Omaha Baseball picks up big wins before season is suspended

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Reggie Wortman
CONTRIBUTOR

Omaha’s No. 22 Garrett Kennedy, who picked up his first home run as a Maverick against Portland. Photo courtesy of Omavs.com

A cool, yet sunny Friday morning was the setting for Omaha’s first home games of the season at Seymour Smith Park. The Portland Pilots were in town for a WCC/Summit League twinbill.

Game 1 featured Omaha junior Joey Machado on the mound. Machado came into the matchup with a 2-1 record and a 5.40 ERA. The homegrown right-handed pitcher from Omaha was able to work around a leadoff walk by retiring the next 10 Pilot batters in a row. Machado found himself in a jam in the fourth by walking two Portland hitters but was able to get Pilot second baseman Sean Mulcare to fly out to left field, which ended the inning.

The Maverick half of the fourth produced the only run of the ball game after catcher Brett Bonar ripped a double down the right field line, which scored Grant Goldston from first base.

Machado took a no-hitter into the sixth inning, but it was lost after a Portland double. Machado struck out the remaining Pilot hitters in the frame. Tanner Howe replaced Machado on the bump after that. Machado grabbed the win, fanned six, walked four, but only allowed one hit all afternoon. Maverick closer Jacob Mohler notched the save, getting all three outs via the ground ball.

Reigning Summit League Pitcher of the Week, Spencer Koelewyn stood atop the hill in Game 2 for the Mavericks. He allowed three straight hits and a run to begin the game but settled in after that.

Portland extended the lead with a home run in the fourth and tallied two more runs in the fifth.

Omaha went into their half of the frame down four but lessened it to three after Keil Krumwiede drove in a run on a throwing error by Pilot third baseman Ty Saunders. Omaha scored again in the sixth after a solo shot by the DH Chris Esposito.

The seventh inning of Game 2 proved to be the most exciting one of the afternoon. Omaha freshman Garrett Kennedy launched a ball over the left field fence for his first collegiate home run. Masen Prososki followed with a base hit, where he then stole second. Parker Smejkal was hit by a breaking ball in the next at-bat. Brayden Eckhout legged out an infield hit which scored Prososki and moved Smejkal to third. Gavin Pitts came in the game to pinch hit for his first career at bat. He came in clutch, ripping a hard line drive to left field which scored both Eckhout and Smejkal, giving the Mavericks a 6-4 lead.

The Mavericks were not done yet. Catcher Brett Bonar capped off a superb day in which he threw out three Pilots on the base paths with a double to center field, which subsequently scored Pitts from second base.

Howe made his second appearance of the afternoon to set up the save in the eighth inning, and Keil Krumweide came in from short stop to close the ball game out for the Mavericks in the ninth. Portland did plate a single run in the last inning, but that was all, giving Omaha a gutsy 7-5 win.

Portland, who was 11-1 coming into the day, fell to 11-3 and the Mavericks improved to 9-4.

Next up on the schedule for UNO was their crosstown rivals Creighton, a team that Omaha had not beaten since 2014.

Things got off to a strong start in the second inning, fueled by the bottom part of the Omaha order. Brett Bonar started things off with a two-run single to left field, followed by three consecutive hits by Harrison Denk, Kennedy and Prososki. All three ended up crossing the plate in the frame. The Mavericks scored six total runs in the inning.

Bonar continued his hot stretch in the fifth, hitting another double and driving in two more runs to boost Omaha to an 8-0 lead.

Omaha sent the right-handed sophomore, Richie Holetz, to the mound to start the game. Making his fourth start of the year, he kept the Creighton bats silent for six strong innings.

Josiah Scott came in to throw the ninth, giving usual closer Mohler the night off after grabbing the save in Friday’s first game of the double header. Scott racked up two strikeouts and got a sharp ground ball to second base for the third out, giving Omaha an 8-1 win over Creighton.

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