MACOMB, Ill. – 4/8/12, Southern Utah came just short of completing a four-game sweep of Western Illinois in its opening Summit League series of the season Sunday morning as the Leathernecks used a pair of late runs to edge the visiting Thunderbirds by a final score of 4-2. Even with the loss SUU is still off to a 3-1 start in conference play to go along with an overall mark of 9-22. WIU is now 1-3 after earning its first win in the league and 10-17-1 on the year.
Western Illinois took an early 1-0 lead in the game when Austin Cowen hit an RBI triple to right field to score Ryan Cowhey from second in the opening frame. The Leathernecks held onto their one-run advantage until the top of the fifth when SUU posted two runs to go ahead by a score of 2-1.
Thunderbird outfielder David Headley leveled the score with an RBI triple to deep left-center and then reached home on a sac fly off the bat of Bo Cuthbertson to give Southern Utah its first lead of the game. The bottom half of the inning saw Western Illinois record a sac fly RBI of its own to even the score up at 2-2.
Cowhey came through for the Leathernecks once again in the seventh inning with a two-run RBI double that would prove to be the difference as the home team held on for the 4-2 win.
Cuthbertson and Headley each drove in a run for the Thunderbirds and Justin Neuhart finished the game 2-of-4 at the plate. Western Illinois was led by Cowhey who went 2-for-3 with three RBI.
SUU starter Justin Neubauer took the loss and moves to 3-3 on the year after allowing four runs on nine hits in just over six innings on the mound. The junior lefty also struck out four batters. Seth Fuller earned a win in his first decision of the year after providing two-and-two-thirds innings of scoreless relief for the Leathernecks.
Southern Utah will open its final Summit League home schedule next week by hosting conference favorite Oral Roberts. The Thunderbirds and Golden Eagles will begin their four-game series this Thursday at 3 p.m. (MT)