Jacks fall in Summit opener
ROCHESTER, Mich. – Western Illinois scored two unearned runs in the top of the seventh inning, knocking off top-seeded South Dakota State, 4-2, in the opening game of the Summit League Baseball Championship.
The Fighting Leathernecks, who received an eight-inning pitching performance from Aaron Michel, improved to 19-35 overall and will face the winner between second-seeded Oakland or third-seeded North Dakota State at noon Eastern Time (11 a.m. Central) on Saturday. SDSU, which fell to 31-22 overall, will face the loser of the Oakland-North Dakota State game, which was moved to noon Eastern Time Friday due to rain, in an elimination game at 3 p.m. Eastern on Friday.
The Fighting Leathernecks grabbed a 2-0 lead with a pair of runs in the third inning off Summit League Pitcher of the Year Layne Somsen. J.P. Maestas drew a leadoff walk, which was followed by consecutive bunt singles by Zach Burling and Dan Dispensa. Jameson Henning drove in the first run of the game with a sacrifice fly and Steve Kedroski added a run-scoring groundout two batters later.
SDSU got on the board in the fourth as Nick Andrews walked and came around to score on a sacrifice fly by Aaron Machbitz. The Jackrabbbits plated the tying run an inning later after Scott Splett recorded his third hit of the game and scored all the way from first on a throwing error.
WIU used aggressive baserunning in the seventh to take the lead. A double steal by Burling and Dispensa put runners at second and third base with two outs. Jameson Henning then reached on a throwing error, which allowed both runners to score.
The Jackrabbits could only muster one hit and a walk in their final three at-bats. Splett finished with half of SDSU’s six hits.
Dispensa went 3-for-4 to lead Western Illinois, while Neil DeCook and Maestas each tallied two of the Fighting Leathernecks’ 12 hits.
Michel scattered six hits, walked two and struck out one in his eight innings. Brian Loconsole pitched around a leadoff walk in the ninth to record his ninth save of the season.
Somsen struck out eight and walked two in seven innings in taking the loss for the Jackrabbits. The senior from Yankton fell to 4-5 on the season.
WESTERN ILLINOIS 4, SOUTH DAKOTA STATE 2
WIU 002 000 20 4-12-2
SDSU 000 110 00 2-6-1
WIU: Aaron Michel, Brian Loconsole (9) and Mark Garton. SDSU: Layne Somsen, Chad Hodges (8) and Reid Clary.
W-Michel (4-2). L-Somsen (4-5). Save-Loconsole (9).
UPDATED TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE:
Thursday, May 23
Game 1: No. 4 Western Illinois 4, No. 1 South Dakota State 2
Game 2: No. 2 Oakland vs. No. 3 North Dakota State -- ppd, moved to 5/24
Friday, May 24
Game 2: No. 2 Oakland vs. No. 3 North Dakota State, noon ET
Game 3: No. 1 South Dakota State vs. Oakland-NDSU loser, 3 p.m. ET (loser eliminated)
Saturday, May 25
Game 4: Oakland-NDSU winner vs. Western Illinois, noon ET
Game 5: Game 3 winner vs. Game 4 loser (loser eliminated)
Sunday, May 26
Game 6: Game 4 winner vs. Game 5 winner
Game 7: Game 6 winner vs. Game 6 loser (if necessary)