 10 to Macomb on Tuesday at 4 p.m. This will be a rematch of a midweek contest on April 11 in Iowa City, where the Hawkeyes defeated Western 4-1.

The Leathernecks will then conclude their season with nine straight games in the conference to determine their spot in the postseason tournament. Twitter: @campbellatkins4

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The independent student newspaper of Western Illinois University. Serving Macomb since 1905.
Leathernecks take 1, Mother Nature takes 2