Baseball heads to Fort Wayne

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File Photo

Ian Koch throws out a pitch.

David Koier, Courier Staff

The Western Illinois Leathernecks baseball team travels to Indiana this weekend to face off in a conference matchup against the Mastodons of Fort Wayne. The teams face off on Friday at 2 p.m., Saturday at 1 p.m. and Sunday at 12 p.m. in Fort Wayne.

Starting on the mound for the Leathernecks this weekend for their respective games are righties junior Ian Koch, senior Ryan Dunne and sophomore Javin Drake. Opposed to them for the Mastodons will be right-handers Brandon Phelps and Shane Odzark and lefty Damian Helm, respectively.

The Leathernecks haven’t been having a lot of luck this season. So far six games have been called off due to rainouts. In comparison to last season, the Leathernecks only had two rainouts.

In the Purple and Gold’s last outing against the Tigers of Missouri University, the two teams were only able to play two successful innings of baseball before the game was called off due to rain. Drake was able to pitch for those two innings and tossed three strikeouts keeping the Tigers hitless. Junior Bailey Montgomery recorded the only hit for the Leathernecks before the cancellation of the game.

The Leathernecks are 3-15 on the season with a 2-2-conference record scoring both wins against the North Dakota State Bison, while one loss is from the Bison and the other coming from the Jackrabbits of South Dakota State.

Junior infielder Deion Thompson has had a strong offensive presence for the Purple and Gold this season. Thompson has a .288 batting average and is one of two Leathernecks who have started in every game this season. Thompson has 19 hits on the season and is currently working on a six-game hitting streak. He has reached base in the last 11 games of this season.

Other streaks for the Purple and Gold also have to deal with reaching base in consecutive games. Montgomery and junior outfielder Steve McShane have both reached base in 12 straight games and their streak leads the team.

There are several players on the Leathernecks who are on the leaderboard for the Summit League in different batting and pitching categories. Montgomery is tied for fourth with a .333 batting average. Thompson isn’t only good at getting on base; he is also good at stealing them. Thompson is tied for third in the League with seven stolen bases on the year.

The Purple and Gold’s pitchers are very good at striking out opponents. Dunne and Koch are both on the leaderboard for strikeouts. Dunne leads the Summit League with 35 and Koch places fifth on the board with an even 30 on the year. Redshirt freshman Alex Dorethy, finds himself on the saves leaderboard placing fifth so far this season with his lone save.

The Leathernecks are struggling a bit this season when it comes to hitting. The bats have been quiet in recent games. If the Leathernecks are looking to reach to the top of the Summit this year, their bats need to heat up at the right time. If there is a time to heat them up, this weekend in Fort Wayne seems like a good place to start. Conference play is still young in the Summit League, but the race for the top spot is very close.

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