Baseball misses out on upset agains No. 10 Arkansas

Taylor Jordan, Courier Staff

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FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Western Illinois baseball team spent their spring break traveling to Arkansas where they fell short in two games against the 2018 College World Series runners-up. The Leathernecks took on their stiffest competition yet in the 10th-ranked team in the nation on Tuesday and Wednesday inside Baum-Walker Stadium.

The Leathernecks are coming off a 2-1 last weekend over Saint Louis. The Purple and Gold shutout SLU in their first game 3-0, held tight for a 5-4 victory for the second game but fell short in the last game 2-8.

Western held the Razorbacks to three hits through the first four innings, before falling 8-0 in their first game. Drue Galassi put an end to Arkansas’ no-hitter with an infield single in the fifth inning, as his team trailed 3-0 on the scoreboard, and the hit marked Western’s only one of the game.

Alex Dorethy was given the start and restricted the home side to just three hits in his appearance (3.1 innings) with runs scored on an RBI-groundout in the first frame before Arkansas got the bases loaded in the fourth. The Razorbacks extended its advantage to 3-0 on a walk and sacrifice fly, with Javin Drake called to escape the inning.

Western used two more pitchers, Jordan Cheek and Chandler Fochs in the game. This outing marked Fochs’ second of the season, and he saw the most action on the mound, behind Dorethy, in two innings with two hits, one run and a strikeout.

Arkansas took game No. 2 on Wednesday with an 11-1 final. The first run was the result of an error in the second inning, and the Razorbacks continued to expand their lead in each of the next three frames to hold a 7-0 control by the end of the fifth.

Western responded in the sixth when Kevin Raisbeck and Dillion Sears each touched base to start the inning. Arkansas was well on its way to logging its third-consecutive shutout before Bailey Montgomery brought a run home on an RBI-single to left field. It snapped a streak of 23-consecutive scoreless innings thrown by the Razorbacks pitching staff going back to its 11-0 shutout of Louisiana Tech last Sunday. Wednesday’s game marked the ninth in the last 10 games that Hog pitchers have struck out 10 or more and ninth time they’ve walked two or less.

Seven Leatherneck pitchers made an appearance in the afternoon, kicked off by Justin Foy and Jace Warkentien, who each worked two full innings with three strikeouts. Warkentien had notched a pair of saves against SLU, coming in relief in the first two games, and persisted with another stellar effort on 3.1 innings in the finale.

Western have started their Summit League schedule weekend against the Jackrabbits. Due to weather-related issues, the weekend’s series between Western Illinois and South Dakota State will be moved to the University of Illinois-Springfield. The teams will play a doubleheader on Saturday and a single-game Sunday.

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