A sunny, 72-degree Sunday was the setting for a day that will go down in Maverick baseball history. After a somber start to the Tal Anderson Field era, the Mavericks took the field one final time against Creighton trying to prevent a home-opening weekend sweep.
The two prior games were competitive throughout the early innings, but the Bluejays pulled away late in both contests. Omaha jumped out on top early on Saturday thanks to a home run by freshman Mike Boeve. Boeve turned on an inside fastball and lifted it over the centerfield wall for the first Maverick home run at the new ballpark.
“It felt good,” Boeve said. “Just put a good swing on a decent pitch and a little bit of wind carrying out. Luckily it got over the wall.”
Spencer Koelewyn was the starter on Saturday and the Junior breezed through the first four innings. However, he ran into trouble in the fifth after back-to-back Creighton hits. The lefty snagged two quick outs thanks to a strikeout and a lineout, and Parker Smejkal picked a ball out of the dirt for the final out to keep the score 1-0.
Once again, the Mavericks ran into trouble in the sixth. Koelewyn was replaced by Josiah Scott, who eventually finished the inning. The two combined to hit four Creighton batters and walk two, but it was a string of back-to-back doubles that propelled Creighton to a 5-1 lead.
The Mavericks started to mount something in the bottom half of the inning, but that was a close as they would get. Boeve nearly went yard for a second time to left field, but the ball was caught on the warning track. Ryan Doran and Smejkal had back-to-back singles to give the Mavericks two runners on with two outs, but failed to score in the frame.
The top of the eighth proved to be the difference. Three more Bluejays were hit by pitches and those baserunners translated directly to runs. That was the story of the day, as six of the eight total hit batters came around to score in Creighton’s 15-2 win.
Control was the story of the first two games for Omaha pitching.
“We gave them way too many free passes,” said head coach Evan Porter. “You look at the hit totals of 13-9 for a difference of 13 runs, which means there were too many free bases. We paid for it again.”
However, the Omaha staff was able to rebound on Sunday. Much in thanks to starter Richie Holetz, who continued his impressive stretch. Holetz struck out six batters over his six innings on the mound.
The Bluejays jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first, but the Mavericks wasted no time responding. Leadoff man Harrison Denk drew a walk to start the bottom of the first, as did Boeve. Chris Esposito singled to left scoring Denk, and Ryan Doran was hit by a pitch. That hit batter marked the end of the day for Creighton starter Ryan Miller, who was not able to record an out.
Boeve scored on a fielding error with the bases loaded to make it 2-1, and Doran came home when catcher Brett Bonar grounded into a double play to make it 3-1 Mavericks.
Holetz pitched with insurance runs for the rest of the day, as the Mavericks plated another run in the fourth. Jarrett Blunt came into the game for Holetz in the seventh and struck out two, which paved the way for Maverick closer Jacob Mohler to make his third appearance of the season.
Mohler struck out the side in the eighth and notched two more in the ninth. Creighton added one more run in the ninth, but Mohler was able to secure the Mavericks fourth win of the season and their first at Tal Anderson Field, 5-2.
Omaha hits the road for the third time next weekend as they travel to Lawrence, Kansas to take on the Jayhawks. It will be the third series against a power five team of the season. First pitch is on Friday at 3 p.m.