Rejuvenated Mavs sweep Northwestern opening in doubleheader

Photo courtesy Omavs
Junior Jack Kalina played third base last year, but will switch to a utility role this year.
Andrew Nelson

The Maverick baseball team glided to a pair of back-to-back opening day wins, 14-8 and 10-5, over Northwestern last Saturday in Glendale, Arizona to begin the season 2-0.

Game One – Omaha 14, Northwestern 8

Northwestern got out to a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first on a delayed steal that saw an Omaha throw down to second go into center field. DH Hunter Hughes singled in centerfielder Tyler Daugherty in the top of the third to tie it up for Omaha, and the offensive bats followed the remainder of the day. Shortstop Kiel Krumwiede hit a two-RBI triple and Ben Palensky, the right fielder, followed with an RBI double to build the Maverick lead to 4-1. Leadoff third basemen Cole Thibodeau had his third hit of the day in the fourth inning, an RBI single, then a pair of Mavs scored on a Wildcat error before freshman Braden Rogers tripled to right field to make it 8-4.

Omaha’s entire starting lineup reached base in the first game by the end of the seventh inning. Second basemen Max Gamm hit a RBI-single and Thibodeau knocked-in leftfielder Parker Smejkal for his fourth hit before the Wildcats walked-in a run making it 11-4. Keil hit into a fielder’s choice and returned the favor to plate Gamm. Palensky and catcher Adam Caniglia each singled with the bases loaded for the final three Maverick runs making it 14-4.

Grant Suponchick earned the opening day win allowing four runs on seven hits over 5 and 1/3 innings of work. Malik Moore came on in relief and struck out six in just 2 and 2/3 innings pitched. Cole Thibodeau led the way at the plate with a 4-for-4 day that included three runs scored, three RBIs and a pair of walks. Krumwiede and Smejkal also had three hits each and combined for five RBIs.

Game Two – Omaha 10, Northwestern 5

The second game of the doubleheader kicked off awfully similar with the Wildcats scoring in the first inning, not once, but twice. Once again, the Mavs erased that in the third inning on a sac fly by Thibodeau that allowed Daugherty to score and Gamm to make it in on a wild pitch. Northwestern took the lead again in the bottom of the inning, and the Wildcats tacked on two more in the fourth after a two-run homerun to make it 5-2 Northwestern.

A pair of errors allowed Omaha to load the bases, and then score to break into the three-run deficit. The Mavs loaded up the bases once again in the sixth but could only muster a run after Rogers hit into a double play with no outs, however it got the Mavs within one. Suponchick checked into the game in the top of the seventh to pinch hit and knocked in Gamm to tie it up. Smejkal doubled and Daugherty knocked him in with a single to take the lead. Suponchick delivered again with a two-RBI single to give the Mavs some breathing room. Smejkal knocked-in Rogers with a RBI-single and Palensky scored on a Daugherty sac fly for the eighth unanswered run by Omaha, and the Mavs would close it out for a 10-5 win.

Freshmen Jake Pennington earned the win coming on in relief to pitch five innings of shutout ball that included four strikeouts. Smejkal didn’t stop in game two, the junior was 3-for-5 with a pair of doubles, two runs and a RBI. Suponchick’s late appearance in game two didn’t go unnoticed as he was 2-for-2 with three RBIs.

Omaha’s third game of the weekend was not finished prior to the publication of this article. The Mavs will be back in action this weekend a little closer to home as they take on the Shockers of Witchita State down in Kansas in a three-game series Friday through Sunday.