Baseball drops first two games in series with Omaha Mavericks


Josh Purnell/ Courier Staff

CJ Schaeffer stays ready to catch a pitch.

Christopher Bean, Assistant Sports Editor

MACOMB, Ill. — The Western Illinois men’s baseball team traveled to Omaha to take on the first place Omaha Mavericks. The Leathernecks fell to 8-16 and 2-6 in Summit League play. The Mavericks are 16-6-1, and 8-0 in the conference.

The Necks continue to struggle on the road, dropping two games to the Omaha Mavericks. Omaha headed into the weekend as the best team in the Summit and remained there after the weekend. The Mavericks got off to a hot start in the first game, when Ben Palensky drove in Jack Lombardi on an RBI single. Two batters later, Parker Smejkal reached on an error by short stop Deion Thompson, scoring Braden Rodgers for the second run in the first. Starting pitcher Jace Warkentien settled into the game and pitched three scoreless innings in-a-row. However, the Mavericks added three to their lead to make it 5-0 after five innings. They would score three more runs in the next two innings, giving them their biggest lead of the game, 8-0. The Necks finally scored in the eighth when CJ Schaeffer hit into a fielder’s choice, scoring Drue Galassi. Western would get one more in the ninth thanks to Kevin Raisbeck’s single scoring Grant Hannant, but the Mavericks held on to win 8-2.

In the second game of the weekend, the Mavericks scored the game’s first run in the third when Matt Bondarchuk stole second, allowing Breyden Eckhout to score from third. The Mavericks scored again when Bondarchuk grounded out to second, scoring Eckhout to make it 2-0. This was the only earned run Javin Drake gave up. Drake pitched 7 innings, allowing 7 hits and two walks while striking out 10. For the second game in-a-row, Western did not score a run in the first seven innings. However, they would not go away easily. Hannant scored their first run on a fielder’s choice. Alex Dorethy hit a pinch hit singled up the middle, scoring Raisbeck to tie the game at two. The next at bat, Schaffer broke the tie on his RBI single, scoring Diego Munoz. However, the Mavericks answered right back in the bottom half of the inning when Palensky ripped a double to left center, tying the game at 3. The Leathernecks went 1-2-3 in the top of the ninth. Lombardi led the bottom half of the inning with a lead-off walk, and quickly got to third on a passed ball and wild pitch. Bondarchuk singled up the middle to give Omaha a 4-3 walk-off win.

The Leathernecks move onto Peoria to take on the Braves from Bradley University on Tuesday night. The Braves are 12-9 this year, and 0-2 in the Missouri Valley. The Necks continue to find consistency on the road after a 2-11 start to the season.