WIU 14, SOUTH DAKOTA STATE 4: Leathernecks’ Offense Erupts To Snap Losing Streak


MACOMB, Ill. β€” Tayler Sheriff figured it was time Western Illinois’ baseball team put on a show.

The Leathernecks did that in Saturday’s 14-4 win over South Dakota State, and it couldn’t have come at a better time.

Western Illinois (4-21 overall, 1-4 Summit League) snapped a 10-game losing streak and set itself up to win a crucial conference series with the Jackrabbits (7-17, 3-5).

“It felt good,” said Sheriff, the Leathernecks’ interim head coach. “It had been a long time. We had been scuffling a little bit. We had been in some games, we just had a hard time getting over the hump, just finishing a (win) or getting a big hit to win a game.”

The Leathernecks had suffered a 6-3 10-inning loss to the Jackrabbits on Friday, and Sheriff knew how important it was for his team to recover.

“I told the team that we had played a lot of tight games, and let’s just go out and leave no doubt tomorrow,” Sheriff said. “Just go explode and score a bunch of runs and pitch well.”

The Leathernecks had 12 hits and took advantage of 14 walks. Every Western Illinois starter reached base and scored a run.

Western Illinois scored five runs in the fourth inning to take a 6-1 lead, added two runs in the seventh after South Dakota State got to within 6-4, then ended a game with a six-run eighth inning that included eight consecutive walks.

“It took us a little while to get going,” Sheriff said. “We made some mistakes on the bases early that cost us opportunities, but we stayed with it. They gave us some stuff in the fourth, and in the eighth inning with the walks. But we just stayed with our approach at the plate. It just felt nice to blow it open and coast at the end and take the pressure off a little bit.”

Nick Mitchell drove in three runs for the Leathernecks. Derek Botalitto had three hits.

Tyler Kapraun (2-4) was the winning pitcher, scattering six hits over six innings. He walked four and struck out six.

“That’s been our message to our starters,” Sheriff said. “Our bullpen has struggled this year and we’ve let him some runs late. So we kind of challenged them a little bit, shake things up, say, hey, we need six innings to give us a chance.”

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