Rough week for UNO up north

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By Jared Meyer, Contributor

Two weeks after UNO ended North Dakota State’s 16-game winning streak, the Mavs have yet to find their own winning ways and have lost eight of their last nine.  In the middle of a stretch that includes 15 games on the road, the Mavs lost games last week 8-4 and 1-0 to Minnesota, then 4-1, 4-3 and 5-4 in 11 innings to future Summit League opponent Oakland.

Despite the five losses, the UNO pitching staff recovered from a rough 20-1 outing in the final game against UNLV the previous Sunday to allow just 16 earned runs in five games.  This time it was the offense that couldn’t get it going.

In five games the Mavs had just 39 hits in 156 at bats, a dismal .250 average.  UNO scored only 12 total runs, drove in just eight and suffered a shutout.  Alex Mortensen led the way with eight hits, while senior Mark Waldron’s three RBIs on Tuesday were the most of any Mav in the five games.

Tuesday at Minnesota, the Mavs jumped on the board first and took a 1-0 lead on an RBI by Waldron in the top of the first. But by the bottom of the third, the Gophers led 3-1.

Waldron drove in another on a fielder’s choice with the bases loaded in the fifth to make it 3-2.  But again Minnesota answered right back, scoring two in the bottom of the fifth and three more in the bottom of the eighth to make it 8-2.

The Mavs got the final two of the game in the top of the ninth to make the final 8-4.  Waldron finished the game 2-for-4 with three RBIs, and senior Brady Hohl and freshman Alex Mortensen had two hits of their own.    

Senior Curtis Smith (2-4) took the loss for UNO, giving up three runs, nine hits and striking out four in six innings of work.  The following afternoon the Gophers scored the only run they would need in the bottom of the first then hung on for the next eight innings.

A bunt single by Minnesota’s Kurt Schlagen came around to score after a sacrifice, a fielder’s choice then a Maverick throwing error.  UNO out hit the Gophers 5-4 and had two of those hits in the top of the ninth with a threat to tie the game.

But with two outs and two runners on, Jared Patton flew out to end the threat and end the game in a 1-0 loss.  Freshman Cole Volkers (0-1) surrendered his first loss of the season as he gave up one unearned run on three hits in his six innings of work. Volkers fanned two and walked three.

When UNO traveled to Rochester, Mich. to face Oakland in a Saturday doubleheader, it was more first inning runs that did the Mavs in.  Similar to Wednesday, the opponent scored first then maintained the lead throughout.

Oakland got on the board right away taking quick 2-0 lead in the first and added another to make it 3-0 in the seventh.  UNO would eventually get on the board in the eighth, putting a run on the board with a sacrifice fly to make it 3-1

But the Golden Grizzlies answered back in the bottom of the frame to make the final 4-1.  Senior Andrew Reck (1-5) threw a career-long seven innings only giving up three runs on five hits, striking out four and walking five in the loss.

Sophomore Jeff McNichols, making his first start at third base, had a 2-for-3 day at the plate while Hohl finished 1-for-3 with an RBI.

In game two of the double-header, it looked as if the Mavs were going to snap their losing streak after getting out to a 3-0 lead in the top of the fourth. UNO established the lead on four hits and two Oakland errors.

Palensky scored Hohl on an infield single for the 1-0 lead then made it 2-0 when he scored later in the inning on a throwing error. A bunt single and another throwing error allowed Mortensen to cross the plate and make it 3-0.

The lead lasted until the seventh when the Golden Grizzlies put up three of their own and made it 4-3.  After a run in the bottom of the sixth, Oakland drew a walk, had two hits and benefited from a Mav throwing error to take the lead for good in the seventh.

McNichols, in his second start, again had two hits, and Mortensen was 2-for-5 with a run scored and an RBI. Junior Conner McCrite also had two hits in game two.

Junior Matt Tew got the start for UNO and gave his team every chance to win after six strong innings of work. Tew had a career-high nine strikeouts, gave up one run on two hits and three walks.

Junior Derek Landis (1-3) took the loss in relief as he gave up three runs, one earned, on two hits and two strikeouts.

Sunday the Mavs blew another lead for the second day in a row and left Michigan winless.  An error by the Golden Grizzlies in the second gave UNO their first run and the Mavs then made it 2-0 on three hits in the fourth.

The two teams traded runs in the fourth and the fifth, and it was a 3-2 Maverick lead in the top of the seventh.  In the seventh an RBI single by senior Scotty Donner had UNO up by two, but Oakland scored two of their own in the bottom of the inning.

The Mavs had a hit in the eighth and two in the 10th while the Golden Grizzlies committed an error in each of those innings.  But UNO could not capitalize.  The Mavs left five runners on base while limiting Oakland to just one hit until the 11th.

In the 11th, the Golden Grizzlies second hitter of the inning singled down the left field line then got into scoring position on a wild pitch.  The next Oakland hitter singled to center driving in the runner and the winning run, 5-4.

Smith took his second loss in five days, pitching the final three and two thirds and allowing just the one run on three hits.  Mortensen was 3-for-6 while Palensky, sophomore Dylan McGil and Donner each drove in a run.

The Mavs dropped their record to 11-29 and are next in action Friday, April 27 at Indiana State.

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