By NATE TENOPIR, SENIOR STAFF WRITER
The UNO baseball team was back in Omaha Tuesday to take on in-state rival Nebraska-Kearney. Seven Maverick pitchers took the mound, scattering six hits and keeping the Lopers off the scoreboard in a 5-0 victory.
Coming off a weekend series split with top ranked Emporia State, the Mavs faced another ranked opponent in UNK. It was the first time the two rivals had faced off since 2007.
“It was a heck of a win for us,” said Mav Head Coach Bob Herold. “They have a good team. We just got out and got on top of them and that makes all the difference.”
Sophomore pitcher Matt Tew paced the Mavericks from the start going 2.2 innings, facing 11 hitters and giving up only two hits. Tew struck out two batters and didn’t walk any, improving to 2-0 on the season.
UNO gave Tew all the support he needed in the bottom of the second inning, putting across three runs. Leftfielder Travis Jacobi earned a walk in front of teammate Caleb Palensky who made the Lopers pay with a two-run shot to left field.
Senior right fielder Tyler Davies then reached on an error, advanced to third on another UNK mistake and came around to make it 3-0 when Brady Hohl doubled down the left field line. The Mavericks added to their lead the very next inning when Davies was hit by a pitch forcing in Martin Sartin from third.
Stellar glove work by the Lopers later in the inning prevented the Mavs from busting the game wide open. UNO would take the 4-0 lead going into the fourth inning and tack on one more run in the eighth.
Sophomore outfielder Connor McCrite doubled to left field, moved to third on a single by Palensky and scored on Davies’ sacrifice fly to right field to make it 5-0. Maverick hitters compiled nine hits, five RBI and three walks.
Although it was UNO’s fifth game against a ranked opponent in four days, the Mavs showed no fatigue from the previous weekend.
“The coaches set the direction of the team, but the character of the team is determined by the players,” Herold said. “They took it upon themselves to get out here and get ready to go… extra running or extra hitting and all that kind of stuff to get ready to go.”
Kearney’s Andre O’Connor took the loss going three innings while giving up four hits and four runs; two of them earned. O’Connor faced 18 hitters, striking out three and walking another three, but received no help from his offense.
The seven Maverick pitchers who took the mound only walked one Loper hitter while striking out eight others. The win improves UNO’s record to 19-6 on the year and sets up the team for an important weekend series with Central Missouri.
At 15-5 and third in the MIAA, UNO only trails the second place Mules by three wins and two games in the loss column.
“They [Central Missouri] are a very competent team, very well-coached,” Herold said. “We’re going to try to do the same thing to them. We’re going to impose our will on those guys and they’re going to try to do the same thing to us.”
Despite UCM’s solid pitching, Herold likes his team’s chances this weekend.
“It should be pretty good baseball,” he said. “We have enough pitching to hold them.”