Baseball unsuccessful in Opening Weekend

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Baseball unsuccessful in Opening Weekend

CJ Schaeffer behind the plate for Western

CJ Schaeffer behind the plate for Western

Jasmyne Taylor/ Courier Staff

CJ Schaeffer behind the plate for Western

Jasmyne Taylor/ Courier Staff

Jasmyne Taylor/ Courier Staff

CJ Schaeffer behind the plate for Western

Haley Richards, Assistant Sports Editor

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MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — The Western Illinois University baseball team headed to Tennessee for the start of their 2018 season. The Leathernecks played a three-game series against the Blue Raiders of Middle Tennessee State University. Unfortunately, the Purple and Gold could not find a win in their Opening Weekend and will start the season with a record of 0-3.

Their first game was on Friday afternoon at Reese Smith Jr. Field where the home team walked away with the 2-0 win. The game started off slow, there were no runs scored until the fifth inning.

“We had an opportunity to blow that game open in the first two innings – push one or two across there and you can breathe a little bit,” said head coach Ryan Brownlee. “That’s something that we will get better at. We just got to make sure we’re forcing the pitcher to be in the strike zone with runners in scoring position.”

Junior pitcher Ian Koch threw six innings on the day. He only allowed two runs and matched his career-high seven strikeouts. Senior pitchers Pete Minella and Colan Borchers stepped in and yielded just one hit. Borchers recorded three strikeouts in just 1.1 innings.

“Middle [Tennessee State] is a pretty aggressive team, and you want to try to take that away from them at times,” said Brownlee. “Ian [Koch], Pete [Minella] and [Colan] Borchers all did a really good job of executing pitches, especially two-strike pitches, which is why our strikeout totals were up. All three of those guys did a good job. When they got into trouble, they worked around it. They are veteran pitchers.”

Offensively for the Leathernecks, senior infielders Mitch Ellis and Jonathan Fleek, junior utility Bailey Montgomery and senior outfielder Dave Dobrinich all tallied singles in their first game of the season.

The second game of the series was played on Sunday and Western lost 11-7. The Leathernecks competed for the entire game, earning six runs in the last few innings, but it was not enough to overcome the deficit.

The leaders for game two were junior catcher CJ Schaeffer with three hits, two runs and one RBI. Junior outfielder Steve McShane and sophomore outfielder Grant Hannant both had three hits and one run. Junior shortstop Deion Thompson recorded a game-high two RBIs.

The third and final game of the series followed game two in a double-header series where the Leathernecks fell 9-3. This was another game where the Leathernecks battled until the end. McShane and Hannant both recorded back-to-back RBI singles in the ninth inning to put some more points on the board.

Senior pitcher Ryan Dunne made his debut for Western Illinois and pitched a total of 4.2 innings. He ended the game with seven strikeouts, eight hits and five runs.

The Purple and Gold will hit the road again this weekend. This time, they are headed to Murray, Kentucky to face Murray State University. Western will play a three-game series against the Racers. The first game is set for Friday at 1 p.m. and the last game of the series will be played on Sunday

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