SIOUX FALLS — South Dakota State was in cruise control through six innings of its Summit League series-opening game against Omaha, but the Mavericks staged a huge comeback in which they scored the final 11 runs of the game in the late innings to pull out a 12-10 victory Friday afternoon at Karras Park Home of Ronken Field.
League-leading Omaha remained undefeated in Summit League action at 10-0 and improved to 18-6-1 overall. The Jackrabbits dropped to 14-11 overall and 7-3 in league play.
Despite the Jackrabbits leading 10-1 and poised to end the game early via the 10-run rule, the momentum began to turn in Omaha's favor in the bottom of the sixth inning when Maverick right fielder Ben Palensky made a leaping catch at the fence to rob Logan Holtz of a home run.
An error — one of an uncharacteristic four on the day by the Jackrabbits — with one out in the top of the seventh opened the door for Omaha. The Mavericks, whose bats had been silenced by SDSU starter Tyler Olmstead through the first six innings, came alive with two outs in the frame as nine consecutive batters reached via either a hit or a walk against three Jackrabbit hurlers as the Mavericks hung eight unearned runs on the board to pull to within 10-9.
Braden Rogers and Keil Krumwiede each plated runs with singles before Brett Bonar connected on a three-run homer off Olmstead and Parker Smejkal greeted reliever Cody Carlson with a two-run shot. Reigning Summit League Player of the Week Breyden Eckhout added a run-scoring single later in the inning.
The Mavericks put together the winning rally in the top of the ninth against SDSU closer Bret Barnett, who had allowed only one run all season in 10 appearances entering Friday. Eckhout, who was 3-for-4, gave the Mavericks an 11-10 lead with a two-run single to right with the bases loaded, while Jack Lombardi followed with an RBI single for the final run of the game.
Omaha finished with a 15-12 advantage in hits, 11 of which came in the final three innings.
SDSU jumped out to a 4-0 first-inning lead, starting when Drew Beazley hit the second pitch of the game for a home run to right field. Nick Smith scored the second run of the inning on a groundout, while Braeden Brown delivered a run-scoring single as the Jackrabbits sent 10 men to the plate against Omaha starter Joey Machado. A bases-loaded walk to Derek Hackman forced in the final run of the opening inning.
The Jackrabbits tacked on single runs in the both the second and third innings as Brown came through his second run-scoring hit in as many innings and Josh Falk homered to lead off the third.
Omaha got on the board with an unearned run in the fourth before SDSU responded with another four-run outburst in the home half of the sixth. Landon Badger led off with a double and scored on an error. Gus Steiger added an RBI double, with Luke Ira adding a two-run single for what proved to be the Jackrabbits' final tally.
Maverick reliever Grant Suponchick retired all six men he faced to earn the win, while closer Cal Hehnke struck out the side in the ninth to complete the save.
Olmstead struck out seven, walked two and scattered seven hits over 6 2/3 innings. None of the six runs he allowed was earned.
Steiger paced the Jackrabbit offense by going 3-for-4, while Beazley and Brown each finished with two hits.
SDSU and Omaha are scheduled to wrap up their three-game series by playing a doubleheader Saturday at Karras Park. Action is set to begin at 1 p.m.
Omaha leads the all-time series, 83-78-1, dating back to 1949
SDSU had won 12 of the last 15 meetings entering Friday
Steiger has reached base safely in 20 consecutive games and recorded his 12 multi-hit game of the season to tie Ira for the team lead
Ira extended his hitting streak to seven games, which is the longest active streak by a Jackrabbit player
Falk's home run was his fourth of the season, while Beazley connected on his third round-tripper of the season
The Jackrabbits stole three bases in the game, with Steiger swiping his team-leading 10th base of the year
Steiger and Badger are tied for the team lead in doubles with eight after each notching a two-bagger in Friday's game