The Mavericks hit the diamond this weekend to wrap up three straight weekends of baseball at brand-new Tal Anderson Field.
Omaha welcomed South Dakota State for a four-game series, which were the first games in 10 days for the Jackrabbits. The SDSU program was previously put on pause due to COVID-19 cases within the program.
Harrison Denk got the scoring started In the first inning of game one, scoring on a throwing error which gave Omaha an early 1-0 lead. Brett Bonar added an RBI single, while Brayden Eckhout plated another run on a sacrifice fly. Three Mavericks came across the plate in the inning, which gave them a lead that they would hold onto for the rest of the game.
Senior starter Joey Machado threw six one-hit innings and Jacob Mohler entered the game for a four-out appearance to seal the 6-1 win for Omaha.
Game two of the Friday twin bill yielded a similar result. Mike Boeve singled in the first and Chris Esposito stayed hot, hitting his fourth homer of the season to give Omaha a 2-0 lead.
Esposito added an RBI single in the second, continuing his recent success at the plate. Omaha plated another in the third thanks to a Masen Prososki single, but the Mavericks continued to pound the Jackrabbit pitching with a three-run fifth inning, propelling them to a 6-0 lead.
Omaha starter Spencer Koelewyn struck out nine over six and a third innings. Aside from a sacrifice fly in his last inning of work, Koelewyn allowed zero runs. Keil Krumwiede finished off the Jackrabbits in the ninth, giving the Mavericks the 6-1 win.
Richie Holetz took the mound for game three of the series, and the SDSU bats showed up early. Derek Hackman gave the Jackrabbits a 2-0 lead with a two-run homer in the third. However, the Mavericks responded with three runs in the fourth. Prososki brought home two runs, while Krumwiede plated another, both on RBI singles.
SDSU lifted another home run in fifth to put them back in front, but once again, the Mavericks responded with two runs. Omaha held a 6-4 advantage going into the eighth, but as was the story of the game, SDSU rallied for three runs to grab the lead back. The Mavericks couldn’t respond in the final two innings and fell 7-6.
A windy, yet sunny day was the scene for the final game of the series.
Ryan Doran hit a ground-rule double in the fourth that scored Esposito which notched the first run of the game. In the fifth, Boeve and Prososki each tallied an RBI, which gave Mark Timmins three insurance runs to work with in his first collegiate start.
Prososki later stole second, stole third, and then advanced home on a wild throw to the third baseman in the seventh, extending Omaha’s lead to 4-1. Boeve continued to scorch the ball at the plate, adding two more RBIs in the inning. Boeve, a true freshman from Hastings, is hitting .319 over his first 72 at-bats in a UNO uniform.
As for the Omaha Central product on the mound, Timmins took a shutout into the sixth. However, the Jackrabbits hit their third home run of the weekend. Timmins finished the day with 10 strikeouts over his eight innings of work.
Starting pitching was an obvious highlight of the weekend, and head coach Evan Porter says it’s simple to keep success on the mound.
“We have to practice better than we did last week and the week before,” he said. “We can’t get complacent. Another good non-conference opponent in Wichita is coming up, it’s another good opponent to test where we are at. That’s the next step.”
Even though it seemed everything went the Mavericks way this weekend, Porter says he expects the team to grow even more.
“I think our better days are still ahead of us,” he said. “Our pitchers have been great, and I think we will still play better defense as the year goes on. We can settle into a more routine lineup where right now we are still mixing guys around for spots, which is great.”
The Mavericks will hit the road for the first time in nearly a month this weekend as they head to Wichita State to take on the Shockers in a three-game series.