MACOMB, Ill. (SDSU) — Western Illinois grabbed the lead with a five-run fourth inning and pulled away in the late innings for a 14-4, eight-inning victory over South Dakota State in the middle game of a three-game Summit League baseball series Saturday afternoon at Alfred D. Boyer Stadium.
In picking up their first league victory, the Fighting Leathernecks improved to 4-21 overall and 1-4 in The Summit League. SDSU dropped to 7-17 overall and 3-5 in league play.
After WIU took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second, the Jackrabbits tied the game in the top of the third on a solo home run by Reece Anderson. Anderson and Cade Stuff would each finish with two of SDSU’s eight hits in the game.
The Fighting Leathernecks sent nine men to the plate in the fateful fourth inning. After reliever Brady Hawkins retired the leadoff batter of the inning, the next six WIU batters all reached safely, highlighted by run-scoring singles by Max Slavens and Derek Botaletto and a two-run double by Nick Mitchell. The final run of the inning scored on a groundout.
Blake Kunz finished the fourth inning and followed with a pair of shutout innings in relief for SDSU as the Jackrabbits drew to within 6-4 on a three-run home run by Luke Ira in the top of the seventh. For Ira, it was his second home run of the series after hitting the go-ahead grand slam in the top of the 10th inning in Friday’s opener.
WIU responded with a pair of runs in the home half of the seventh on a run-scoring triple by Chase VanDerGinst, who later scored on a single by Aron Harrington.
Things went from bad to worse for the Jackrabbits in the eighth as the pitching staff struggled with its control. Botaletto, who was 3-for-5 to lead WIU’s 12-hit attack, started the six-run rally in the eighth with the lone hit of the frame. Three SDSU hurlers then combined to walk each of the next eight batters to put the 10-run rule into effect.
In all, SDSU hurlers issued 14 free passes in the game — 13 bases on balls and a hit batter.
Western Illinois starter Tyler Kapraun earned the victory after allowing one run over six innings. The left-hander struck out six and walked four.
The series finale is slated for 1 p.m. Sunday.
- SDSU leads the all-time series, 41-30
- Both Ryan McDonald and Nic Nelson reached base safely for the 13th consecutive game for the Jackrabbits
- Stuff posted his eighth multi-hit game of the season
- Ira recorded his fifth multi-RBI game of 2023