As raindrops fell on the Tal Anderson Field turf throughout Friday night, it was a ball falling out of BYU left fielder Hayden Leatham’s glove that plated the winning run in the Mavericks 6-5 victory over the Cougars.
“That was one of the stranger endings I’ve been a part of,” said Omaha head coach Evan Porter. “It’s a really tough day to play baseball, but it came down to who could throw strikes towards the end there as the rain was starting to pick up and who could take advantage of their opportunity. We’re thankful that Mike (Boeve) came up with the go-ahead run there.”
Brett Bonar led off the bottom of the ninth by reaching on an error and advanced to second on a wild pitch. After a Masen Prososki walk and a pair of strikeouts, the Mavericks had runners on first and second with two outs. That’s when Boeve’s line drive to left fell onto the wet turf, sending the Mavericks home with the win.
However, it was a long night of baseball that set up the strange ending. BYU opened the scoring thanks to a Leatham second-inning RBI single to left, but Omaha starter Richie Holetz was able to hold the Cougars bats at bay. That was the only real blemish on Holetz’s line, who struck out seven and allowed just four hits over six innings of work. Holetz threw 93 pitches.
This comes just one night after Joey Machado tossed an eight-inning gem. Machado had seven strikeouts and allowed just one unearned run in the 2-1 win on Thursday.
“Joey set the tone for the weekend and Richie picked right up where Joey left off,” Porter said. “He threw the ball well and gave us a chance which is great to see from our starters.”
After falling behind 1-0 early, the next five runs went to the home side. Chris Esposito put the Mavericks ahead 2-1 with an RBI single to right that scored Harrison Denk, while Prososki scored on an error on the play.
The next two runs came off the long ball. Keil Krumwiede blasted a no-doubt shot to left field in the fourth inning for his third of the season, while Parker Smejkal followed with his second of the year just two innings later. The Mavericks scratched across one more run in the sixth as Krumwiede scored on a wild pickoff attempt at second base, but the game turned from there.
“We’ve just got to find a way to win late in the game and throw strikes,” Porter said. “I think when you’re playing a three-game or four-game weekend, the last game has gotten us the last two weeks as you’re running low on pitching and anything can happen.
“Finding a way to stop the momentum like Josiah (Scott) did in the eighth tonight is big for us though. It’s good for our bullpen guys to see we can get it done against a really good team like BYU.”
The Cougars scored four runs on five hits in that eighth inning, tying the game at five. But the Omaha bullpen was able to recover and keep the game tied. Scott, who struck out the final batter to work out of the jam in the eighth, picked up the win after recording the final five outs. He struck out three and didn’t give up any hits.
That performance paved the way for Boeve’s RBI single and the Mavericks second straight win over BYU. Omaha is now 14-16 on the 2021 season.
“That’s a really good team and it’s a good win for us,” Porter said. “You just want to go deep into the ballgame against a team like that and it usually comes down to one or two plays late in the game, and that’s what happened tonight.”
They’ll go for their first sweep of the season Saturday at 12 p.m. CT. Porter hopes his group can build off the first two games of the series.
“We just want to play a full series and play a complete weekend of baseball,” he said. “Playing a complete series has been a focus for us lately and we want to carry the momentum over to Tulsa next weekend.”