MACOMB, Ill. – Mike Robinson pitched seven solid innings and received plenty of run support from a Jackrabbit offense that hit five home runs as South Dakota State completed a series sweep of Western Illinois with a 16-7 victory Sunday afternoon at Alfred D. Boyer Stadium.

 

Jesse Sawyer hit a pair of two-run home runs in the late innings for the Jackrabbits, who improved to 14-25 overall and took a percentage-points lead for the fourth and final playoff spot in The Summit League race by upping their conference mark to 7-8. WIU fell to 8-26 overall, 4-11 in league play.

 

SDSU wasted little time to assert itself, scoring five times in the top of the first inning, sending 11 batters to the plate. Stephen Turner continued his hot hitting with a double that scored the first two runs. Eric Cain and Jesse Ayala sandwiched run-scoring singles around a sacrifice fly from Billy Stitz to close out the scoring.

 

After Drew Laidig put the Leathernecks on the board in the bottom of the first with a two-run homer, SDSU delivered the knockout blow with a four-run second inning. Zach  Briggs slugged a three-run homer off Laidig and Stitz hit a solo shot two batters later to give the Jackrabbits a 9-2 lead.

 

The Jackrabbit lead grew to 12-2 after a Briggs sacrifice fly in the fourth and two more runs in the fifth inning. Jesse Ayala led off the fifth with a home run, with Tony Martin adding a sacrifice fly.

 

Meanwhile, Robinson kept WIU off the board until the sixth inning, when he gave up three straight singles – the last by John Koszulinski which scored Laidig.

 

Sawyer capped the Jackrabbit scoring with two-run home runs in each of the seventh and ninth innings, scoring John Lee ahead of him both times.

 

Western Illinois scored its final four runs against the Jackrabbit bullpen, plating an unearned run in the eighth and three runs in the ninth. Curt Myers hit a two-run home run with one out in the ninth to complete the scoring.

 

Robinson allowed eight hits, but struck out six and did not walk a batter in evening his record at 3-3.

 

SDSU out-hit Western Illinois by an 18-12 count. Ayala led the way with a 4-for-5 day at the plate, followed by three hits from Turner. Joel Blake, Lee, Sawyer and Martin each tallied two hits.

 

Laidig was 3-for-5 to lead the Leathernecks.

 

The Jackrabbits are scheduled to play their final 14 regular season games at home, starting Tuesday with a 2 p.m. matchup against Creighton (Neb.). Minnesota makes a trip to Erv Huether Field on Wednesday, before SDSU hosts Oakland (Mich.) in another key four-game Summit League series May 1-3.

 

Notes: SDSU completed its second four-game sweep of a Summit League series since joining the league in 2008 ... the Jackrabbits out-scored WIU 65-38 in the series, reaching double figures for runs in all four games ... SDSU hit 16 home runs in the four games, including four each by Sawyer and Turner ... Turner hit .550 (11-for-20) and drove in 16 runs in the series ... as a team, the Jackrabbits hit .436 in the series ... over the last eight games, Sawyer is batting .500 (14-for-28) with nine home runs, 15 RBI, 19 runs scored and a 1.536 slugging percentage ... Ayala and Turner each extended their hitting streaks to nine games

 

SOUTH DAKOTA STATE 16, WESTERN ILLINOIS 7

SDSU     540         120         202         16-18-2

WIU        200         001         013         7-12-2

SDSU: Mike Robinson, Matt Spinar (8), Blaine Alberta (9) and Zach Briggs, Tony Martin (7). WIU: Drew Laidig, David Hill (2), Austin Brough (5), Scott Fuchs (9) and John Koszulinski.

W-Robinson (3-3). L-Laidig (0-2).

HR: SDSU-Jesse Sawyer 2 (13), Zach Briggs (4), Billy Stitz (2), Jesse Ayala (2); WIU-Drew Laidig (4), Curt Myers (1).