After losing the Friday opener, the Mavericks were on the verge of blowing a four-run lead and the series on Saturday night. However, an eighth inning rally in game two and a gem of an outing from Charlie Bell on Sunday gave Omaha a series win.
Mavericks bested by Leathernecks in series opener
Omaha’s offense struggled to bring in runs against the Western Illinois pitchers on Friday night in their 5-2 loss. The Mavericks had nine hits but ultimately were only able to score on two and left a runner on and in scoring position in four innings.
“I think it’s being more committed at the plate and finding a way to not have weak contact,” said Omaha head coach Evan Porter. “We only had less than three or four ground ball outs today. We didn’t make their infielders make any tough plays or put pressure on their defense.”
Omaha’s two runs came in the fourth and sixth innings. To open the fourth, Devin Hurdle got a hold of a pitch and blasted it over the Leathernecks’ bullpen, scoring for the Mavericks. Omaha’s second run was brought in by Noah Greise, pinch hit for Matt Goetzmann, on a sacrifice fly to right field.
Unfortunately, for the Mavericks they were down 3-0 in the game before they were on the board due to a three-run home run in the top of the fourth inning. Other than the long ball, Omaha starter Preston Tenney gave the Mavericks another solid outing since stepping into the Friday starter role. The Parker, Colorado native pitched six innings, gave up six hits, four runs – three earned – struck out five, and walked one.
“We had a couple blunders in the field, and he shouldn’t have given up two extra runs,” Porter said. ‘It’s really disappointing because it’s a lot different feel when it’s 3-2 instead of a three run ballgame.”
Omaha rallies in eighth inning to even the series
Harrison Kreiling was outstanding for the Mavericks on Saturday and pitched six innings of shutout baseball. The starter handed the game over to the bullpen and disaster struck, but the offense picked up the relievers and gave Omaha an 11-8 win on senior night.
“Sometimes you just have to find a way, and we’ve been struggling to do that,” Porter said. “Proud of the guys to respond that way in the eighth. When you give up a big inning like that you can either roll over or you can fight. Our guys find a way to fight.”
The game was all Omaha through the first seven innings, starting with Cam Frederick giving the Mavericks an early lead with a two-run single in the first inning. The Leathernecks did not get on the board until the top of the seventh when Jack Sievers doubled to center field and scored Chase VanDerGist. Omaha responded with three runs of their own in the seventh, giving themselves insurance with a four-run lead heading to the eighth inning.
That insurance policy was short lived as the top of the eighth inning was one that never seemed to end. When it was finally said and done, Western Illinois was on top 8-5. The Leathernecks recorded five hits in the inning, and a pair of errors by Omaha led to seven runs for the visiting team. The Mavericks used three pitchers to get out of the inning, two of which did not record an out.
With their backs against the wall and the series on the line, Omaha showed the fight that Coach Porter talked about in the eighth inning, scoring six runs of their own. No moment was larger than Mike Boeve’s at bat with two runners on and the Mavericks trailing 8-6. The future MLB draft pick delivered for Omaha and roped a double to the wall, scoring the two runners and tying the game at eight apiece.
“I kind of like those big moments, and that was one that thankfully that ball dropped,” Boeve said. “I love coming up in a situation like that, because I always want to come through.”
The Mavericks were not done in the eighth inning and added three more runs to their total. In a poetic finish for senior night, fifth-year senior Jackson Gordon, the lone veteran from the 2019 Summit League winning team, was handed the ball in the ninth and recorded the save. This was Gordon’s sixth career save and his first of the year.
One part of the game that will be overlooked given the final score was Harrison Kreiling’s performance. The junior starting pitcher threw six innings and did not allow a run. In addition to the shutout, he also struck out 11 batters, and surrendered only two hits. Kreiling’s 11 strikeouts is his career high since arriving in Omaha.
Mavericks take series with win on Sunday
Omaha rode their momentum from their comeback win the night prior with a 3-2 victory in the rubber match on Sunday against Western Illinois. Charlie Bell was lights out for the Mavericks and received his fourth win on the season.
Bell threw seven innings, struck out seven, gave up seven hits and surrendered two runs in the series finale. This continued a trend from the Mavericks against Western Illinois, with each starter making it through at least six innings and striking out at least five batters. This marked the first series all season that all three Omaha starters went at least six innings.
In addition to Bell’s performance, the bats started early with Haiden Hunt kicking off with a leadoff home run. This jump-started the Mavericks offense and they scored a run in each of the first three innings. Eddie Satisky scored Drew Lechnir with an RBI single to left field, and in the third inning Mike Boeve hit a home run to right field.
With the Mavericks rallying back to win the series against Western Illinois they now sit in sole possession of fourth place at 7-11. Omaha will play their final two series on the road and will make the trip up to Fargo, North Dakota before heading out west to Northern Colorado in the final week of the regular season.