SIOUX FALLS – After opening the series with a dramatic comeback win on Friday, Summit League-leading Omaha carried the momentum through to a doubleheader and series sweep of South Dakota State Saturday afternoon in baseball action at Karras Park Home of Ronken Field.
With 9-4 and 11-7 victories, the Mavericks remained perfect in league play at 12-0 and improved to 20-6-1 overall. SDSU dropped to 14-13 overall and 7-5 in The Summit League.
Game 1: Omaha 9, South Dakota State 4
The Mavericks scored in each of the first three innings and pounded out 15 hits en route to a five-run victory in the opener.
Brett Bonar and Ben Palensky tallied run-scoring singles in the top of the first to give Omaha a 2-0 lead, while Braden Rogers added an RBI double in the second.
The Mavericks doubled their lead to 6-0 with a three-run third inning that was highlighted by a Palensky RBI double and two-run home run to right field by Parker Smejkal. It was Smejkal's second homer of the series and third of the season as he led the Omaha offense with four hits in five trips to the plate.
SDSU answered with a run in the fourth and three more in the fifth to pull to within 7-4. Nick Smith used aggressive base running to score the first Jackrabbit run, while Ryan McDonald accounted for the first two runs in the fifth with a home run to left off Omaha starter Payton Kinney. Landon Badger later scored on a groundout off the bat off Gus Steiger.
Kinney improved to 6-0 on the season, striking out four and walking only one in six innings. Jackson Gordon struck out four over the final three innings to earn the save.
Thomas DeBonville drove in each of the last two Maverick runs on a fielders choice in the seventh and run-scoring single in the ninth. He was one of five Omaha hitters with two or more hits and drove in a team-high three runs.
Jackrabbit starter Ryan Froom lasted only four innings, striking out two and walking two.
SDSU finished with eight hits, including two by Braeden Brown.
Game 2: Omaha 11, South Dakota State 7
DeBonville hit a grand slam in the top of the ninth inning, spoiling a valiant comeback bid by the Jackrabbits.
Trailing 7-1 through four innings, the SDSU comeback began against the Maverick bullpen in the bottom of the sixth. Brown scored on a single up the middle by Landon Badger before Drew Beazley lined a three-run homer to right to pull the Jackrabbits to within 7-5.
The Jackrabbits tied the game at 7-all with a two-run eighth inning. Logan Holtz led off the frame by being hit by a pitch and later scored on a groundout. Beazley later stepped to the plate with two outs and hit the first pitch of the afternoon from Cal Hehnke to the wall in left, allowing McDonald to score all the way from first.
Omaha's game-winning rally in the ninth began when Bonar led off with a single off reliever Cody Carlson. Beazley, who began the game as the designated hitter, entered to pitch and proceeded to walk the next two batters before DeBonville launched the first pitch he saw over the fence in left-center to up his RBI total in the twinbill to seven.
The Mavericks again jumped out to an early lead as each of the first three hitters of the game – Jack Lombardi, Rogers and Keil Krumwiede – hit consecutive doubles for an early 2-0 lead against SDSU starter and reigning Summit League Pitcher of the Week Nic McCay.
DeBonville doubled to lead off the second inning and later scored on a single by Breyden Eckhout for a 4-0 Maverick lead.
Josh Falk recorded the only hit against Omaha starter Spencer Koelewyn in his five innings of work by homering to center field to lead off the bottom of the third. Koelewyn struck out eight, but walked six in five innings in a no-decision.
However, Omaha hung another 3-spot on the board in the fourth on a three-run homer by Keil Krumwiede to push the Maverick lead to 7-1.
Freshman reliever Riley McSherry did his best to keep the Jackrabbits in the game by tossing four shutout innings. The Rapid City native retired nine in a row in one stretch, striking out three. He allowed only two hits and did not walk a batter in his longest collegiate outing thus far
Rogers was 4-for-6 as Omaha held a 16-7 advantage in hits. Beazley was 2-for-4 with a career-best four runs batted in for the Jackrabbits, while Falk was 2-for-2 and also walked twice to reach base in all four of his plate appearances.
The Jackrabbits will attempt to play their true home opener Tuesday, meeting Dakota Wesleyan in a 3 p.m. contest at Erv Huether Field.
Jackrabbit starting pitchers had pitched at least five innings in all 10 previous Summit League games entering Saturday
SDSU shortstop Gus Steiger has reached base safely in 22 consecutive games
Jackrabbit third baseman Luke Ira had his eight-game hitting streak snapped in Game 2
Beazley is hitting a team-best .417 and has an .889 slugging percentage in Summit League play
McSherry made his first pitching appearance since March 10 at UA Little Rock
Korey Kuhlmann came on in relief in Game 1, pitching 2 1/3 innings in his first appearance since March 9 at UA Little Rock
Omaha finished with five doubles in Game 2