Leathenecks Take Down Cincinnati in Slugfest 12-11


MACOMB, IL – Western Illinois baseball came out victorious as they defeated the University of Cincinnati in a slugfest 12-11 on Tuesday night. Western Illinois scored 11 of their 12 runs in the first five innings, but a Liam Bushey RBI single in the 9th was the difference maker as Western Illinois improved to 4-10 overall.

Western Illinois offense was held scoreless in the top of the first as the Bearcats opened up a 3-0 lead in the bottom half of the inning. Western Illinois responded in the second as Liam Bushey started his phenomenal day with a leadoff walk. Brock Lummus followed, reaching on a fielder’s choice, which saw Bushey safe at second base on an error. J.R. Heavilin advanced everyone 90 feet with a single to right field. The Leatherneck got on the scoreboard as Jackson Horn drew a walk, bringing home Bushey. The Leathernecks kept their foot on the gas as Chris Hege went right back up in the middle, bringing in two runs, and WIU tied the game at 3-3. Maxton Polad gave WIU their first lead (4-3) of the afternoon, and he brought in Horn on a fielder’s choice.

Cincinnati took back the lead with two runs in the bottom of the second, but WIU did not stop fighting. Down 5-4, Liam Bushey led off the inning for the second straight time. Unlike the second inning, Bushey made the trip around the bases on one swing of the bat as he smacked his first home run of the series over the right field fence, tying the game at 5-5. The Leathernecks were not done. Lummus reached on an error, and Heavilin singled, moving Lummus to second base. Horn laid down a sacrifice bunt as both runners moved up 90 feet. Chris Hege was again the clutch as his groundout brought Lummus home, putting WIU in front 6-5. After a pitch hit, Polad and Adam Juran walked to load the bases. Cesar Franco shot a ball past the first basemen down the right field line, plating Heavilin and Polad as the Leathernecks grew their lead to 8-5.

The Bearcats wouldn’t go away, striking for three runs in the bottom half of the third as we were tied at 8 heading into the 4th inning. Western Illinois stayed patient at the plate as Bushey and Lummus drew back-to-back walks. Bushey and Lummus would be in action with one out in the inning as they swiped second and third base, putting themselves in scoring position. Bushey and Lummus stayed active on the base paths as Bushey scored on a passed ball two batters later, putting Western Illinois in front 9-8.

As they had down in the previous innings, Cincinnati battled back to take the lead as a two-run home run saw the Bearcats in front after four. WIU heads back to the batter’s box, determined in the 5th inning. Polad started the inning with a double and advanced to third on a flyout by Juran. Franco did the rest as the game was back tied on the RBI single. Western Illinois kept the train moving as Kyree Alexander advanced Franco to second base and Bushey drove him in with his third hit of the afternoon as WIU held an 11-10 lead.

Cincinnati tried to claw back into the game in the 5th and 6th inning. The Bearcats put the tying run in scoring position in the 5th, but Jacob Greenan slammed the scoring opportunity door shut with a flyout and a ground out. In the 6th, it was more of the same for Greenan as he got an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play to wipe out the Bearcats offense.
The Leathernecks offense slowed down scoring-wise as they stranded a one-out double by Bushey at second base in the 7th inning. The Bearcats would come back to tie it in the bottom half, and both teams headed to the 8th inning tied at 11. After a scoreless 8th inning by both offenses, Western Illinois jumped back in front in the 9th. Grant Palmer walked and then advanced to third on a Kyree Alexander sacrifice bunt that saw a fielding error by the Bearcats. Bushey dug into the batter’s box with two runners in scoring position, roping a line drive into right field, bringing home Palmer for the go-ahead run as the Leathernecks led 12-11. Cincinnati made it interesting in the 9th as they loaded the bases with no outs. Senior Caden Kratz did not get rattled as he got two pop-outs and a strike-out to strand the three Bearcat runners and give WIU the 12-11 win.

Liam Bushey was atop the Leatherneck’s offense, going a perfect 4-4 with three RBIs, a double, a home run, two walks, and three runs. Cesar Franco went 2-3 with a double, three RBIs, a walk, and he scored a run. Chris Hege had three RBIs on two hits. J.R. Heavilin had three hits in six plate appearances. Western Illinois hitters drew nine walks and were hit by a pitch three times. The Leathernecks offense had their leadoff hitter on base in seven of the nine innings.

The Leathernecks bullpen was once again dominant. Jacob Greenan, Kyle Rosenfeld, and Kratz combined for the last five innings of one-run baseball striking out four and only allowing two hits. Rosenfeld picked up his first win of the season, and Kratz picked up the save.

Western Illinois and Cincinnati square off in game two of the two-game series on Wednesday, with the first pitch scheduled for noon.

Copy Provided By Western Athletics Communications

Submit a Comment