Baseball loses series to North Dakota State Bison 2-1

Michael Harms , Courier Staff

The Western Illinois Leathernecks only pulled off one win in the three-game series against North Dakota State Bison, dropping to 16-25 overall and 10-11 in conference.

The series was a battle of position in The Summit League as both teams sit at No. 4 and No. 5 in the standings. In the first series against the Bison, the Leathernecks also only left with one win. The Bison have now earned their spot ahead of the Leathernecks chasing Oral Roberts at No. 3 with a record of 12-6.

The first matchup highlighted a career performance from Jace Warkentien. The left handed pitcher started the game and lasted seven innings, striking out a career high 10 batters and only allowing four hits and two runs. These were both career highs for the sophomore pitcher as Western won comfortably 7-2.

When a baseball team has good starting pitching, wins can come pretty easily. And that was the story of game one as Warkentien kept bothering the bats of the Bison as Western had no problem finding the ball at the plate.

Drew Galassi did his work. At the plate he went three for five. One of those hits was a homer to center, driving in two of his three RBIs. He rounded the bases once more to score himself, but his work was just the highlight of this win.

After winning the first on Friday night, Western scheduled a double header for Saturday due to inclement weather, and Saturday was not the Purple and Gold’s best outing. They dropped both games 7-1 and 8-7.

The first game was a simple great pitching performance from Max Loven. Nine innings pitched, only five hits and one run. Game one wasn’t within Western’s reach of a comeback, but the second game came close.

In the top of the sixth, the score was 8-2 in the Bison’s favor. The seventh inning was the Leathernecks’ chance to spring back into the lead. They drove in four runs and went through two Bison pitchers before they could finally end the half inning.

It proved futile in the end as they lost by only one run, but gave the team something to take away headed into their first game of their last non-conference matchup the Iowa Hawkeyes.

The 2017 big 10 tournament champs will be a strong opponent for Western. With a 26-15 overall record with multiple ranked teams on their schedule, Iowa will be Western’s toughest regular season test.

Iowa has found themselves right near the top 40 in baseball with wins against University of Illinois and ranked opponent Nebraska they find themselves unable to crack the top 25 rankings, but consistently near the conversation. Western on the other had struggles to be near the top of their own conference.

They will play two games against Iowa, the first this Tuesday at Iowa and the other matchup coming May 14 at home.